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.
B.A., Biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin
Ph.D., Neuropsychopharmacology, University of London
Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2001-2003), The Peter F. McManus Charitable Trust.
Young Scientist Travel Award (2001), from the International Society for Neurochemistry, to attend the Neurochemistry Winter Conference, Sölden, Austria.
Young Investigator Travel Award (2004), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) meeting.
Young Investigator Award (2004-2006), National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD).
Travel Award (2007), Winter College on Brain Research (WCBR), Snowmass, Colorado.
New Investigator Research (NIR) Award (2007-2010), James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program, Florida Department of Health.
Elected Full Member (2009), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).
Jarvik-Russell Young Investigator Award (2010), Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).
Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award (2010), Society for Neuroscience (SfN).
Member of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) for the NIDA Intramural Research Program.
Member of the Molecular Neurogenetics Study Section [MNG].
Editorial Board member of Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience.
Fowler CD, Lu Q, 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.
Schaefer A, Im H-I, Venø MT, Fowler CD, Min A, Intrator A, Kjems J, Kenny PJ, O’Carroll D & Greengard P (2010) Argonaute 2 in dopamine 2 receptor expressing neurons regulates cocaine addiction. Journal of Experimental Medicine 207(9):1843-51.
Hollander JA, Im H-I, Amelio A, Kocerha J, Bali P, Lu Q, Willoughby D, 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.
Kocerha J, Huang J, Faghihi MA, Willoughby D, Orum H, Elmen J, Kauppinen S, Kenny PJ & Wahlestedt C (2009) MicroRNA-219 modulates NMDA receptor mediated neurobehavioral dysfunction. Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA 106(9):3507-12.
Hollander JA, Lu Q, Cameron MD, Kamenecha T & Kenny PJ (2008) Insular hypocretin transmission regulates nicotine reward. Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA 105(49):19480-5.
Faghihi MA, Khalid A, Huang J, Modarresi F, Wood DE, Sahagan BG, Morgan TE, Finch CE, Kenny PJ & Wahlestedt C (2008) A noncoding RNA is elevated in Alzheimer’s disease and drives rapid feed-forward regulation of β-secretase expression. Nature Medicine 14:723-730.
Kenny PJ (2007) Brain reward systems and compulsive drug use. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 28:135-141.
Kenny PJ, Chen SA, Kitamura O, Markou A & Koob GF (2006) Conditioned withdrawal drives heroin consumption and decreases reward sensitivity. Journal of Neuroscience 26:5894-900.
Boutrel B, Kenny PJ, Specio SE, Martin-Fardon R, Markou A, Koob GF, de Lecea L(2005) Role for hypocretin in mediating stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 102:19168-19173.
Kenny PJ, Markou A (2005) Conditioned nicotine withdrawal profoundly decreases the activity of brain reward systems. Journal of Neuroscience 25:6208-6212
Kenny PJ, Markou A (2004) The ups and downs of addiction: role of metabotropic glutamate receptors. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 25:265-272.
Ahmed S*, Kenny PJ*, Koob GF, Markou A (2002) Neurobiological evidence for hedonic allostasis associated with escalating cocaine use. Nature Neuroscience 5:625-626. (*Denotes equal contribution).