Photo of Kari J Buck, Ph.D.

Kari J Buck Ph.D.

  • (503) 220-8262
    • 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


  • "Distinct roles for two chromosome 1 loci in ethanol withdrawal, consumption, and conditioned place preference." Frontiers in Genetics  In: , Vol. 9, No. AUG, 323, 27.08.2018.
  • "Limbic circuitry activation in ethanol withdrawal is regulated by a chromosome 1 locus." Alcohol  In: , Vol. 58, 01.02.2017, p. 153-160.
  • "A systems approach implicates a brain mitochondrial oxidative homeostasis co-expression network in genetic vulnerability to alcohol withdrawal." Frontiers in Genetics  In: , Vol. 7, No. JAN, 218, 03.01.2017.
  • "The Substantia Nigra Pars Reticulata in Sedative-Hypnotic Withdrawal."   General Processes and Mechanisms, Prescription Medications, Caffeine and Areca, Polydrug Misuse, Emerging Addictions and Non-Drug Addictions. Vol. 3 Elsevier Inc., 2016. p. 345-355.
  • "The multiple PDZ domain protein Mpdz/MUPP1 regulates opioid tolerance and opioid-induced hyperalgesia." BMC Genomics  In: , Vol. 17, No. 1, 313, 29.04.2016.
  • "G Protein-Gated Inwardly Rectifying Potassium Channel Subunit 3 Knock-Out Mice Show Enhanced Ethanol Reward." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research  In: , 2016.
  • "Acute Ethanol Withdrawal Impairs Contextual Learning and Enhances Cued Learning." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research  In: , Vol. 39, No. 2, 01.02.2015, p. 282-290.
  • "Novel MPDZ/MUPP1 transgenic and knockdown models confirm Mpdz's role in ethanol withdrawal and support its role in voluntary ethanol consumption." Addiction Biology  In: , Vol. 20, No. 1, 01.01.2015, p. 143-147.
  • "GIRK Channels : A Potential Link Between Learning and Addiction."   International Review of Neurobiology. Vol. 123 Academic Press Inc., 2015. p. 239-277 (International Review of Neurobiology; Vol. 123).
  • "Dual-Trait Selection for Ethanol Consumption and Withdrawal : Genetic and Transcriptional Network Effects." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research  In: , Vol. 38, No. 12, 01.12.2014, p. 2915-2924.
  • "Mpdz expression in the caudolateral substantia nigra pars reticulata is crucially involved in alcohol withdrawal." Genes, Brain and Behavior  In: , Vol. 13, No. 8, 01.11.2014, p. 769-776.
  • "Genetic variability of respiratory complex abundance, organization and activity in mouse brain." Genes, Brain and Behavior  In: , Vol. 13, No. 2, 02.2014, p. 135-143.
  • "Delay and trace fear conditioning in C57BL/6 and DBA/2 mice : Issues of measurement and performance." Learning and Memory  In: , Vol. 21, No. 8, 2014, p. 380-393.
  • "The genetics of gene expression in complex mouse crosses as a tool to study the molecular underpinnings of behavior traits." Mammalian Genome  In: , Vol. 25, No. 1-2, 2014, p. 12-22.
  • "A spontaneous deletion of α-Synuclein is associated with an increase in CB1 mRNA transcript and receptor expression in the hippocampus and amygdala : Effects on alcohol consumption." Synapse  In: , Vol. 67, No. 6, 06.2013, p. 280-289.
  • "Discovering genes involved in alcohol dependence and other alcohol responses : role of animal models." Alcohol research : current reviews  In: , Vol. 34, No. 3, 2012, p. 367-374.
  • "Striatal involvement in human alcoholism and alcohol consumption, and withdrawal in animal models." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research  In: , Vol. 35, No. 10, 10.2011, p. 1739-1748.
  • "Substantia nigra pars reticulata is crucially involved in barbiturate and ethanol withdrawal in mice." Behavioural Brain Research  In: , Vol. 218, No. 1, 17.03.2011, p. 152-157.
  • "Discovering genes involved in alcohol dependence and other alcohol responses : Role of animal models." Alcohol Research and Health  In: , Vol. 34, No. 3, 2011, p. 367-374.
  • "Computational detection of alternative exon usage." Frontiers in Neuroscience  In: , No. MAY, Article 69, 2011.
  • "Evaluating gene expression in C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mouse striatum using RNA-Seq and microarrays." PLoS One  In: , Vol. 6, No. 3, e17820, 2011.
  • "Rostroventral caudate putamen involvement in ethanol withdrawal is influenced by a chromosome 4 locus." Genes, Brain and Behavior  In: , Vol. 9, No. 7, 10.2010, p. 768-776.
  • "A comparison of selected quantitative trait loci associated with alcohol use phenotypes in humans and mouse models." Addiction Biology  In: , Vol. 15, No. 2, 04.2010, p. 185-199.
  • "Intraperitoneal catheter placement for pharmacological imaging studies in conscious mice." Lab Animal  In: , Vol. 39, No. 1, 01.2010, p. 23-25.
  • "Identifying Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) and Genes (QTGs) for Alcohol-Related Phenotypes in Mice." International Review of Neurobiology  In: , Vol. 91, No. C, 2010, p. 173-204.
  • "Mapping a barbiturate withdrawal locus to a 0.44 Mb interval and analysis of a novel null mutant identify a role for Kcnj9 (GIRK3) in withdrawal from pentobarbital, zolpidem, and ethanol." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 29, No. 37, 16.09.2009, p. 11662-11673.
  • "Differential activation of limbic circuitry associated with chronic ethanol withdrawal in DBA/2J and C57BL/6J mice." Alcohol  In: , Vol. 43, No. 6, 09.2009, p. 411-420.
  • "High throughput sequencing in mice : A platform comparison identifies a preponderance of cryptic SNPs." BMC Genomics  In: , Vol. 10, 1471, 17.08.2009, p. 379.
  • "Involvement of the limbic basal ganglia in ethanol withdrawal convulsivity in mice is influenced by a chromosome 4 locus." Journal of Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 28, No. 39, 24.09.2008, p. 9840-9849.
  • "Mapping a locus for alcohol physical dependence and associated withdrawal to a 1.1 Mb interval of mouse chromosome 1 syntenic with human chromosome 1q23.2-23.3." Genes, Brain and Behavior  In: , Vol. 7, No. 5, 07.2008, p. 560-567.

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