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Top Female Scientist in the U.S. recognized for the second year in a row

Media Contact:

Lexi McCausland
Communications Manager
University of Utah Health Plans

Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and vice chair for research at Huntsman Mental Health Institute at University of Utah Health has been named as one of the U.S.’ top female scientists, for the second year in a row. 

The list of U.S. Top Female Scientists from is based on the number of peer-reviewed publications and citations throughout the scientist’s career. For Yurgelun-Todd, that means a career total (and counting) of 424 publications and 33,647 citations.

 Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd, PhD
Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd, PhD named as Top Female Scientist for second year in a row

Yurgelun-Todd is recognized as a leader in studying brain activity as it relates to behavior. Her laboratory has applied a variety of magnetic resonance imaging techniques to identify brain changes in mood processing and neurocognitive functions. For example, in people who use Cannabis and in children as they develop into adolescence. Using a variety of imaging techniques has led to an improved understanding of both developmental and brain changes that lead to altered behavior. This knowledge may eventually result in better and more personalized treatments for patients who have or are vulnerable to psychiatric disorders.

In addition to her role at Huntsman Mental Health Institute, Yurgelun-Todd serves as the director of the Salt Lake City VA Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center for Suicide Prevention. Her work there is focused on veteran suicide prevention through the application of neuroimaging approaches and neurocognitive assessments.

“Dr. Yurgelun-Todd serves as an excellent role model for our institution, inspiring critical psychiatric brain research, and educating future mental health professionals,” said Mark H. Rapaport, MD, CEO, of Huntsman Mental Health Institute. “Her leadership has been foundational to creating a global nexus of mental health and brain research right here in Utah.”

In addition to her research, Yurgelun-Todd works to narrow the gender gap in science by tackling obstacles to obtaining funding, developing leadership roles, and establishing national collaborations.

“As one of the few women around the table in the early years of my career, I recognize both the effort it took to reach this milestone, and the work to be done to create research opportunities for all”, said Yurgelun-Todd.

Yurgelun-Todd is currently working to bring a new mental health and brain Translational Research Building— which will house the only 7 Tesla MRI in the world dedicated to the study of the brain and behavioral disorders—to life at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. Her team is bringing together experts across law, ethics, architecture, art, genetics, neurosciences, and others on the campus of University of Utah to collaborate and bring research-backed practices into patient care.

About Huntsman Mental Health Institute

Huntsman Mental Health Institute at University of Utah Health brings together 75 years of patient care, research, and education into one of the nation's leading academic medical centers focused on mental health. Nestled in the campus of University of Utah, Huntsman Mental Health Institute serves the community with 1,600 faculty and staff in 20 locations providing inpatient and outpatient services for youth, teens, and adults as well as a comprehensive crisis care model which includes the nationally recognized SafeUT app and the 988 Crisis hotline for Utah. Our mission is to advance mental health knowledge, hope, and healing for all. Learn more at: and join the conversation on InstagramFacebookTikTokX and LinkedIn.