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Margaret M. McCarthy PhD

Margaret (Peg) McCarthy received a PhD from the Institute of Animal Behavior at Rutgers University, Newark NJ, postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University and was a National Research Council Fellow at NIAAA before joining the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1993.  She was a Professor in the Department of Physiology before becoming the Chair of the Department of Pharmacology in 2011.


McCarthy has a long-standing interest in the cellular mechanisms establishing sex differences in the brain.  She uses a combined behavioral and mechanistic approach in the laboratory rat to understand both normal brain development and how these processes might go selectively awry in males versus females. She is the former President of Organization for the Study of Sex Differences and currently serves as Chair for the Board of Scientific Councilors of NIMH, an Associate Editor at Hormones and Behavior and on the Advisory Board of eNeuro. Dr. McCarthy is a Member of the Dana Alliance on Brain Research and Fellow for AAAS. She was awarded the University of Maryland Researcher of the Year and Champion of Excellence awards in 2015 and 2017, respectfully.

She has published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts and her work has been cited close to 10,000 times. In 2019, McCarthy was recognized for all of her accomplishments over her 25 year career with the distinguished James and Carolyn Frenkil Dean's Professorship.  

Current Lab Members

Erin Reinl PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar

Erin earned her B.Sc. in Biology from St. Norbert College, and Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, working in the Center for Reproductive Health Sciences.  Erin's projects in the McCarthy lab focus on understanding the role of the maternal and peripheral immune systems in shaping sex differences in the developing brain.

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Jonathan VanRyzin PhD
Post Doctoral Scholar

Jonathan Van Ryzin PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar

Lindsay Pickett
Graduate Student

Lindsay Pickett 
Current Graduate Student

Lindsay earned her B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. In the McCarthy lab, she studies the role of the immune system in masculinization of the preoptic area of the brain with a focus on brain-resident mast cells and microglia.

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Sheryl Arambula PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar

Sheryl obtained a B.Sc. in biology from Missouri Southern State University and her Ph.D. in biology from North Carolina State University. Her research in the McCarthy lab broadly focuses on how environmental factors affect sex-specific neurodevelopment and she is particularly interested in brain injury arising from birth complications. Currently, she is using a rat model of hypoxia ischemia to examine the impact on cerebellum development and function.

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Sydney Ashton
Graduate Student


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Alexa Blanchard

MD/PhD Candidate

Alexa obtained a B.S. from Wake Forest University prior to attending the University of Maryland School of Medicine for her medical training in 2017. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree at UMB in the McCarthy lab studying the role of immune cells in shaping brain masculinization.

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Max Burzinski
Laboratory Technician

Max earned his B.S. in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In the McCarthy Lab, he manages laboratory resources as well as providing scientific and administrative support.

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Ashley Marquardt
Graduate Student


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Emily Graham
Laboratory Technician

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Miguel Perez-Pouchoulen PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar

Miguel obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroethology from University of Veracruz, Mexico in June 2013. His research is focused on sex differences in the brain, particularly in the cerebellum, a commonly altered structure in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. In this regards, I am studying the role of microglia in the developing cerebellum.

N. Shalon Edwards
Senior Research Analyst

Shalon obtained her BSc from Stevenson University and currently provides research and administrative support to the McCarthy lab.


McCarthy Lab Alumni

Graduate Student Trainees

Kathy Kight PhD 2019 -

Jonathan van Ryzin, PhD 2018 – “Microglia mediated sexual differentiation of the amygdala”. Current position, postdoctoral fellow, University of Maryland.

​Sarah Stockman, PhD 2017  – “Epigenetic contributions to different developmental trajectories of male and female hippocampus."

Jessica Hoffman, PhD 2013  – “A sensitive period in cerebellar development defined by PGE2 and estradiol production.”

Bridget Nugent, PhD 2012 – “Effect of DNA methyltransferase activity on sexual differentiation of the rodent brain.”

Christopher L. Wright, PhD 2009 – “Identification of the prostaglandin E2 receptors mediating the neonatal organization of male sexual behavior and neuroanatomical correlates."

Shannon S. Dean, MD/PhD 2009 – “Regulation of cerebellar estradiol synthesis and Purkinje cell morphology by prostaglandins: Implications for neurodevelopmental disease."

Jaclyn M. Schwartz, PhD 2008 – “A critical role for glutamate in the organizational effects of estradiol on the developing hypothalamus”

Genell Hilton, RN. PhD 2005 - "Sex differences in perinatal brain damage: A role for estradiol modulation of kainic acid induced excitotoxicity." 

Stuart Amateau, MD, PhD 2003 – “Estradiol-induced masculinization of the developing preoptic area: Evidence from form to function”

Micah S. Sickel, MD, PhD 2003 – “Involvement of the calcium binding protein, calbindin D-28K, in sexually dimorphic processes of the developing brain”

Jessica A. Mong, PhD, 2000 – “Steroid mediated astrocyte differentiation in the developing hypothalamus: Implications for sexually dimorphic synaptic patterning” 

Aline M. Davis, PhD, 1998 -  “The neonatal GABAergic system as a mediator of sexual differentiation of the rat brain” 

Postdoctoral Trainees

Dr. Amanda Holley, Department of Pharmacology 2017-2020

Dr. Pedro Paredes Ramos*, Department of Pharmacology, 2013 – 2014

Dr. Lidia Fuenzalida*, Department of Pharmacology, 2013 –2014

Dr. Katherine Argue, Department of Pharmacology, 2012 – 2017

Dr. Christopher L. Wright, JD, PhD, Department of Pharmacology, 2011 – 2017

Dr. J. Michael Bowers*, Department of Pharmacology, 2008 – 2015

Dr. Nina Banerjee, Department of Physiology, 2010 – 2011

Dr. Kathryn Lenz, Department of Physiology, 2009 – 2013

​Dr. Jaylyn Waddell, Department of Physiology, 2008 – 2010

Dr. Shu-Ling Liang, Department of Physiology, 2007 – 2009

Dr. Desiree Krebs-Kraft, Department of Physiology, 2006 – 2010

Dr. Christian Reich, Department of Physiology, 2005 - 2006

Dr. Susan Zup, Department of Physiology, 2005 – 2008

Dr. Debra Speert, Department of Physiology, 2003 - 2006

Dr. Anne Konkle, Department of Physiology, 2003 – 2007

Dr. Brigitte Todd, Department of Physiology, 2002 – 2004

Dr. Joseph Nunez*, Department of Physiology, 2000 – 2004

Dr. Tara Perrot-Sinal, Department of Physiology, 1998 – 2001

Dr. Anthony Auger, Department of Physiology, 1998 – 2001

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