Dr. Sue Carter, Ph.D.

Dr. Sue Carter is is well known for her work in the field of behavioral biology and neuroendocrinology. Currently Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Brain Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, she formerly held the rank of Distinguished University Professor in Biology at the University of Maryland, and prior to that was a Professor in Psychology and Ecology, Ethology and Evolution at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Carter spent her childhood in the Missouri Ozarks, and received her B.A. in Biology at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri, followed by a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Arkansas.

For over 25 years she has studied prairie voles and other social mammals. This research program led to a novel understanding of the neurobiology of monogamy and social bonding, revealing new functions for ancient mammalian hormones including oxytocin and vasopressin. Dr. Carter and her colleagues were the first to describe a role for oxytocin in positive social behaviors, including social bonds. Her research program continues to describe new functions for neuropeptide hormones, including oxytocin, vasopressin, and corticotropin releasing factor in social behavior and emotional regulation. Dr. Carter and her colleagues also documented the capacity of human lactation to modulate reactivity to stressors. More recently, Dr. Carter has directed an NICHD Program Project dealing with the developmental effects of oxytocin. This research has described powerful anatomical, behavioral and emotional consequences for oxytocin in early life. Her laboratory is currently examining the epigenetic effects of early experience and oxytocin as possible protective factors against disorders such as autism. Dr. Carter is particularly interested in describing the physiological mechanisms through which positive experiences and social support improve mental and physical health, and has begun to apply these interests in the study of HIV and other disorders that are exacerbated by stress. Dr. Carter has over 200 publications, including editorship of 5 books and is the current president of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society.