Scripps Florida - The Scripps Research Institute Department of Neuroscience

Department of Neuroscience


Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D.

Paul Kenny

Associate Professor with Tenure

B.A., Biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 1996
Ph.D., Neuropsychopharmacology, University of London, 2000

Department of Molecular Therapeutics
Department of Neuroscience
The Scripps Research  Institute
130 Scripps Way 2A2
Jupiter, Florida 33458
Telephone: 561-228-2231
Fax: 561-228-3083


Research Interests

Our research is focused on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of drug addiction, obesity and schizophrenia, with an emphasis on the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in these processes. We employ a multidisciplinary approach that includes complex behavioral paradigms, physiological analyses and molecular biological techniques. Current projects include the utilization of vector-based delivery systems to modify gene expression in the brains of rodents to identify novel signaling cascades that may play a role in addiction-like behaviors.

Selected Publications

Kenny PJ (2013) Is obesity an addiction? Scientific American.

Hope BT, Skinner MK, Kenny PJ, Akbarian S (2013) Exploring the epigenetics of cocaine resistance. Nature Medicine 19(2):136-7.

Heyer MP, Pani AK, Smeyne RJ, Kenny PJ & Feng G (2012) Normal midbrain dopaminergic neuron development and function in miR-133b mutant mice. Journal of Neuroscience 32(32):10887-94.

Im HI & Kenny PJ (2012) MicroRNAs in neuronal function and dysfunction. Trends in Neuroscience 35(5):325-34.

Fowler CD, Lu Q, Johnson PM Marks MJ  & Kenny PJ (2011) Habenular α5* nicotinic receptor signaling controls nicotine intake. Nature 471(7340):597-601.

Kenny PJ (2011) Reward mechanisms in obesity: New insights and future directions. Neuron 69:664-79.

Im H-I, Hollander JA, Bali P & Kenny PJ (2010) MeCP2 controls BDNF expression and cocaine intake through homeostatic interactions with microRNA-212. Nature Neuroscience 13(9):1120-7.

Hollander JA, Im H-I, Amelio A, Kocerha J, Bali P, Lu Q, Willoughby D, Wahlestedt C, Conkright M & Kenny PJ (2010) Striatal microRNA controls cocaine intake through regulation of CREB signaling. Nature 466, 197–202.

Johnson P & Kenny PJ (2010) Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nature Neuroscience 13(5):635-41.

Awards, Recognition, Appointments, and Honors

2004 Young Investigator Travel Award, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) meeting.
2004-2006 Young Investigator Travel Award,National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).
2007 Travel Award, Winter College on Brain Research (WCBR), Snowmass, Colorado.
2007-2010 New Investigator Research (NIR) Award, James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, Florida Department of Health.
2009 Elected Full Member, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).
2010 Jarvik-Russell Young Investigator Award (2010), Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).
2010 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award , Society for Neuroscience (SfN).
2012 Mathilde Solowey Lecture Award in the Neurosciences, Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, hosted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH).

Member of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) for the NIDA Intramural Research Program.
Member of the Molecular Neurogenetics Study Section [MNG]
Handling Editor for Journal of Neuroscience and Journal of Neurochemistry
Editorial Board member of Biological Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience.