Columbia University Medical Center

‘Wunderkind’ Bianca Marlin Probes the Biology of Parenting

Last month, Bianca Jones Marlin, PhD, was among the first of a group of early-career North American scientists to receive a STAT Wunderkinds award, which recognizes the brightest young minds in life science. Dr. Marlin is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Richard Axel, MD.

The award is based on the research she performed during graduate school at NYU looking at the impact of the hormone oxytocin on maternal behavior. Dr. Marlin hypothesized that maternal behavior, which shapes a child’s response to environment, may be rooted in biology. In 2016, Dr. Marlin’s work was recognized by the Society for Neuroscience with the Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Currently, Dr. Marlin is studying how the trauma that a parent may experience is passed down to offspring via epigenetic mechanisms. She says her research was inspired by the observation in her own family that unrelated siblings respond differently to the same physical and social environment.