The Kenny Laboratory 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. They 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.
Our research is focused on understanding the molecular neurobiology of drug addiction and obesity, with an emphasis on developing novel therapeutics for these disorders. We take a multidisciplinary approach that includes mouse behavioral genetics, viral-mediated gene transfer, protein and RNA biology, and we combine these techniques with complex behavioral procedures to better understand the mechanics of addiction and obesity. Current projects include understanding the role of noncoding RNAs and other epigenetic machineries in addiction, identifying the nicotinic receptor subunits that regulate tobacco dependence, investigating the role of brain reward pathways in obesity, and developing small molecule therapeutics for addiction.
Running Cell Metabolism Oct 2015on Empty: Leptin Signaling in VTA Regulates Reward from Physical Activity.
Chen Z, Kenny PJ.
Cell Metabolism. 2015 Oct 6; 22(4):540-1.doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.09.021.
Corticostriatal microRNAs in addiction.
Heyer MP, Kenny PJ.
Brain Research. 2015 Aug 4. pii: S0006-8993(15)00592-2. [Epub ahead of print] Review.
An Accessory Agonist Binding Site Promotes Activation of α4β2* Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors.
Wang J, Kuryatov A, Sriram A, Jin Z, Kamenecka TM, Kenny PJ, Lindstrom J.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2015 May 29;290(22):13907-18.
Using opioid receptors to expand the chemogenetic and optogenetic toolbox.
Damez-Werno DM, Kenny PJ.
Neuron. 2015 May 20;86(4):853-5.
Neuroscience: Binge drinking and brain stress systems.
O’Connor RM, Kenny PJ.
Nature, 2015 Apr 9;520(7546):168-9
The food addiction.
Scientific American 2013 Sep; 309(3).
Dopamine D2 receptors and striatopallidal transmission in addiction and obesity.
Kenny PJ, Voren G, Johnson PM.
Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2013 Aug; 23(4).
MicroRNAs and Drug Addiction.
Bali P, Kenny PJ.
Frontiers in Genetics 2013 May; 4(43).
Exploring the epigenetics of cocaine resistance.
Hope BT, Skinner MK, Kenny PJ, Akbarian S.
Nature Medicine 2013 Feb; 19(2).
Molecular, cellular, and structural mechanisms of cocaine addiction: a key role for microRNAs.
Jonkman S, Kenny PJ.
Neuropsychopharmacology, 2013 Jan;38(1):198-211
Normal midbrain dopaminergic neuron development and function in miR-133b mutant mice.
Heyer MP, Pani AK, Smeyne RJ, Kenny PJ, Feng G.
Journal of Neuroscience 2012 Aug; 32(32).
Disubstituted piperidines as potent orexin (hypocretin) receptor antagonists.
Jiang R, Song X, Bali P, Smith A, Bayona CR, Lin L, Cameron MD, McDonald PH, Kenny PJ, Kamenecka TM.
Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2012 Jun; 22(12).
MicroRNAs in neuronal function and dysfunction.
Im HI, Kenny PJ.
Trends in Neurosciences 2012 May; 35(5).
Methylation, memory and addiction.
Bali P, Im HI, Kenny PJ.
Epigenetics 2011 Jun; 6(6).
Habenular α5 nicotinic receptor subunit signalling controls nicotine intake.
Fowler CD, Lu Q, Johnson PM, Marks MJ, Kenny PJ.
Nature 2011 Mar; 471(7340).
Reward mechanisms in obesity: new insights and future directions.
Neuron 2011 Feb; 69(4).
MeCP2 controls BDNF expression and cocaine intake through homeostatic interactions with microRNA-212.
Im HI, Hollander JA, Bali P, Kenny PJ.
Nature Neuroscience 2010 Sep; 13(9).
Striatal microRNA controls cocaine intake through CREB signalling.
Hollander JA, Im HI, Amelio AL, Kocerha J, Bali P, Lu Q, Willoughby D, Wahlestedt C, Conkright MD, Kenny PJ.
Nature 2010 Jul; 466(7303).
Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats.
Johnson PM, Kenny PJ.
Nature Neuroscience 2010 May; 13(5).
Diane Damez-werno and Richard O’Connor receive Mentor Recognition from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Center for Excellence in Youth Education for the Lloyd Sherman Scholars Program (August 2016).
Alex Duncan, Molly Heyer, Sietse Jonkman, Alex Smith, and George Voren presented posters at the 2015 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Conference in Chicago, Il.
Ryan Hakim, NIDA Summer Intern, was selected to present his summer research internship project in the Kenny Lab to the NIDA staff in Bethesda, MD (September 2015).
Paul Kenny received the Tom Connor Distinguished Investigator Award at the 9th Neuroscience Ireland Conference on Frontiers in Neuroscience: Diseases and Treatments (September 2015).
Paul Kenny was an invited Mars Keynote Speaker for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) annual conference (July 2015).
Paul Kenny was a speaker and session chair at the Janelia Conference on Motivational Circuits in Natural and Learned Behaviors (March 2015).
Paul Kenny was the distinguished guest speaker at the third annual Waggoner Center for Alcohol/Addiction Research Conference at the University of Texas at Austin (March 2015).
Paul Kenny was elected a Fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).
Paul Kenny was elected as Member of the Advisory Council for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Paul Kenny was an invited speaker at the Nebraska Research and Innovation Neuroscience Conference (September 2014) . His talk was on Mechanisms Underlying Motivational Properties of Nicotine.
Paul Kenny was an Invited Speaker at the Molecular Basis of Addiction: Synaptic Modification (with Marc Caron, and David Sulzer), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ASBMB), San Diego (April 2014). His talk was on Molecular Basis of Addiction: Synaptic Modification.
Paul Kenny gave a Basic Science Theme Lecture (February 2014) on New Insights into the Mechanisms of Compulsive Nicotine Intake during the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Conference in Seattle, Washington.
The Irish Times
What causes cravings for high-calorie foods?
Can Eating Junk Food Really Be an Addiction?
The Colbert Report
Thought for Food – Corn Diapers, Fatty Foods & Jamie Oliver
miRNA stunts drug addiction
Watch Paul Kenny and the Kenny Lab
The Friedman Brain Institute: Conquering Brain Disease
Sugar vs. Fat
New York Daily News
Fatty foods may be just as addictive as heroin and cocaine: study
Good Morning America (ABC)
The Science of Food Cravings
Junk food as ‘addictive as drugs’
Understanding the mind of a cocaine addict
The Wall Street Journal
Study: New Evidence for Food Addiction
The Science of Substance Abuse
AstraZeneca and Eolas to develop Orexin-1 receptor antagonist for addiction
Katie Couric, CBS News
Katie Couric’s Notebook: Food Addiction
Addicted to Fat: Overeating May Alter the Brain as Much as Hard Drugs
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Meet the Team
Molly Heyer, PhD
Masago Ishikawa, PhD
Richard O’Connor, PhD
Zuxin Chen, PhD
Alexander Smith, PhD
Purva Bali, M.Sc.