Cynthia Moreton Kuhn

Cynthia Moreton Kuhn
Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Amgen Faculty Mentor
Campus mail: 308 Research Drive, Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 684-8828

This laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach using both animal and model systems to study the biology of addiction and stress/depression. We are specifically interested in how adolescence and the hormonal changes of puberty and aging influence vulnerability to these conditions. Specific projects underway include: (1) the biology of sex differences in addictive drug action, (2) role of maturing dopamine systems in the onset of drug taking during adolescence, (3) the neurobiology of adolescent insensitivity to threat and its role in drug use.
Studies of sex differences focus on understanding estrogen and testosterone actions in the brain that are relevant to addiction, depression and stress-related behaviors. We are particularly interested in molecular targets of estrogen action including key proteins that regulate dopamine neurons and the stress peptide CRF. Current projects include the role of glucocorticoid and reproductive hormones in alcohol and opioid dependence in adolescence.  Adolescent studies are exploring the impact of maturing dopamine systems as well as cortical inhibition of these systems on novelty-seeking/risk taking as predictors of substance abuse vulnerability as well as responses to addictive drugs.
In addition to these animal studies, we collaborate actively with clinicians in psychiatry who are studying addiction and stress-related illness in humans, and participate in development of drug-abuse education and general neuroscience education materials for students, parents and other members of the lay public.

Education and Training

  • Duke University, Ph.D. 1976

Selected Grants and Awards

Publications

Alcohol and women: What is the role of biologic factors?

Biological factors influence almost every factor that contributes to alcohol consumption: its metabolism by the liver, its neurochemical effects in the brain, and its activation of complex processes like reinforcement and aversion.

Anabolic steroids.

The term "anabolic steroids" refers to testosterone derivatives that are used either clinically or by athletes for their anabolic properties.

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