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Moriel Zelikowsky Receives Klingenstein-Simons Award in Neuroscience Research


In recognition of her research and leadership, Moriel Zelikowsky, PhD, assistant professor in Neurobiology and Anatomy at University of Utah School of Medicine, received the 2020 Klingenstein-Simons fellowship award. The award recognizes its young fellows as the nation's most illustrious and highly promising in neuroscience research.

In today's age of a global pandemic, stress-related mental health disorders and feelings of loneliness may take a heavy toll. While our environment is one factor underlying stress, the neurobiological basis behind our behaviors is mostly unexplored.

Zelikowsky is investigating how distinct forms of stress produce maladaptive effects on aggressive behavior. Her lab will combine behavioral testing and computational analyses with genetically-targeted, molecular-based imaging and manipulation of neural circuits.

Zelikowsky is working to advance our understanding of the neural circuitry underlying stress, aggression and social behavior. In particular, she is interested in whether violence produced by an acute stressor, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is qualitatively the same as violence produced by a chronic stressor, such as social isolation.

"This project is important because it will provide much needed insight into the nature of distinct forms of aggression, which could in turn translate to tailored therapies for the treatment of violence-related disorders," says Zelikowsky.

"I am delighted that Moriel will be recognized with a prestigious Klingenstein-Simon's award. With this well-deserved recognition she joins the ranks of the nation's top young neuroscientists," says Monica Vetter, PhD, department chair of Neurobiology and Anatomy. "This work has real implications for understanding stress-related mental health, which is so urgent in these challenging times. Moriel is on an exciting trajectory, and we are thrilled that with this award she can advance her important work."

Zelikowsky carried out her graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology where she was named a L'Oréal USA Women in Science Fellow. She started as faculty at the University of Utah in 2019 and also received the prestigious Sloan fellowship earlier this year.