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Dr. Christopher Jenney


Dr. Jenney is the principal investigator of the Behavioral & Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory. The Laboratory’s research focus is investigating dietary nutrients’ effect on individual differences in vulnerability to addiction and addiction-like behavior. With the current opioid epidemic, it is important to recognize that many people are more susceptible than others to drug addiction. Dr. Jenney’s team studies the biology of these individual differences and seeks to identify nutritional influences, such as nutrient deficiencies, which make susceptible individuals more vulnerable. Using animal models of addiction, the Laboratory studies the behavioral differences which emerge after dietary nutrient deficiencies and supplementation. The biological and molecular bases for this behavior are then studied in vitro to elucidate the genetic and neurological mechanisms underlying vulnerability to drugs of abuse.

The primary emphases of the Laboratory are iron and omega-3 fatty acids deficiencies and the role supplementation with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil, EPA, DHA) have on alleviating vulnerability to drugs of abuse. With this knowledge, the ultimate goal is to develop nutritional interventions that dieticians, therapists and psychiatrists can utilize to help recovering addicts avoid relapse and remain drug-free, productive members of society.

Selected Publications

  • Jenney CB, Alexander DN, Jones BC, Unger EL, Grigson PS. Preweaning iron deficiency increases non-contingent responding during cocaine self-administration in rats. Physiol Behav. 2016 Dec 1;167:282-288. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.09.007. Epub 2016 Sep 14. PubMed PMID: 27640134.
  • Jenney CB, Petko J, Ebersole B, Njatcha CV, Uzamere TO, Alexander DN, Grigson PS, Levenson R. Early avoidance of a heroin-paired taste-cue and subsequent addiction-like behavior in rats. Brain Res Bull. 2016 May;123:61-70. doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2015.10.008. Epub 2015 Oct 19. PubMed PMID: 26494018
  • Jaremko KM, Thompson NL Jr, Reyes BA, Jin J, Ebersole B, Jenney CB, Grigson PS, Levenson R, Berrettini WH, Van Bockstaele EJ. Morphine-induced trafficking of a mu-opioid receptor interacting protein in rat locus coeruleus neurons. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Apr 3;50:53-65. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.12.003. Epub 2013 Dec 12. PubMed PMID: 24333843

Courses Currently Teaching

NUTR 2360 | Nutrition Science

Current Lab Members

Graduate Students

Christina Ramirez

Undergraduate Students

Melissa Heath

Contact Information

Office - FCS 287J
Phone: 512-245-7655
Office Hours: