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Rosemarie Mactutus Booze’s Humble Beginnings Inspired a Career in Virus Research

Rosemarie Mactutus Booze is a professor of Psychology at the University of South Carolina. She is a leading researcher in the field of neurobiology and neurotoxicology. For the past 40 years, she has helped to expand the scientific community’s understanding of how viruses and toxins affect the brain.

Among her accomplishments are more than 150 published papers and a grant from the NIH for her research on neurodevelopmental sex differences and drug abuse. You can learn more about the advanced research at

Rosemarie Mactutus Booze currently serves as Bicentennial Endowed Chair in Behavioral Neuroscience in the USC Department of Psychology – Behavioral Neuroscience. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Dr. Booze is one of the most respected researchers in her field, but the trail she’s blazed through academia is anything but typical. Her humble beginnings in rural Oregon influenced her work ethic and her areas of expertise, as did the family she started along the way.  

How Rose Mactutus Booze’s History Influenced Her Research 

Raised in rural Oregon, Dr. Booze didn’t have the East-coast upbringing that some might expect from a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and research fellow at Duke University. 

Dr. Booze began her schooling in a two-room schoolhouse in Oregon, where she took lessons until her teenage years. She was raised on a sheep farm and regularly cared for livestock, which gave rise to one of her academic curiosities: the effect of pesticides on the environment.

After completing a double-major in zoology and psychology at Oregon State University, she took a position at the Environmental Protection Agency in Corvallis. Here, Dr. Booze cultivated her interest in pesticides by witnessing first-hand the toxicity of the chemical agents while working to protect her local environment. 

She soon realized that her interest lay in toxicology. She applied to the graduate program in neurotoxicology at Johns Hopkins, where she would later receive her Ph.D. in Neurobiology. 

But first, she would have a chance encounter that would change her life—personally and academically. On her first day at Johns Hopkins, she met a post-doctoral fellow named Charlie Mactutus, whom she would later marry. 

Charles was a post-doc in neurotoxicology and pharmacology, and his interests lay in cognitive processes and their dysfunction in disease and addiction. 

Rosemarie Mactutus Booze found that her interests dovetailed with those of her future husband, and the couple published Rose Booze’s first two papers together. Dr. Booze continued in this line of study throughout her career, publishing much of the original work on the effects of HIV-1 and drugs of abuse on the brain. 

Research with Real-World Benefits 

From her time at the Environmental Protection Agency during the age of DDT to her work on HIV research in the 80s, Rosemarie Mactutus Booze’s research has always taken a head-on approach to progress.

Her work in the field of neurotoxicology has increased the understanding of how drugs of abuse affect the brains of developing fetuses. She has also contributed greatly to our knowledge of the neurological effects of HIV. Her research has been used to develop treatments that improve the lives of millions of patients.   

Dr. Booze’s later research aims to further treatments for neurocognitive disorders, such as dementia. Her investigation of medicinal plants may open new avenues of treatment for cognitive decline by promoting neural growth.

Dr. Booze is also interested in the neurological links to obesity. Her research on genetically-engineered mice may improve the understanding of the developmental trajectories of this common disease. 

A Novel Virus Poses New Challenges

After nearly 40 years in academia, Rosemarie Mactutus Booze shows no signs of slowing down. Like many scientists, she has realigned her research goals in the hopes of developing treatments for COVID-19. 

As a leader in neurobiology, her research is contributing to treatments for the long-term loss of taste and smell, impacting the quality of life of over 1 million Americans.

Dr. Booze has a history of using her research to take on some of the most pressing concerns of the day, and today is no different. 

Her passion for neuroscience began on an Oregon farm, grew into a practical pursuit after college, and flourished with a like-minded partner by her side.

Professor Rosemarie Mactutus Booze will undoubtedly continue to publish research that benefits public health while assisting new generations of graduates in neuroscience and psychology at USC.