Maura Boldrini, MD, PhD

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Academic Appointments

  • Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry and Postdoctoral Residency Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Maura Boldrini, M.D., Ph.D. first joined Columbia University as a Postdoc. In 2006 she in was awarded the Janssen Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Neuroscience Research, in 2008 she was appointed Assistant Professor, and in 2013 was promoted to Associate Professor of Clinical Neurobiology in Psychiatry.

Dr. Boldrini is the Director of the Neurogenesis Laboratory in the Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology Division at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) and in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC).

She is a Faculty Mentor in the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and a member of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative (CSCI), Data Science Institute (DSI) and the Columbia University Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.

She has been a Kavli fellow since 2010 and has been invited lecturer by the National Academy of Sciences, and at national and international meetings and Universities.

She is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the American Psychiatric Association, the Society for Neuroscience, the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the International Academy of Suicide Research.

Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the New York State Stem Cell Initiative (NYSTEM), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF or NARSAD), and by the generous support of the Diane Goldberg Foundation and Dr. Brigitt Rok-Potamkin. She is currently the Principal Investigator of a NIMH R01, an NINDS U01, and an AFSP Standard Research Grant, and she is a Co-Investigator on a NIMH Conte Center for Suicide Prevention grant.

Topics of her publications have included: genetic studies in eating disorders, studies on neurotransmitter systems in depression and suicide, neuropsychological studies in anxiety disorders, and studies of psychopathology in patients with autoimmune and thyroid diseases.

In Dr. Boldrini’s group, current main research themes come from studying adult neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in the human hippocampus. Adult neurogenesis is a mechanism of structural plasticity occurring in mammals including humans, which is necessary for environmental adaptations, learning and coping, and shows a significant response to antidepressant treatments. This plasticity system, regulated by both biological and environmental stimuli, could be involved in the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders and in the mechanisms of brain aging.

Of note, until June 2020 Maura’s title is “Research Scientist and Postdoctoral Residency Fellow” as she is completing her second Residency in Psychiatry at CUIMC/New York Presbyterian Hospital/NYSPI (she is a Board-certified Psychiatrist in Europe).

A media activity report by the CUIMC Office of Communications and Public Affairs documented recent coverage of Dr. Boldrini's research by several media outlets:

CUIMC Newsroom: “Even Old Brains Can Make New Neurons, Study Finds”:, including:

NIH Director’s Blog: “New Evidence Suggests Aging Brains Continue to Make New Neurons”:

BBC R4 The World Tonight radio program (Dr. Boldrini’s interview is the last item):

BBC World Service Weekend radio program: BBC World Service radio

Science Friday Podcast: “Do Our Brains Keep Growing As We Age?": Science Friday

More than 800 national and international outlets have covered “New Neurons,” including: Los Angeles Times, TIME, Reuters, CBS News, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Fox News, The Economist, The Guardian, Discover Magazine, and The Scientist.


  • Italian


  • Female

Credentials & Experience

Honors & Awards

  • 2019 Gray Matters Fellowship Award
  • 2019 Publication featured in Cell Stem Cell Best of 2018: Boldrini M, Fulmore CA, Tartt AN, Simeon LR, Pavlova I, Poposka V, Rosoklija GB, Stankov A, Arango V, Dwork AJ, Hen R, Mann JJ. Human Hippocampal Neurogenesis Persists Throughout the Eighth Decade of Life. Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Apr 5;22(4):589-599.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.03.015. PMID: 29625071
  • 2019 Invited Lecturer, 2nd Neurogenesis Conference, March 5-8 2019, Nassau, Bahamas
  • 2019 Invited Lecturer, 4th Eurogenesis meeting, June 11-13 2019, Bordeaux, France
  • 2017 Selected presenter, Late-Breaking Poster, Society of Biological Psychiatry 72nd Annual Meeting, May 18-20, 2017, San Diego, CA
  • 2015 Invited lecturer, World Congress on Angiogenesis 2015, April 11-12, 2015. Boston, MA
  • 2014 Invited lecturer, Adult Neurogenesis: From Stem Cells to Therapies 1st meeting, February 6-8, 2014, TIFR, Mumbai, India
  • 2013 Invited lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, April 8, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA,
  • 2013 Grand Round lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, Loyola University, March 13, 2013, Chicago, IL,
  • 2012 Selected presenter, Late-Breaking Session, Society of Biological Psychiatry’s 67th Annual Meeting, May 3-5, 2012, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2011 Grand Round lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, Nov 11, 2011, New York, NY
  • 2011 Invited lecturer, Excellence Centre for Research, Transfer and High Education for the Development of DE NOVO Therapies, April 11, 2011, Univ. of Florence, Italy
  • 2010 Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2010 Invited lecturer, National Academy of Sciences’ twenty-second annual Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium, Beckmann Center, Nov. 4-6, 2010, Irvine, CA
  • 2010 Invited lecturer, XVII Congress of the Italian Society of Neuropsycho-pharmacology, September 22-25, 2010, Cagliari, CA, Italy
  • 2010 Invited lecturer, Meeting: "Pharmacological Modulation of Adult Neurogenesis", University of Novara, October 1-2, 2010, Novara, Italy
  • 2008 Selected presenter, Hot Topics Basic Session at 47th American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Annual Meeting, December 6-11, 2008, Scottsdale, AZ
  • 2007 Travel Scholarship, Society of Biological Psychiatry
  • 2006-2008 Janssen Fellow in Translational Neuroscience Research, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • 2000 Invited lecturer, January 11, 2000, Brickell Suicide Research Conference, Columbia University, New York, NY


In my laboratory, current research focuses on studying stem cells in the human brain and the neurogenic niche associated with them, which involves new vasculature and capillaries. Adult neurogenesis, the making of new neurons in adult life, is a mechanism of brain plasticity occurring in mammals including humans, which is necessary for learning and coping, shows adaptation to the environment and a significant response to drugs and medications. We are studying mechanisms involved in neural cell proliferation maturation and survival in the human brain, and how these change with normal and pathological conditions. We are interested in understanding changes in neurogenesis and neuroplasticity occurring with stress exposure, medications, and aging, and how they contribute to psychiatric disorders, cognitive disfunction, suicide, or resilience. To decipher the neurobiological mechanisms involved in these phenomena, we are combining classic and data mining techniques investigating changes at the gene, transcript, epigenome, proteome, cellular, and brain circuit level. Alterations at any of these levels, resulting from genetic and environmental factors, ultimately affect human behavior.

Dr. Boldrini’s three main accomplishments have been showing that: 1. Anterior human dentate gyrus neurogenesis is impaired in depression and suicide; 2. Neurogenesis abnormalities in depression are absent when patients have been treated with antidepressants; 3. Neurogenesis is largely preserved in the first eight decades of life although vascular indices show a decline over that age range indicating the potential for ameliorating some aging effects on cognition.

Among Dr. Boldrini’s breakthroughs are reports on: the effects of antidepressants on human adult neurogenesis (Neuropsychopharmacology 2009), the relationship between hippocampal neurogenesis and angiogenesis (Biological Psychiatry 2012), aging effects on adult neurogenesis (Cell Stem Cell 2018), hippocampal volume and neuroplasticity changes associated to resilience to early life adversity (Biological Psychiatry 2019).

She is studying the link between the serotonergic system and neurogenesis, teasing apart the relationship between expression of serotonin receptors and neurogenesis levels in human hippocampus. More recently she is examining the correlation of neurogenesis with neuroinflammation and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress response in the hippocampus. She is working on proteomics data and RNA sequencing analysis of human brain tissue and single cells, and assessing gene methylation levels.

Research Interests

  • Neuroplasticity in brain aging, psychiatric disorders, epilepsy and suicide
  • Models of brain aging, epilepsy and psychiatric disorders
  • Neurotransmitters systems involved in psychiatric disorders, epilepsy and suicide
  • Neural degeneration and repair
  • Stem cell biology
  • Psychiatry
  • Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Brain imaging



May 23 2014 - Apr 30 2019


Aug 8 2013 - Jun 30 2018


Aug 8 2013 - Jun 30 2017


Sep 15 2014 - Sep 14 2016


Oct 1 2013 - Sep 30 2015


Mar 1 2008 - Aug 31 2015


Sep 30 2014 - Jul 31 2015


Jun 8 2011 - Mar 31 2014


Sep 30 1997 - Dec 31 2013


Feb 1 1990 - Apr 30 2013


Jan 30 2006 - Jan 30 2011


Jan 1 2009 - Dec 31 2010

Selected Publications


Calati R, Boldrini M, Bensassi I, Maller JJ, Meslin C, Ritchie MWK, Courtet P, Artero S, Lopez-Castroman J. Commentary on smaller hippocampal volume in current but not in past depression in comparison to healthy controls: minor evidence from an older adult sample. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2019 Apr 28:891988719845504. doi: 10.1177/0891988719845504. PMID: 31030625

*Boldrini M, Galfalvy H, Dwork AJ, Rosoklija GB, Trencevska-Ivainovska I, Palovski G, Hen R, Arango V, Mann JJ. Boldrini M. Resilience Is Associated with Larger Dentate Gyrus while Suicide Decedents with Major Depressive Disorder have Fewer Granule Neurons. Biol Psychiatry. 2019 May 15;85(10):850-862. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.12.022. PMID: 30819514


Tartt AN, Fulmore CA, Liu Y, Rosoklija GB, Dwork AJ, Arango V, Hen R, Mann JJ, Boldrini M. Considerations for assessing the extent of hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult and aging human brain. Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Dec 6 PMID: 30526880, DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.10.025

Besnard A, Langberg T, Levinson S, Chu D, Vicidomini C, Scobie KN, Dwork AJ, Arango V, Rosoklija GB, Mann JJ, Hen R, Leonardo ED, Boldrini M, Sahay A. Targeting Kruppel-like factor 9 (Klf9) in excitatory forebrain 1 neurons protects against chronic stress-induced dendritic spine enlargement and maladaptive fear responses. Cell Reports, 2018 Jun 12;23(11):3183-3196. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.05.040. PMID: 29898391

Boldrini M, Fulmore CA, Tartt AN, Simeon LR, Pavlova I, Poposka V, Rosoklija GB, Stankov A, Arango V, Dwork AJ, Hen R, Mann JJ. Human Hippocampal Neurogenesis Persists Throughout the Eighth Decade of Life. Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Apr 5;22(4):589-599.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.03.015. PMID: 29625071

Thom M, Boldrini M, Bundock E, Sheppard MN, Devinsky O. The past, present and future challenges in epilepsy related sudden deaths and bio-banking. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology, 2018 Feb;44(1):32-55. doi: 10.1111/nan.12453. PMID: 29178443

Pillai RLI, Zhang M, Yang J, Boldrini M, Mann JJ, Oquendo MA, Parsey RV, DeLorenzo C. Will imaging individual raphe nuclei in males with major depressive disorder enhance diagnostic sensitivity and specificity? Depress Anxiety. 2018 Jan 24. doi: 10.1002/da.22721. PMID: 29365217


Aizenstein HJ, Baskys A, Boldrini M, Butters MA, Diniz B, Jaiswal MJ, Jellinger KA, Kruglov LS, Meshandin IA, Mijajlovic MD, Niklewski G, Pospos S, Raju K, Richter K, Steffens DC, Taylor W, Tene O. Vascular Depression Consensus Report - A Critical Update. BMC Med. 2016 Nov 3;14(1):161. PMID: 27806704

Donaldson ZR, Le Francois B, Santos TL, Almli LM, Boldrini M, Champagne F, Arango V, Stockmeier CA, Galfalvy H, Albert PR, Ressler KJ, Hen R. The functional serotonin 1a receptor promoter polymorphism, rs6295, is associated with psychiatric illness and differences in transcription. Translational Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 1;6:e746. doi: 10.1038/tp.2015.226. PMID: 26926882

Azmitia EC, Saccomano ZT, Alzoobaee ZF, Boldrini M, Whitaker-Azmitia PM. Persistent Angiogenesis in the Autism Brain: an immunocytochemical study of postmortem cortex, brainstem and cerebellum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD). 2016 Apr;46(4):1307-18. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2672-6. PMID: 26667147


Wu MV, Shamy JL, Bedi G, Choi CW, Wall MM, Arango V, Boldrini M, Foltin RW, Hen R. Impact of Social Status and Antidepressant Treatment on Neurogenesis in the Baboon Hippocampus. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Feb 12. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.33. PMID: 24518288

Mann JJ, Oquendo MA, Watson KT, Boldrini M, Malone KM, Ellis SP, Sullivan G, Cooper TB, Xie S, Currier D. Anxiety in Major Depression and Cerebrospinal Fluid Free Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. Depression and Anxiety. Depress Anxiety. 2014 May 27. doi: 10.1002/da.22278. PMID: 24865448

Boldrini M, Butt TH, Dwork AJ, Bakalian MJ, Tamir H, Rosoklija GB, Hen R, Arango V Mann JJ. Benzodiazepines And The Potential Trophic Effect Of Antidepressants On Dentate Gyrus Cells In Mood Disorders. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2014 Jun 27:1-11. PMID: 24969726

Boldrini M, Mann JJ. Depression and Suicide. In: Neurobiology of Brain Disorders. Biological Basis of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders. Edited by Michael J. Zigmond, Joseph T. Coyle and Lewis P. Rowland. Elsevier, San Diego, CA, USA, 2014. Pages 709-729


Boldrini M, Santiago AN, Hen R, Dwork AJ, Rosoklija GB, Tamir H, Arango V Mann JJ. Hippocampal granule neuron number and dentate gyrus volume in antidepressant-treated and untreated major depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Jan 7. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.


Boldrini M, Hen R, Underwood MD, Rosoklija GB, Dwork AJ, Mann JJ, Arango V. Hippocampal Angiogenesis and Progenitor Cell Proliferation are Increased with Antidepressant Use in Major Depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Oct 1;72(7):562-571.


Boldrini M, Arango V. Antidepressants, age and neuroprogenitors. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews. 2010 Jan;35(1):351-352. doi: 10.1038/npp.2009.130

Boldrini M, Arango V. Consequences of the Stress Response: Stress and suicide. In: L.R. Squire (Ed.) New Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Elsevier, Oxford, UK. 2010, Pages 471-479


Boldrini M, Underwood MD, Hen R, Rosoklija GB, Dwork AJ, Mann JJ, Arango V. Antidepressants increase neural progenitor cells in the human hippocampus. Neuropsychopharmacology 2009; 34(11):2376-2389 e-Pub ahead of print. PM:19606083


Boldrini M, Underwood MD, Mann JJ, Arango V. Serotonin-1A autoreceptor binding in the dorsal raphe nucleus of depressed suicides. J Psychiatr Res 2008; May;42(6):433-442


Boldrini M, Del Pace L, Placidi GP, Keilp J, Ellis SP, Signori S, Placidi GF, Cappa SF: Selective cognitive deficits in obsessive-compulsive disorder compared to panic disorder with agoraphobia. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2005; Feb;111(2):150-158

Boldrini M, Underwood MD, Mann JJ, Arango V: More tryptophan hydroxylase in the brainstem dorsal raphe nucleus in depressed suicides. Brain Res 2005; Apr 11;1041(1):19-28

Boldrini M, Giromella A, Martini A, Rossi M, Becherini F, Castagna M, Sorbi S, Placidi GF: Serotonin transporter density in cortical areas of subjects with Alzheimer Disease and controls. Journal of Psychopathology 2005; 9(Suppl. N. 1):13-20


Del Rosso A, Boldrini M, D'Agostino D, Placidi GP, Scarpato A, Pignone A, Generini S, Konntinen Y, Zoppi M, Vlak T, Placidi GF, Matucci-Cerinic M: Health related quality of life in systemic sclerosis as measured by SF 36: relationship with clinical and biological markers. Arthritis & Rheumatism (Arthritis Care & Research) 2004; 51(3):475-481

Ricca V, Nacmias B, Boldrini M, Cellini E, Di Bernardo M, Ravaldi C, Rotella CM, Sorbi S: Psychopathological traits and 5-HT2A receptor promoter polymorphism (-1438 G/A) in patients suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Neurosci Letters 2004; 365(2):92-96


Boldrini M, Rossi M, Placidi GF. Paroxetine efficacy in stuttering treatment. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2003; Sep;6(3):311-2

Mannucci E, Ricca V, Filetti S, Boldrini M, Rotella CM: Eating behavior and thyroid disease in female obese patients. Eating Behaviors 2003; 4:173-179

Ravaldi C, Vannacci A, Zucchi T, Mannucci E, Cabras PL, Boldrini M, Murciano L, Rotella CM, Ricca V: Eating disorders and body image disturbances among ballet dancers, gymnasium users and body builders. Psychopathology 2003; 36:247-254


Arango V, Underwood MD, Boldrini M, Tamir H, Kassir SA, Hsiung SC, Chen JJX, Mann JJ: Serotonin 1A receptors, serotonin transporter binding and serotonin transporter mRNA expression are reduced in the brainstem of depressed suicide victims. Neuropsychopharmacology 2001; 25(6):892-903


Boldrini M, Placidi GP: Neuropsychology of obsessive-compulsive disorder: review and experimental design. Psychiatry Studies 1999; 2:24-29


Boldrini M, Placidi GPA, Marazziti D. Applications of chaos theories to psychiatry: A review and future perspectives. CNS Spectrum, 1998, 3,22-29

Placidi GPA, Boldrini M, Patronelli A, Fiore E, Chiovato L, Perugi G, Marazziti D: Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in thyroid disease patients. Neuropsychobiology, 1998; 38(4):222-225


Toni C, Cappa S, Boldrini M, Frare F, Pedri S, Medda P, Perugi G. Selective neuropsychological dysfunction in patients with panic disorder-agoraphobia. Biological Psychiatry 1997; 42:1s-297s

Toni C, Cappa S, Perugi G, Boldrini M, Frare F, Pedri S, Medda P, Cassano GB: A selective pattern of neuropsychological dysfunction in patients with panic disorder-agoraphobia. CNS Spectrum 1997; 2:64-67


Boldrini M, Placidi GP, Mosca M, Caponi L, Bombardieri S: Psychiatric disorders and immunological parameters in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. J Neural Transmission 1996; 103:10-18