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Jennifer Bass
Kinsey Institute

Last modified: Thursday, April 22, 2004

Indiana University names new director for the Kinsey Institute

Julia R. Heiman will become the sixth director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University Bloomington on June 1.

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Julia R. Heiman, a leader in the evolving field of sex research, will become the sixth director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University Bloomington.

Heiman, who will join the university on June 1, will be a professor in the Department of Psychology with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis. She will leave the University of Washington, where she is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Medicine and co-director of UW's Reproductive and Sexual Medicine Clinic, a position she has held since 1987.

Heiman said she was attracted to the position at the Kinsey Institute in part because of the new opportunities for interdisciplinary research, particularly in the last decade, but also because of the institute's history and reputation for perseverance in the pursuit of groundbreaking research.

The field of sexuality research in the United States is relatively young, gaining momentum in the late 1930s when IU's Alfred Kinsey turned his research interest from zoology to human sexuality. The Kinsey Institute was founded in 1947, a year before the publication of the landmark Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which was followed in 1953 by Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, essentially creating the foundation for sexuality research. Now a handful of research sites nationwide focus on sexuality research, which has taken on an increasingly multidisciplinary and rigorous scientific approach.

Heiman said her top priorities at the Kinsey Institute will be to "maintain and grow" both the research program and the extensive collections.

She wants to deepen both the basic and applied work in sexuality research, she said. She will attempt this in part by developing collaborative links with the University of Washington's Reproductive and Sexual Medicine Clinic and associated colleagues. This will better connect psychosocial research, which studies how the larger social and cultural environment shapes sexuality, and biomedical research, which looks at individuals' problems and available treatments. She will return to Washington once a month to help facilitate the potential new relationship, which will be explored during the course of two years. Heiman also is interested in networking with other centers where interesting and important work in sexual scholarship is being done.

The collections at the Kinsey Institute include art, photography, books and archival papers of prominent researchers in the field, including Alfred Kinsey, all of which are valuable resources for scholars. Heiman sees the need for preservation of these unique, historical collections. The institute hopes to digitize much of the art collection to make it more accessible to researchers and scholars.

Michael A. McRobbie, IU's vice president for research, said he has no doubt Heiman will enhance the vitality and strength of the Kinsey Institute.

"Julia Heiman is a leader in the field of sexuality scholarship, and we're delighted that she is bringing her energy and talents to work at the Kinsey Institute," McRobbie said. "Her considerable research record speaks for itself, just as she can persuasively and effectively articulate the need for continued attention to the effort of understanding human sexuality."

Heiman already has left her mark in the field of sexuality studies.

"Julia's contributions to sexual psychophysiology and the understanding of how the mind and body interact are enormous," said Ray Rosen, Director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. "There is much that we understand today, as well as a unique methodological approach to studying such fundamental questions, that owes much to Julia's research beginning in the early 1970s and continuing throughout the subsequent two decades."

Rosen said Heiman's work also is notable for her dedication to working "in the clinic and in the laboratory."

Heiman will build upon the achievements of John Bancroft, who has developed the strong interdisciplinary research focus of the Kinsey Institute during his nine-year tenure as director. Bancroft will retire on April 30 as both director and clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the IU School of Medicine. Stephanie Sanders, associate director of the Kinsey Institute, will serve as interim director until Heiman arrives.

The Kinsey Institute is a research institute of Indiana University and a not-for-profit corporation which owns and manages the archives and collections.

Reporters who would like to speak with Heiman should contact Jennifer Bass at the Kinsey Institute at 812-855-7686 or