Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Baulieu, Etienne-Emile
Location College de France
Primary Field Medical Physiology and Metabolism
 Election Citation
During the past thirty years, Baulieu has advanced our knowledge of the steroid hormones in fundamental and practical ways. He discovered a new cerebral function, the synthesis of 'neurosteroids.' He has been an important contributor to the study of steroid receptors and has developed an antiprogestational compound, which is an antagonist at the receptor level and has already been shown to be useful for fertility regulations.
 Research Interests
As an endocrinologist and biochemist studying the synthesis, metabolism, and action of hormonal steroids, I have described the secretion of dehydroepiatidrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) by the human adrenals, and I am still studying its decrease in aging and the compensatory effect of steroid administration. We detected a number of metabolic pathways for steroid hormones, including for the synthesis of estrogens and androgens and the formation of active metabolites in the prostate (possible role in tumors). We demonstrated the synthesis and metabolism of "neurosteroids" in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which act upon neurotransmission, behavior, memory, and neurotrophicity. We described the Sex Steroid Binding Plasma Protein (SBP), the intracellular progesterone and androgen receptors, the first membrane receptor for a steroid hormone (in Xenopus laevis oocyte), and the hormone-regulated control of steroid receptors in vivo and in vitro. After early observation of an in vitro increase of RNA in target cell nuclei upon exposure to steroid-receptor complexes, we observed the interaction of the heat shock protein hsp9O with all steroid hormone receptors and some of its biological consequences; thereafter we also cloned the hsp-binding immunophilin FKBP59, studied immunosuppressant drug-hormone interactions and cloned two new immunophilin-binding protiens, the function of which is immunosuppressant dependant. In the field of antihormones, I devised mifepristone (RU486), specifically as an antiprogesterone agent permitting novel medical approaches in the field of fertility control and women's health. The double approach of research as a "physician doing science" has led me to personally take part in the transfer of my laboratory findings into clinical development.

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