About Chris

Dr. Chris Pierce has led the Laboratory of Addiction Neuroscience since 1997, beginning at the Boston University School of Medicine and moving to the UPenn School of Medicine in 2008. A Kentucky native (and still a passionate supporter of Wildcat basketball), Chris received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, where he first participated in neuroscience research in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Bardo. He received a PhD in neuroscience and psychology from Indiana University in 1993, where his mentor was Dr. George Rebec. Chris continued his training as a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Peter Kalivas’ laboratory at Washington State University.


Daniel H. Efron Research Award, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2013

Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for Innovative Research in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism, Society of Neuroscience, 2008

Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, 2006

NIDA Independent Scientist Award, K02 Research Career Development Award, 2006

J. Stewart and Dagmar K. Riley Dissertation Year Fellowship, awarded to the outstanding student in the Indiana University Graduate School, 1992

Graduate with Distinction, University of Kentucky College of Arts and Science, 1988

Graduate with Honors, University of Kentucky Department of Psychology, 1988

Oswald Research and Creativity Scholarship, University of Kentucky, 1988

Phi Beta Kappa Scholarly Research Award, University of Kentucky, 1988

Griffin Award, Kentucky Academy of Science, outstanding presentation, 1988

Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Honor Society, 1987

Omicron Delta Kappa, Leadership Honor Society, 1987

Psi Chi, Psychology Honor Society, 1986

Some of Chris’s Publications

Altered Oligodendrocyte Maturation and Myelin Maintenance: The Role of Antiretrovirals in HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders
Jensen BK, Monnerie H, Mannell MV, Gannon PJ, Espinoza CA, Erickson MA, Bruce-Keller AJ, Gelman BB, Briand LA, Pierce RC, Jordan-Sciutto KL, Grinspan JB.. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, July 2015. 74:1093-1118.

Group I metabotropic glutamate receptor-mediated activation of PKC gamma in the nucleus accumbens core promotes the reinstatement of cocaine seeking
Schmidt HD, Kimmey BA, Arreola AC, Pierce RC. Addiction Biology, March 2015. 20:285-296.

Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens shell attenuates cue-induced reinstatement of both cocaine and sucrose seeking in rats
Guercio LA, Schmidt HD, Pierce RC. Behavioural Brain Research, January 2015. 281:125-30.

Cocaine seeking is associated with PKC-dependent reduction of excitatory signaling in accumbens shell D2 dopamine receptor-expressing neurons
Ortinski PI, Briand LA, Pierce RC, Schmidt HD. Neuropharmacology, January 2015. 92:80-89.

ADAR2-dependent GluA2 editing regulates cocaine seeking
Schmidt HD, KN McFarland, SB Darnell, MN Huizenga, J-HJ Cha, Pierce RC, G Sadri-Vakili . Molecular Psychiatry, January 2015. 20:1460-1466.

Disruption of glutamate receptor interacting protein (GRIP) in nucleus accumbens enhances vulnerability to cocaine relapse
Briand LA, Kimmey BA, Ortinski P, Huganir RL, Pierce RC. Neuropsychopharmacology, February 2014. 39:759-69.

Antiretroviral drugs induce oxidative stress and neuronal damage in the central nervous system
Akay C, Cooper M, Odeleye A, Jensen BK, White MG, Vassoler F, Gannon PJ, Mankowski J, Dorsey JL, Buch AM, Cross SA, Cook DR, Peña MM, Andersen ES, Christofidou-Solomidou M, Lindl KA, Zink MC, Clements J, Pierce RC, Kolson DL, Jordan-Sciutto KL.. Journal of NeuroVirology, February 2014. 20(1):39-53.

Targeted gene mutation of E2F1 evokes age-dependent synaptic disruption and behavioral deficits
Ting JH, Marks DR, Schleidt SS, Wu JN, Zyskind JW, Lindl KA, Blendy JA, Pierce RC, Jordan-Sciutto KL. Journal of Neurochemistry, January 2014. epub ahead of print.

The impact of exposure to addictive drugs on future generations: Physiological and behavioral effects
Vassoler FM, Byrnes E, Pierce RC. Neuropharmacology, January 2014. 76 Pt B:269-75.

Reduced cocaine reinforcement in the male offspring of cocaine-experienced sires
Pierce RC, Vassoler FM.. Neuropharmacology, January 2014. 39(1):238.

The food intake-suppressive effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor signaling in the ventral tegmental area are mediated by AMPA/kainate receptors
Mietlicki-Baase, EG, Ortinski P, Rupprecht LA, Olivos DR, Alhadeff A, Pierce RC, Hayes MR. American Journal of Physiology &madsh; Endocrinology and Metabolism, December 2013. 305(11):E1367-74.

Deep brain stimulation for the treatment of addiction: Basic and clinical studies and potential mechanisms of action
Pierce RC, Vassoler FM. Psychopharmacology, October 2013. 229:487-491.

Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens shell attenuates cocaine reinstatement through local and antidromic activation
Vassoler FM, Samantha SL, Hopkins TJ, Guercio LA, Espallergues J, Berton O, Schmidt HD, Pierce RC. Journal of Neuroscience, September 2013. 33:14446-14454.

Raphe GABAergic neurons mediate the acquisition of avoidance after social defeat
Challis C, Boulden J, Veerakumar A, Espallergues J, Vassoler FM, Pierce RC, Beck SG, Berton O. Journal of Neuroscience, August 2013. 33:13978-13988.

Stimulation of mGluR5 in the accumbens shell promotes cocaine seeking by activating PKC gamma
Schmidt HD, Schassburger RL, Guercio LA, Pierce RC. Journal of Neuroscience, August 2013. 33:14160-14169.