Faculty and Staff

Principal investigators

Jennifer Loftis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University
Research Scientist, Portland VA Medical Center

Method of Contact:
Portland VA Medical Center, R&D 16
3710 SW US Veterans Hospital Road
Portland, Oregon 97239
Phone:  503 220-8262 ext. 57155 (office) or ext. 54725 (lab)

BA, Psychology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1990
BA, Economics, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1990
MA, Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1994
PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), 2002
Post-doctoral fellowship, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, OHSU, 2004 - 2007

Dr. Jennifer Loftis is a Research Scientist at the Portland VA Medical Center and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU. Her research is focused on investigating the neuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to depression and cognitive impairments, discovering treatment targets, and testing novel interventions for improving depression and neuropsychiatric recovery. Dr. Loftis’ translational research program uses rodent models (e.g., Flinders Sensitive Line rats) and humans to characterize inflammatory pathways involved in cognitive dysfunction and neuropsychiatric symptoms, particularly in patients with a history of substance abuse and hepatitis C viral infection.  Recently, she identified a novel role for cytokines in the development of depressive symptoms in patients with chronic hepatitis C, and this finding has led to the initial testing of hypotheses regarding how circulating inflammatory cytokines affect central nervous system functioning. Dr. Loftis’ long-term goal as a principal investigator is to expand our understanding of the biochemical and molecular mechanisms associated with neuropsychiatric impairments and CNS inflammation.

Dr. Loftis is an active mentor and teacher in the community.  At OHSU, she is a small group facilitator for the Principles of Clinical Medicine course within the School of Medicine, and a mentor for the Partnership for Scientific Inquiry. She also mentors for the STEM Mentor Project and is a member of the Neuroscientist/Teacher Partner Program to educate K-12 children in neuroscience and current research.

Dr. Loftis balances her research and teaching responsibilities with administrative and community service.  She serves as a member of the Portland VA Medical Center Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), the Portland VA Medical Center Research & Development Committee, and the OHSU Department of Psychiatry Promotions & Tenure Committee. 

Research, Education and Administration/Service

Selected Recent Publications:
Loftis J.M., Choi D., Hoffman W.F., Huckans M. (in press). Methamphetamine causespersistent immune dysregulation:  A cross-species, translational report. Neurotoxicity Research. Oct 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Anacker, A.M.J., Loftis, J.M., Kaur, S., Ryabinin, A.E. (2010). Prairie voles as a novel model of socially-facilitated excessive drinking. Addiction Biology Jun 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Loftis, J.M., Huckans, M., Morasco, B.J. (2010). Neuroimmune mechanisms of cytokine-induced depression: current theories and novel treatment strategies. Neurobiology of Disease 37(3), pp. 519-33. (invited review).

Hauser, P., Morasco, B.J, Linke, A., Bjornson, D., Ruimy, S., Matthews, A., Rifai, M.A., Indest, D.W. & Loftis, J.M. (2009). Antiviral completion rates and sustained viral response in hepatitis C patients with- versus without- pre-existing major depressive disorder. Psychosomatics 50(5), pp. 500-5.

Loftis, J.M., Huckans, M., Ruimy, S., Hinrichs, D.J., Hauser, P.  (2008). Depressive symptoms in patients with chronic hepatitis C are correlated with elevated plasma levels of interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α. Neuroscience Letters 430(3):264-8.

Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2004). Interferon and Depression: A review. Journal of Affective Disorders 82(2), pp.175-190.

Marilyn Huckans, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University
Staff Psychologist and Neuropsychologist, Portland VA Medical Center

Method of Contact:
Portland VA Medical Center, P3MHN
3710 SW US Veterans Hospital Road
Portland, Oregon 97239
Phone:  503 220-8262 ext. 54689

B.S., Human Development and Family Studies, Cornell University, 1996
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, George Mason University, 2004
Neuropsychology Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Portland VA Medical Center, 2003-2005

Dr. Huckans’ translational research program integrates human, animal, and in vitro experiments to examine how neuroimmune factors contribute to the neuropsychiatric effects of medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders.  Currently, she has VA and NIH funded projects that utilize neuropsychological assessment, neuroimaging, and immunological techniques to study the cognitive and psychiatric effects of methamphetamine dependence, hepatitis C, and traumatic brain injury.  Based on novel findings from her research, Dr. Huckans is also investigating immunotherapies as a potential new direction for the treatment of addictions and substance-induced cognitive and psychiatric impairments.

Dr. Huckans provides neuropsychological assessment, cognitive rehabilitation, and consultation services through the Neuropsychology Service at PVAMC.  Dr. Huckans most recently developed and piloted a model group-based cognitive strategies training intervention for OIF/OEF veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury and persistent mild cognitive impairment.  In an effort to move toward evidence based treatment, an adapted version of this intervention is now be evaluated through a VA-funded multi-center randomized control trial.

Dr. Huckans actively mentors and supervises graduate students and post-doctoral fellows interested in clinical and research training. As Psychology Practicum Coordinator, she coordinates clinical placements for doctoral and master’s level psychology students at PVAMC.

Research, Education and Clinical/Service

Selected Recent Publications:
Loftis, J.M., Choi, D., Hoffman, W., & Huckans, M.S. (in press).  Methamphetamine causes persistent immune dysregulation:  A cross-species, translational report.  Neurotoxicity Research. Oct 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Huckans, M., Seelye, A., Woodhouse, J., Parcel, T., Mull, L., Schwartz, D., Mitchell, A., Lahna, D., Johnson, A., Loftis, J., Woods, S., Mitchell, S.H., and Hoffman, W.  (in press).  Discounting of delayed rewards and executive dysfunction in individuals infected with hepatitis C.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

Schwartz, D.L., Mitchell, A.D., Lahna, D.L., Luber, H.S., Huckans, M.S., Mitchell, S.H., & Hoffman, W.H.  (2010).  Global and local morphometric differences in recently abstinent methamphetamine-dependent individuals.  Neuroimage, 50(4), 1392-401.

Loftis, J.M., Huckans, M., & Morasco, B.  (2010). Neuroimmune mechanisms of cytokine-induced depression:  Current theories and novel treatment strategies.  Neurobiology of Disease, 37(3), pp. 519-33. 

Huckans, M., Pavawalla, P., Demadura, T., Kolessar, M., Seelye, A., Twamley, E., & Storzbach, D.  (2010).  A pilot study examining effects of group-based cognitive strategy training treatment on self-reported cognitive problems, psychiatric symptoms, functioning, and compensatory strategy use in OIF/OEF combat veterans with persistent mild cognitive disorder and history of traumatic brain injury.  Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 47(1), pp. 43-60.

Huckans, M., Seelye, A., Parcel, T., Mull, L., Woodhouse, J., Bjornson, D., Loftis, J.M., Morasco, B.J., Fuller, B., Sasaki, A., Storzbach, D., & Hauser, P.  (2009). The cognitive effects of hepatitis C in the presence and absence of a history of substance use disorder.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 15(1), pp.69-82. 

Research Associates and Assistants

Kate Shirley, M.A.
OHSU Clinical Psychology PhD Student

Emily Sano, M.A.
Research Associate

Evan Firsick, B.S.
Biological Science Lab Technician

Rebekah Hudson, B.S.
Research Assistant