Northwestern University scientist Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy, who researches how the brain's neural circuitry develops, has been named a 2015 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar. She will use the award to better understand how some anti-depression drugs impact the brain's wiring.
She hopes to improve treatment effectiveness for major depressive disorders.
Kozorovitskiy, an assistant professor of neurobiology in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is the University's first recipient of the prestigious award and one of seven biomedical scientists selected for the honor this year.
The award recognizes early-career biomedical scientists whose research holds exceptional promise for advancing knowledge about how different biological systems function in health and disease. As part of the award, she will receive $100,000 per year for a period of five years.
"It is a tremendous honor to be the first Rita Allen Foundation Scholar from Northwestern University," Kozorovitskiy said. "This award will enable otherwise unattainable research in my lab, in an area new to us."
While her lab tends to study basic, fundamental questions about the brain, Kozorovitskiy said the project funded by the Rita Allen Foundation has the possibility for real-world applications that could impact many lives.
"If successful, our research will impact the clinic within a very short time frame, and this is very inspiring and exciting to me," she said.
Previous Rita Allen Foundation Scholars have gone on to make transformative contributions in their fields and have won many prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize.
"By investing in outstanding biomedical scientists at the early stages of their careers, we are providing resources to these scholars to pioneer new approaches and discoveries," said Elizabeth Christopherson, president and chief executive officer of the Rita Allen Foundation. "Researching basic biological questions is essential to improve human health and alleviate suffering caused by cancer, chronic pain, mental illness and other maladies."
The Rita Allen Foundation invests in transformative ideas in their earliest stages to leverage their growth and promote breakthrough solutions to significant problems. It enables early-career biomedical scholars to do pioneering research, seeds innovative approaches to fostering informed civic engagement and develops knowledge and networks to build the effectiveness of the philanthropic sector. Throughout its work, the foundation embraces collaboration, creativity, learning and leadership.