Headshot photo of Rita P. Cervera Juanes, Ph.D.

Rita P. Cervera Juanes, Ph.D.

  • Research Assistant Professor, Oregon National Primate Research Center


Rita Cervera Juanes is a Research Assistant Professor in the Primate Genetics Section, of the Division of Neuroscience at the ONPRC. She earned her Ph.D. in Biology from the Polytechnical University of Valencia, in Valencia Spain, in 2004. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and a Research Associate at the Research Center Prince Felipe in Spain from 2004-2010. Her research was focused on the reprogramming mechanisms occurring during early embryonic development in mammals. In 2011 she was recruited at the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences Division and in 2012 she joined the Division of Neurosciences at the ONPRC to expand her epigenetic studies in the field of substance use disorders.


Her research interests focus on the study of the genetic and epigenetic contributions to diseases. Of particular interest for Dr. Cervera-Juanes is in understanding the role the genes and their regulatory mechanisms in establishing risk to develop certain disorders, such as substance use disorders. She is also interested in investigating the interactions between substances of abuse and the genes, and how those interactions modulate future behaviors. The identification of the specific molecular targets that respond to drug abuse will aid in the development of more specific pharmacological approaches for the treatment and prevention of these disorders. An additional area of interest for Dr. Cervera-Juanes is to decipher the mechanisms underlying the heritability of risk for substance use disorders.


Education and training

    • B.A., 2000, University of Valencia
    • Ph.D., 2004, University of Valencia

Areas of interest

  • Genetics
  • Epigenetics
  • Gene regulation
  • Substance use disorders
  • Inheritance of genetic and epigenetic risk factors for disease.


Selected publications

  • Cervera-Juanes R, Wilhem LJ, Park B, Lee R, Locke J, Helms C, Gonzales S, Wand G, Jones SR, Grant KA, Ferguson B. MAOA expression predicts vulnerability for alcohol use. Mol Psychiatry. 2016 Apr;21(4):472-9. doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.93. Epub 2015 Jul 7. PubMed PMID: 26148813; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4705001.
  • Cervera-Juanes R, Wilhelm LJ, Park B, Grant KA, Ferguson B. Genome-wide analysis of the nucleus accumbens identifies DNA methylation signals differentiating low/binge from heavy alcohol drinking. Alcohol. 2017 May;60:103-113. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2016.11.003. Epub 2016 Nov 10. PubMed PMID: 27866807; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5420479.
  • Cervera-Juanes R, Wilhelm LJ, Park B, Grant KA, Ferguson B. Alcohol-dose-dependent DNA methylation and expression in the nucleus accumbens identifies coordinated regulation of synaptic genes. Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 10;7(1):e994. doi: 10.1038/tp.2016.266. PubMed PMID: 28072409; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5545731.
  • Balbo S, Juanes RC, Khariwala S, Baker EJ, Daunais JB, Grant KA. Increased levels of the acetaldehyde-derived DNA adduct N 2-ethyldeoxyguanosine in oral mucosa DNA from Rhesus monkeys exposed to alcohol. Mutagenesis. 2016 Sep;31(5):553-8. doi: 10.1093/mutage/gew016. Epub 2016 Apr 7. PubMed PMID: 27056945; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4992343.
  • Bimber BN, Raboin MJ, Letaw J, Nevonen KA, Spindel JE, McCouch SR, Cervera-Juanes R, Spindel E, Carbone L, Ferguson B, Vinson A. Whole-genome characterization in pedigreed non-human primates using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) and imputation. BMC Genomics. 2016 Aug 24;17:676. doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2966-x. PubMed PMID: 27558348; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4997765.
  • Bimber BN, Ramakrishnan R, Cervera-Juanes R, Madhira R, Peterson SM, Norgren RB Jr, Ferguson B. Whole genome sequencing predicts novel human disease models in rhesus macaques. Genomics. 2017 Jul;109(3-4):214-220. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2017.04.001. Epub 2017 Apr 23. PubMed PMID: 28438488; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5513488


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