Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy

Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy earned B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, where she worked with Elizabeth Gould to study social experience-induced structural plasticity in the adult rodent and primate brain. She conducted postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Bernardo Sabatini at Harvard Medical School, where she investigated neural activity and neuromodulation in developmental wiring of basal ganglia circuits. She joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 2014. In addition to being a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, Kozorovitskiy is the recipient of a Public Voices Fellowship and a Cornew Innovation Award from Northwestern University, a Sloan Research Fellowship and a Searle Scholar Award.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a tremendous mental health burden, with a lifetime incidence of more than 15 percent. A great promise for MDD treatment, especially for resistant and suicidal patients, lies in rapidly acting antidepressants. Yet the neurobiological plasticity mechanisms underlying rapid antidepressant effects remain poorly understood. Kozorovitskiy’s research group takes a multipronged approach to studying synapses and neural circuits implicated in depression and affect. First, they are evaluating whether rapidly acting antidepressant drugs and their functionally relevant metabolites directly facilitate the production of new synapses on genetically targeted neurons. Preliminary data indicate that the effects of rapidly acting antidepressants on synapses occur on a slower time scale and have a broader reach than expected, transcending the neural circuits typically implicated in depression. Second, interrogating neuromodulatory circuits implicated in regulation of affective state, they have discovered and characterized an important new direct interaction between dopamine, an amine important for reward-based learning, and oxytocin, a neuropeptide relevant to social affect, bonding and reproduction. Third, to facilitate the imaging of diffraction-limited nanoscale architecture of synapses, they have collaborated to develop a new imaging method that combines the strengths of two-photon excitation with structured illumination.