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Mary Kritzer

Mary Kritzer


Ph.D. Yale University


Life Sciences Building 
Office: Room 510
Lab: Room 506

Office Phone: (631) 632-8634
Fax: (631) 632-6661


Mary Kritzer received a B.S. degree in Neuroscience in 1983 from the University of Rochester. She attended Yale University from 1983 to 1989, obtaining an M.Phil. in 1986 and a Ph.D. in Neuroanatomy in 1989. From 1989 to 1991 she was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford, U.K. and from 1991 to 1993 she was a postodoctoral fellow in the Section of Neurobiology at Yale University. In 1993 she joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook as Assistant Professor of Neurobiology & Behavior and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in 2000, and promoted to Full Professor in 2009. Since 2003 she also holds the position of Research Scientist in The Matt and Debra Cody Center Autism and Developmental Disabilities, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and is an affiliate faculty in the Department of Psychology since 2004. In 2007 she received the Aesculapius Award from Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine. She is a member of the Research Board of Directors of The Matt and Debra Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Research Interests/Expertise

The cerebral cortex is one of the crowning achievements of brain evolution, reaching highest levels of anatomical and functional complexity in humans and non-human primates. Over 80% of the cortex in these species corresponds to the association areas, which are cortical centers of cognitive information processing that subserve functions including language, planning, problem solving and working memory. The selective failures of these functions are hallmarks of some of the most devastating forms of mental illness known, including schizophrenia and autism. The work in this laboratory explores the neurobiology that underlies the complex functions of the association cortices and the neurobiological bases for their dysfunction in disease. Our specific research direction takes its lead from the sex differences and gonadal hormone malleability that have been shown for the development, adult capacity and the incidence and character of numerous diseases that affect association cortical function, e.g., schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia, ADHD, Tourette's syndrome and others, in healthy humans, patient populations and in animal models. While these observations clearly indicate that the association cortices are targets of hormone stimulation, the molecular, cellular, biochemical and behavioral endpoints are poorly understood. Accordingly, the major questions addressed in this lab concern whether, how and when gonadal steroids impact the cerebral cortex and especially its cognitive association areas. To approach these issues, our work utilizes animal models and pairs classic hormone manipulation paradigms e.g., gonadectomy, ovariectomy and hormone-replacement, with fine-grained anatomical, biochemical, molecular and behavioral assays. One of the major areas of current endeavor deals with the hormone-sensitivity of the mesocortical dopamine system, an afferent innervation that supplies the association areas with one of its most functionally critical inputs and one that has been repeatedly implicated in the pathophysiology of each of the forms of mental illness noted above. To date we have uncovered sex differences in pathway organization and hormone sensitivities in dopamine-dependent cortical/cognitive functions that are paralleled by potentially causative hormone effects on dopamine uptake, synthesis and metabolism, resting levels and binding in the association cortices. In sum, our work addresses fundamental questions about gonadal hormone stimulation of cortical/cognitive information processing on levels that range from molecules to behavior. As we continue to identify the biological roles that circulating hormones play in modulating cognitive, affective and mnemonic brain function, we continue to use this new nformation to update and pursue hypotheses about the neurobiology that mediates the highest forms of cortical information processing and the dysfunction of these processes in mental illness.


Current Students:
  • Master Students: Yuwoong Kim, Sarah Perotta, Husain Sodawalla
  • Undergraduate Students: Anna Roderick

Recent Graduates:

  • Dana Lengel, MS: Now a PhD Student in Neuroscience, Drexel University
  • David Haray, Undergraduate, Now a Master's Student in Neuroscience, University College of London

Former Students:

  1. Theresa Aubele-Futch, PhD, Assistatn Professor, St. Mary's College, Ntre Dame, IN
  2. Mallory Locklear, PhD, Freelance Science Writer
  3. Charulata Venkatesan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati
  4. Igor Feinstein, MD, PhD, Resident, Stanford University