Ben Barres, transgender brain researcher and advocate for women in science, dies at 63

Ben Barres, MD, PhD, a prominent transgender neurobiologist who advocated for women in science, died Dec. 27, nearly two years after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 63 years old.

Here are four things to know about Dr. Barres.

1. Dr. Barres served as a professor of neurobiology, developmental biology and neurology at the Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine.

2. His research focused on the study of glial cells and their potential link to the degeneration of brain tissue — a symptom of several neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

3. Dr. Barres received his medical degree from the Hanover, N.H.-based Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

4. Dr. Barres began his scientific career as Barbara Barres and underwent hormone therapy and surgery to transition in 1997. His experience as a woman, and later a man, in the science field led him to become an advocate for women and other marginalized people in the scientific community, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

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