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Dr. Elisabeth Murray Honored With Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award

Institute Update

Cognitive neuroscientist Elisabeth A. Murray, Ph.D. , has been honored with the Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN).

This prestigious award recognizes neuroscientists who have advanced the understanding of brain function while promoting the professional advancement of women in neuroscience. The 2022 Salpeter Award  acknowledges Dr. Murray’s distinguished career and excellence in biomedical research alongside her dedication to mentoring future leaders in neuroscience.

Dr. Murray heads the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As chief of the Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Dr. Murray examines the neural basis of learning, memory, emotion, and behavior. She is an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Her laboratory’s many scientific accomplishments include breakthroughs in understanding memory formation, cognitive flexibility, and reward seeking. Among other contributions, this research has revealed how specific brain structures use cognitive and emotional information to guide decision‐making and goal‐directed actions. Dr. Murray’s research has been published in over 200 papers and fostered the development of methods for examining brain function with unprecedented precision and power. In addition, her co-authored book, The Evolution of Memory Systems, advanced the “evolutionary accretion model” of memory to describe higher brain function and organization. Together, her papers and books have helped revolutionize the science of memory and provided novel insights into psychiatric disorders.

“Dr. Murray’s scientific achievements have influenced the work of countless neuroscientists, including me. She brings rigor and precision to the study of cognitive neuroscience and energy and commitment to mentoring and supporting others in the field,” says NIMH Director Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.

Mentorship is at the heart of Dr. Murray’s prolific career. She has demonstrated this commitment by supporting the teaching, training, and career advancement of numerous graduate students and postdoctoral scientists in her laboratory and elsewhere at NIH. She was previously recognized with NIMH’s Outstanding Mentor Award and an NIH Office of the Director Honor Award for her part in establishing a multi‐institute mentoring program.

In addition to mentoring early career researchers, Dr. Murray has worked tirelessly to promote equity for women in science. She twice served as an NIMH Women Scientist Advisor, representing the interests of women scientists throughout the institute. She was also a member of the group that established and maintained gender pay equity among principal investigators at NIH.

NIH congratulates Dr. Murray on this outstanding accomplishment recognizing her ongoing commitment to advancing neuroscience research and promoting the success of women in science.