Kent State’s Brain Health Research Institute Hosts University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Anthropology Professor

Kent State University’s Brain Health Research Institute (BHRI) hosted Benjamin Campbell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as part of its ongoing BHRI Seminar Series. 

Campbell spoke on Sept. 27, at the Integrated Sciences Building on the Kent Campus, on the topic of how the production of the DHEA/DHEAS hormones and the GLUD2 enzyme plays a role in brain development in humans and other species, a process known as “adrenarche.” 

Campbell was invited to be part of the seminar series by Kent State Assistant Professor Rafaela Takeshita, Ph.D., from the Department of Anthropology, who said she was interested in learning about Campbell’s research because they are in the same field. 

Benjamin Campbell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, speaks at Kent State as part of its ongoing Brain Health Research Institute's Seminar Series.
As an anthropologist, Campbell researches life history and the evolutionary study of the human life course. He focuses on steroid hormones as a critical link between the brain and the timing of childhood growth, pubertal maturation and aging.  

During his presentation, Campbell reviewed the existing body of research that examines the steroid hormone’s effect on brain development and maturation and examined areas where he hopes to see additional research happen in the coming years. 

His research on the onset of adrenal DHEA/DHEAS production and its role in middle childhood works from the hypothesis that the primary impact of DHEAS is to promote brain development in humans and other primates such as the great apes. 

Campbell’s past work includes fieldwork in Africa, studying the Turkana and Ariaal farmers of northern Kenya, focusing on the impact of ecological factors on hormones on development across the male lifespan.  

Michael Lehman, Ph.D., director of the Brain Health Research Institute, said everyone in BHRI is excited to have the seminars return to a mostly in-person format this academic year. He said the in-person experience adds excitement and value to the exchange between students, faculty and the visiting lecturers. 

Campbell’s talk was pertinent, Lehman said, because there is so much marketing of DHEA as an over-the-counter supplement. Campbell noted how the NCAA has banned its use by conference athletes, primarily due to doping concerns. It also is banned by professional athletic associations including the NFL and MLB. Campbell also said the use of DHEA supplements may lead to liver cancer. 

Lehman said Campbell’s presentation showed how there is no current research that supports DHEA as a performance-enhancing drug, despite the current marketing push to sell it as such a supplement. Lehman said debunking those types of myths and fostering a better understanding of what is real science versus marketing hype is part of the mission of the BHRI, to foster better health for all. 

The next installment of the BHRI Seminar Series takes place on Oct. 18, when Regina M. Sullivan, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University will speak in a virtual event on the topic of infant social trauma and the developmental trajectory of neurobehavioral pathology. Sullivan’s event is the only online seminar in the series this semester.  

POSTED: Tuesday, September 27, 2022 - 4:16pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 5:33pm
WRITTEN BY:
Lisa Abraham