Neurobiology & Anatomy Department

The Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy is dedicated to investigating embryonic development and nervous system function in health and disease. Research areas include the molecular, cellular and circuit analysis of neuronal communication and behavior using modern tools of neuroscience, as well as on signaling pathways involved in tissue patterning. The department is vibrant and growing, and is an integral part of a campus-wide neuroscience community.

We are committed to graduate and postdoctoral training, emphasizing research excellence and professional development, and also boast a strong tradition of leadership in health sciences education and scholarship.


The department is seeking an outstanding scientist for a tenure track faculty position. We are interested in candidates who are using multidisciplinary approaches to understand brain disease, with a particular focus on neurodegeneration and disorders associated with aging. The department offers excellent resources to support new faculty, including active faculty mentoring, and a highly collegial and collaborative environment. To learn more and apply, go to:

Faculty Highlight: Jason Shepherd

Shepherd Chan-Zuckerberg

 2018 was a remarkable year for Jason Shepherd, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, beginning with publication of a key paper in Cell on January 11:“The Neuronal Gene Arc Encodes a Repurposed Retrotransposon Gag Protein that Mediates Intercellular mRNA Transfer”. This publication described the pioneering discovery that the Arc protein could assemble into viral-like capsids and mediate intercellular RNA transfer in the brain. The paper garnered major national and international coverage in both the lay and scientific press.

The excitement around this work has led to numerous speaking engagements at universities and conferences around the world, including a TedMed talk in November.  He was also invited to participate as a delegate in the 53rd annual International Achievement Summit in NYC in September, 2019.

To cap the year, Jason learned in November that he was selected for the Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award ($2.5M over 5 years) from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI).  This award will enable Jason to significantly expand his research program and apply his innovative discoveries on ARC-mediated RNA transfer to the field of Alzheimer’s research. In the summer he was also awarded an Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant.

Jason joined the department in January 2013 and has built an exciting research program with a talented team. He is currently recruiting new postdocs.


We are very pleased to welcome two new faculty to the department in 2019:


 Dr. Moriel Zelikowsky received her Ph.D in Psychology from UCLA in 2011, where she investigated the role of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in fear learning, memory and extinction in the laboratory of Michael Fanselow.  She then pursued her postdoctoral training in the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Caltech in the laboratory of David J. Anderson, where she identified a role for the neuropeptide Tac2 in the control of prolonged social isolation stress.

Moriel will combine her expertise in animal behavior and systems neuroscience towards investigating the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms underlying stress, anxiety and social behavior.  By applying cutting-edge molecular genetic tools to further our understanding of animal behavior and emotion, she aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of mental health-related disorders such as PTSD, anxiety and depression.



 Dr. Jim Heys was awarded a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2013 working with Dr. Michael Hasselmo at Boston University where he examined the neural encoding of 3D space and discovered fundamental differences in the way species represent their own location. He then pursued postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Dombeck at Northwestern University where he discovered principles for the topographic organization of cells that encode spatial information in the brain, and also identified neuronal populations in the hippocampus that represent elapsed time and are involved in representation of space and time for episodic memory.

The overarching goal of Jim’s research is to understand the neural mechanisms by which memories are encoded and recalled in the brain. He uses cellular and subcellular resolution functional imaging methods to monitor and manipulate the activity of hundreds of neurons simultaneously in the intact brain of the mouse during memory guided behavior. Ultimately, he will investigate how specific neural mechanisms that underlie memory formation may breakdown in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Latest News

University of Utah Names Six Additional Recipients of the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chairs
Jul 08, 2019

University of Utah Names Six Additional Recipients of the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chairs

The University of Utah and the Huntsman Foundation have announced six additional presidential faculty chairs. The Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chairs provide sweeping support to academic researchers, educators, and clinicians spanning a wide array of fields. The presidential chairs are named for the late businessman, philanthropist and founder of the Huntsman Cancer Institute.... Read More

Neurosurgery,Neurobiology and Anatomy,Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences,Biochemistry


Monica Vetter
Learn More