Kari J. Buck, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Medicine
  • Scientist, VA Medical Center


A host of biological (genetic) and environmental factors interact in a complex manner throughout the addictive process to influence drug and alcohol use/abuse and contribute to relapse. My research uses preclinical (animal) models that closely approximate aspects of the human clinical situation to elucidate the gene and neural networks involved in drug response. We utilize robust behavioral models of drug and alcohol reward (e.g., conditioned place preference (CPP) and voluntary consumption phenotypes), dependence, and withdrawal (e.g., anxiety and depression-like behaviors, brain excitability/seizures). We use state-of-the-art approaches (e.g., RNA interference, stereotaxic site-directed pharmacological manipulations) to identify and rigorously test the role of specific genes (often referred to as quantitative trait loci/genes), larger gene networks (e.g., involved in oxidative stress, and a network involved in G-protein coupled receptor mediated signaling), brain regions, and pathways (e.g., limbic and basal ganglia, including amygdala, striatum, anterior cingulate cortex, substantia nigra, and hippocampus) in drug and alcohol response (e.g., sedative and euphoric actions), reward, dependence, and withdrawal. In collaboration with Behavioral Neuroscience faculty we also use neuroelectrophysiological approaches. 

1995-2002. Assistant Professor, Medical Psychology/Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU

2002-2008. Associate Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU, Portland

2002-present. VA Scientist, VAMC Portland

2008-present. Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, OHSU, Portland

Non-Academic Interests
Kayaking, biking, gardening, standup comedy, mysteries, soccer mom



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