Psychiatry and
Behavioral Sciences

Associate Chairman

Robert C. Malenka, M.D.Malenka
Pritzker Professor

Director - Nancy Pritzker Laboratory
Lokey Stem Cell Research Building
Stanford, CA 94305

MC 5453

Tel Work (650) 724-2730
Fax (650) 498-4585

Academic Profile


Dr. Malenka is the Pritzker Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Nancy Pritzker Laboratory and co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences. He is a world leader in elucidating the mechanisms underlying the action of neurotransmitters in the mammalian brain and the molecular mechanisms by which neural circuits are reorganized by experience. His contributions over the last 25 years have laid the groundwork for a much more sophisticated understanding of the mechanisms by which neurons communicate and the adaptations in synaptic communication which underlie all forms of normal and pathological behavior. He was trained as both a clinical psychiatrist and cellular neurobiologist and has been at the forefront of helping to apply the knowledge gained from basic neuroscience research to the treatment and prevention of major neuropsychiatric disorders.

Dr. Malenka graduated from Harvard in 1978, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in biology. He did  his graduate work at the Stanford University School of Medicine from which he received an M.D. and a Ph.D. in neuroscience in 1983. Over the ensuing 6 years he completed residency training in psychiatry at Stanford and 4 years of postdoctoral research work at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). In 1989, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Physiology at UCSF at which he reached the rank of Full Professor in 1996.  In addition to running an active research program at UCSF he was the Director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Addiction and Associate Director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry. He returned to the Stanford School of Medicine in 1999.

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine as well as an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. His public service includes serving on the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and as a Councilor for the Society for Neuroscience. He is also on the editorial boards of many prominent journals including Neuron, Trends in Neuroscience and Biological Psychiatry.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards including: the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award (1993); the Daniel Efron Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacolgoy (1998); the Kemali Foundation International Prize in Neuroscience (2000); the CINP-Lilly Neuroscience Basic Research Award (2002), the Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2006), the NARSAD Goldman-Rakic Prize for Outstanding Neuroscience Research (2010) and the Pasarow Foundation Award for Extraordinary Accomplishment in Neuropsychiatry Research (2011).

Dr. Malenka’s research findings have been published in over 200 research papers in leading science journals. He has also co-authored a textbook entitled Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience (McGraw Hill, 2nd edition, 2009). He has lectured at universities and scientific meetings throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Japan. His many years of investigation have produced a number of hypotheses that provide the foundation for much of the research in many of the world’s laboratories that study how neurons communicate with one another and how this communication is modified during learning and by experience.  His laboratory continues to conduct cutting edge research on the molecular mechanisms of neural communication as well as the role of synaptic dysfunction in brain disorders including addiction, autism, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

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