Indiana University Bloomington

Sue Carter named director of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University

Researcher a pioneer in examining mechanisms underlying love, bonding and other emotions

  • Oct. 29, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has appointed Sue Carter, a pioneering leader in the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology, as director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, effective Nov. 1. 

The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University Bloomington was founded in 1947 by its namesake, zoologist Alfred Kinsey. Carter, also Rudy Professor of Biology, plans to support and extend the efforts begun by Kinsey with an added emphasis on understanding the science of love, nurture and longevity.

“Sue Carter is an outstanding scientist whose innovative research will contribute significantly to The Kinsey Institute,” Vice President for Research Jorge José said. “I have asked Dr. Carter to develop a strategic plan for the institute that expands its research focus into the biological bases of love and sexual behavior. Just as Dr. Kinsey’s research in the 20th century broke new ground in our understanding of sexual behavior, Dr. Carter’s research into the mechanisms underlying social bonds, love and other positive emotions will break new ground in the 21st century.”

Recent findings, many of which are built upon scientific research models originated by Carter, have revealed that the same basic neurobiological processes and systems that support healthy sexual responses are necessary for love and well-being. At the biological heart of the experience of love, as well as sexual behavior, is a small hormone known as oxytocin. Oxytocin, and the neural systems that oxytocin regulates, in turn protect and heal. An initial focus of Carter’s plans for The Kinsey Institute will be the development of a Kinsey Institute Resource Center, intended to increase collaborations among members of the IU academic community, and globally. This center will offer access to noninvasive technologies necessary to understand the biology and health benefits of human social and emotional relationships.

This rich combination of her capacity to engage a variety of research disciplines, utilize and expand the research collections and archives, and offer more opportunities for education and training made Sue stand out as the leader most able to move the institute toward even greater relevance and impact in the daily lives of people worldwide.Lynn Luckow, chairman of the Kinsey Institute's Board of Trustees

Currently Carter is the principal investigator of a $4.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for research involving the developmental consequences of birth interventions. This work, which uses an animal model to examine the possible effects for infants of the use of oxytocin (medically known as Pitocin) to induce labor, will continue at IU Bloomington.

Carter has a long history of federal funding; her other NIH grants have examined the neurobiology of social bonding and social support, the effects of early experiences on brain development, and the role of peptides in the regulation of the autonomic nervous system. She also pioneered studies of the beneficial effects for the mother of breast feeding; and recently, working with collaborators from around the world, she has studied the role of oxytocin in mental illnesses including autism, schizophrenia and postpartum depression.

“Dr. Carter’s work at the intersection of science and society -- balancing rigorous research and the challenges of humankind -- is most impressive,” said Lynn Luckow, chair of The Kinsey Institute’s Board of Trustees. “This rich combination of her capacity to engage a variety of research disciplines, utilize and expand the research collections and archives, and offer more opportunities for education and training made Sue stand out as the leader most able to move the institute toward even greater relevance and impact in the daily lives of people worldwide.”

Carter comes to IU Bloomington from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was professor of psychiatry. She was previously co-director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and prior to that Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland. Her prior appointments have been in the departments of psychology, zoology and biology, and she helped found the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in neural and behavioral biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Carter is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, and she was awarded the Matthew J. Wayner-NNOXe Pharmaceutical Award for Translational Research.

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