The University of Chicago News Office
Dec. 2, 2004 Press Contact: William Harms
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Howard Moltz, 77

    Howard Moltz
Howard Moltz


Howard Moltz, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of Chicago, died Friday, November 26, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Moltz, a resident of Hyde Park, was 77.

Moltz was a developmental biopsychologist and a pioneer in the study of imprinting and maternal behavior. He discovered maternal pheromones used by female rats to attract their nursing pups, thermoregulate and protect them from diseases during weaning. He then went on to study the behavioral role of male brain temperatures during mating. Building on his animal work as a model, he and colleagues later used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to explore connections between human brain function and sexual behavior in men.

Combining PET scan technology with pharmacology, Moltz and colleagues showed that exclusively homosexual men utilize serotonin differently in specific brain regions than do heterosexual men, suggesting that homosexuality as a behavior may not be a choice.

The evidence, published this fall in the journal Brain Research, first came in a paper presented in 2003 at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference.

“He and his laboratory did some very innovative research, which always told an important and interesting story,” said Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago. “He was very good at training students and junior faculty to make sense of data. In his papers, his writing was stunningly clear. His students have gone on to be leaders in the field.”

Moltz was born in New York City and received a B.A. in philosophy and psychology in 1949 and a Ph.D. in psychology in 1953, both from New York University.

He was a faculty member at Brooklyn College until 1970, when he joined the University of Chicago’s faculty as a Professor of Psychology. He was named department Chairman later that year and served in that position until 1973.

He published dozens of research papers on topics such as imprinting behaviors and the impact of pheromones. His work looked, for instance, at the ways in which pheromones affect maternal behavior.

In later years, Moltz also turned his interests to Jewish studies, helping to organize the University of Chicago's Committee on Jewish Studies, publishing several papers in the field and teaching.

“He was an excellent committee member and helped make sure we looked at a diverse set of opinions when we went about our work,” said Philip Bohlman, the Mary Werkman Professor in Music and Chair of the Committee on Jewish Studies.

“Howard always challenged us to understand the potential for Jewish Studies to expand its traditional disciplinary base and thereby to distinguish what we at Chicago would contribute to the field as a whole.”

Moltz was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and served as president of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology.

He is survived by his wife, Marilyn, three daughters, Erica Moltz, Lauren Moltz and Marci Malter, and seven grandchildren.
Last modified at 04:46 PM CST on Thursday, December 02, 2004.

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