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Nancy Forger

Professor    Faculty    

B.A., 1981, Mathematics and Psychology, Dartmouth College (Summa Cum Laude)
Ph.D., 1986, Endocrinology, University of California, Berkeley
Postdoctoral Fellow, 1986-1994, University of California, Berkeley


Developmental Neurobiology
Sex Differences


Dr. Forger is a neuroscientist with special interests in hormones, development, and sexual differentiation of the nervous system. Current research projects in the lab examine how cell death and epigenetics contribute to sex difference in the brain. She was a Professor at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst for 18 years before joining GSU in 2012. Career research highlights include the first identification of a sex difference in the human spinal cord, some of the earliest work on neurotrophic factors and sexual differentiation, the role of cell death genes in the development of sex differences and, most recently, the role of epigenetics in sexual differentiation of the brain. In addition to work on more traditional lab animals (rats and mice), she has also been Principal Investigator on a project examining the effects of sex and social status on the brains of naked mole-rats, and was a long-time collaborator on the Berkeley spotted hyena project. Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Whitehall Foundation. She has been the recipient of two NIH Independent Scientist Awards and the Samuel F. Conti Award for Research Excellence from the University of Massachusetts. She has served on study sections for the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the journals Endocrinology and Hormones and Behavior. She is a Councilor of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, and a member of the Executive Board of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.


Representative Publications:

Shen EY, Ahern TH, Cheung I, Straubhaar J, Dincer A, Houston I, de Vries GJ, Akbarian S, Forger NG (2014) Epigenetics and sex differences in the brain: A Genome-Wide Comparison of Histone-3 Lysine-4 Trimethylation (H3K4me3) in Male and Female Mice. Experimental Neurology, in press.

Ghahramani NM, Ngun TC, Chen P.-Y, Tian Y, Krishnan S, Muir S, Rubbi L, Arnold AP, De Vries GJ, Forger NG, Pellegrini M, Vilain E. 2014. The effects of perinatal testosterone exposure on the brain DNA methylome of the mouse brain are late-emerging. Biology of Sex Differences 5:8

Ahern TH, Krug S, Carr AV, Murray E, Fizpatrick E, Bengston L, McCutcheon J, De Vries GJ, Forger NG (2013) Cell death atlas of the postnatal mouse ventral forebrain and hypothalamus: Effects of age and sex. J. Comparative Neurology 521:2551-2569.

McCarthy MM, Auger AP, Bale TL, De VriesGJ, DunnGA, ForgerNG, MurrayEK, NugentBM, Schwarz JM, Wilson ME (2009) The epigenetics of sex differences in the brain. Journal of Neuroscience 29:12815-12823.

Murray EK, Hien A, de Vries GJ, Forger NG (2009) Epigenetic control of sexual differentiation of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Endocrinology 150:4241-4247.

Holmes MM, Goldman BD, Goldman S, Seney ML, Forger NG (2009) Neuroendocrinology and sexual differentiation in eusocial mammals. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 30:519-533.

Holmes MM, Rosen GJ, Jordan CL, De Vries GJ, Goldman BD, Forger NG (2007) Social control of brain morphology in a eusocial mammal. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:10548-10552.

Forger NG (2006) Cell death and sexual differentiation of the nervous system. Neuroscience 138:929-938.

Forger NG, Rosen GJ, Waters EM, Jacob D, Simerly RB, de Vries GJ (2004) Deletion of Bax eliminates sex differences in the mouse forebrain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:13666-13671.

Zup SL, Carrier H, Waters, EM, Tabor A, Bengston L, Rosen GJ, Simerly RB, Forger NG (2003) Overexpression of Bcl-2 reduces sex differences in neuron number in the brain and spinal cord. Journal of Neuroscience 23:2357-2362.

Fenstemaker SB, Zup SL, Frank LG, Glickman SE, and Forger NG (1999) A Sex difference in the hypothalamus of spotted hyenas. Nature Neuroscience 2:943-945.

Forger NG and Breedlove SM (1986) Sexual dimorphism in human and canine spinal cord: Role of early androgen. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 83:7527-7531.

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