Ben A. Barres
File:Replace this image male.svg
InstitutionsStanford University
Alma materM.I.T., Dartmouth College, Harvard University

Ben A. Barres M.D., Ph.D. is an American neurobiologist who teaches at Stanford University. His research focuses on the interaction between neurons and glial cells in the nervous system. He is currently Associate Chair of the Neurobiology department at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Barres has a degree in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a medical degree from Dartmouth College and a doctorate in neurobiology from Harvard University.

Barres, a transsexual man, made headlines in the mainstream press in July 2006 after writing an article in Nature that addressed issues of sex and intelligence.[1] Barres was critical of Lawrence Summers and others who have claimed that one reason there are fewer women than men in science and engineering professorships might be that fewer women than men had the very high levels of "intrinsic aptitude" that such jobs required.[2] Barres wrote about personal experiences of being treated differently as a female scientist versus a male scientist.[3]

Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist who has defended Summers, said Barres "should learn to take scientific hypotheses less personally." [4] Barres argued there is a lack of scientific data to support the hypothesis.[5] More recently, Barres directed a series of "open questions" to Pinker and Harvey Mansfield in a formal address at Harvard, challenging the data supporting their arguments.[6]


  • 1994 Searle Scholar


  1. Ben Barres, (13 July 2006). Does Gender Matter? Nature
  2. Shankar Vedantam, (13 July 2006). Male Scientist Writes of Life as Female Scientist: Biologist Who Underwent Sex Change Describes Biases Against Women. Washington Post
  3. Sharon Begley, (July 13, 2006). He, Once a She, Offers Own View On Science Spat. Wall Street Journal
  4. Lisa Leff, (July 13, 2006). Transgender professor defends women scientists. CNN News
  5. Cornelia Dean, (July 18, 2006). A Conversation with Ben A. Barres: Dismissing ‘Sexist Opinions’ About Women’s Place in Science. New York Times
  6. Ben Barres, (March 17, 2008). "Some Reflections on the Dearth of Women in Science", Harvard University.

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