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Jacqueline Barker

Jacqueline Barker, PhD

Associate Professor

Department: Pharmacology & Physiology


  • PhD in Neuroscience - Yale University (2013)
  • BA in Psychology - Ohio Wesleyan University (2008)

Awards & Honors

  • Early Career Mentoring Award for Basic Science Faculty, Drexel University College of Medicine (2023)
  • Best Advisor/Mentor Award and Best Student Advocate Award, Biomedical Science Programs, Drexel University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies (2022)
  • Provost Award for Early Career Outstanding Scholarly Productivity, Drexel University (2022)
  • Mary DeWitt Pettit, MD Fellowship, WMC-MCP Trust Committee, Drexel University College of Medicine (2020)
  • NIAAA Young Investigator Award, Alcoholism and Stress: A Framework for Future Treatment Strategies (2020)
  • Ann Kelley Memorial Fellowship, Winter Conference on Brain Research (2017)
  • Young Investigator Travel Award, Research Society on Alcoholism (2016)

Postgraduate Training / Additional Certifications

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship - Medical University of South Carolina

Jacqueline Barker, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research Overview

Dr. Barker’s primary research interest is in dissecting the neural circuits that contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric illnesses characterized by inflexible behavior. Her lab combines traditional and cutting-edge techniques to investigate how these circuits function in an intact system to mediate behavioral flexibility, and how deficits in control over actions may result from insults such as drug and alcohol exposure.

Visit the Barker Laboratory.

Research Interests

Addiction, learning and memory, behavioral neuroscience, habits, compulsivity, sex differences, drug and alcohol exposure, substance and alcohol use disorders


The focus of the Barker Lab is the investigation of the neurobiological bases of behavioral flexibility and cognitive control, and the mechanisms by which these processes are dysregulated in neuropsychiatric illnesses. The ability to flexibly regulate behavior is critical to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Impairments in flexible actions have been observed in a number of illnesses, including obsessive compulsive disorder, addiction, PTSD and depression. A greater understanding of the neurobiological substrates mediating flexible behaviors is expected to provide insight into potential treatable targets for these illnesses.

We use a combination of in vivo electrophysiology, pharmacology, opto- and chemogenetics to determine the contribution of distinct neural circuits to the regulation of response strategy selection. In addition to investigating how these circuits function in normal learning and memory processes, we are interested in how exposure to drugs and alcohol may act on these circuits to disrupt the ability to regulate behavior, which may promote the maintenance of addictive or maladaptive behavior. Further, we are interested in how these acquired deficits in cognitive control may interact with innate differences – such as hormonal or genetic sex, or other genetic factors – to impact cognitive control over behavior.


“Arbitration of approach-avoidance conflict by ventral hippocampus”
Bryant KG & Barker JM
Frontiers in Neuroscience. 14: 615337 (2020)

“Brain region-dependent alterations in polysialic acid immunoreactivity across the estrous cycle”
Giacometti LL, Huang F, Hamilton B & Barker JM
Hormones and Behavior. 126: 104851 (2020)

“Astrocyte modulation reverses ethanol dependence-induced impairments in extinction learning in female mice”
Giacometti LL, Chandran K, Figueroa L & Barker JM
Neuropharmacology. 179: 108272 (2020)

“Selective deficits in contingency-driven ethanol seeking following chronic ethanol exposure in male mice”
Barker JM, Bryant KG, Montiel-Ramos A, Goldwasser B & Chandler LJ
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 44(9): 1896-1905 (2020)

“Sex differences the glutamate system: implications for addiction”
Giacometti LL & Barker JM
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 113. 157-168 (2020)

“Comorbid HIV infection and alcohol use disorders: converging mechanisms underlying neurocognitive dysfunction”
Giacometti LL & Barker JM
Brain Research. 1723. Special issue on: Neurocognitive Impairment in People Living with HIV (2019)

"Sex differences in ethanol reward seeking under conflict in mice"
Xie, Q, Buck, LA, Bryant, KG & Barker, JM
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 43(7): 1556-1566 (2019)

“Inactivation of ventral hippocampus projections prevents the expression of contingency insensitive reward seeking”
Barker JM, Bryant KG & Chandler LJ
Learning and Memory. 26(1): 1-8 (2019)

“Sex differences in incentive motivation and the relationship to the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorders”
Barker, JM & Taylor, JR
Physiology and Behavior. 203:91-99 (2019)

“Habitual behavior is mediated by a shift in response-outcome encoding in infralimbic cortex”
Barker, JM, Glen, WB, Linsenbardt, DN, Lapish, CC & Chandler, LJ
eNeuro. 4(6) (2018)

Contact Information

Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
245 N. 15th Street
Mail Stop 488
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Room: 8808
Phone: 215.762.8794
Fax: 215.762.2299