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Jessica Barson

Jessica Barson, PhD

Assistant Professor


Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy

Education

  • PhD - Princeton University (2009)
  • Postdoctoral Training - The Rockefeller University

Jessica Barson, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research Overview

Visit the Barson lab.

Lab Personnel:
Genevieve Curtis, Doctoral Student
Breanne Pirino, Graduate Student
Zachary Merkel, Master’s Student
Kathleen Oakes, Medical Scholar

Research Interests

Neural basis of addiction (alcohol use disorder, binge eating disorder), paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus, nucleus accumbens, neuropeptides

Research

Image of Jessica Barson's research into the neurobiology of addicition

Our laboratory employs cutting-edge techniques and a multidisciplinary approach to determine the neural basis of addiction, focusing on how neuropeptides in the limbic system affect disorders such as alcohol use disorder and binge eating disorder. Additionally, we investigate individual differences in addiction, to determine both why some individuals are more likely to develop dependence and how these prone individuals may differ even from each other. To answer these questions, we investigate neuropeptides and how they act and interact in specific regions of the limbic system, the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus and the nucleus accumbens. Our goal is to discover innovative drug therapies to treat addictive behavior.

We use a wide variety of techniques in the lab:

  • Chemogenetics (DREADDs), viral manipulation of gene expression
  • Quantitative real-time PCR, in situ hybridization
  • ELISA, Western blot, immunohistochemistry
  • Tract tracing
  • Microinjection in awake, behaving animals
  • Operant substance self-administration and home cage intake
  • Activity chamber locomotor behavior, open field locomotor behavior, hole board exploration, place preference, elevated plus maze anxiety, light-dark box anxiety, forced swim test

Active Funding

R00AA021782 - Paraventricular thalamic nucleus: Role of orexin and opioids in ethanol intake. The goal of this grant is to examine the thalamic paraventricular nucleus for its role in the overconsumption of alcohol, with a focus on the role of neuropeptides.

In the Media

Publications

Selected Publications

"Short- and long-access palatable food self-administration results in different phenotypes of binge-type eating"
Curtis GR, Coudriet JM, Sanzalone L, Mack NR, Stein LM, Hayes MR, Barson JR
Physiol Behav; 212:112700 (2019)

"Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Polypeptide-27 (PACAP-27) in the Thalamic Paraventricular Nucleus Is Stimulated by Ethanol Drinking"
Gupta A, Gargiulo AT, Curtis GR, Badve PS, Pandey S, Barson JR
Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 42(9):1650-60, 2018

"Orexin/hypocretin and dysregulated eating: Promotion of foraging behavior"
Barson JR
Brain Res [Epub ahead of print] (2018)

"Orexin/Hypocretin System: Role in Food and Drug Overconsumption"
Barson JR, Leibowitz SF
Int Rev Neurobiol, 136:199-237 (2017)

"Hypocretin receptor 1 knockdown in the ventral tegmental area attenuates mesolimbic dopamine signaling and reduces motivation for cocaine"
Bernstein DL, Badve PS, Barson JR, Bass CE, España RA
Addict Biol. [Epub ahead of print], 2017

"Neurotensin in the posterior thalamic paraventricular nucleus: inhibitor of pharmacologically relevant ethanol drinking"
Pandey S, Badve PS, Curtis GR, Leibowitz SF & Barson JR
Addict Biol. [Epub ahead of print], 2017

"Substance P in anterior thalamic paraventricular nucleus: Promotion of ethanol drinking in response to orexin from the hypothalamus"
Barson JR, Poon K, Ho HT, Sanzalone L & Leibowitz SF
Addict Biol, 22(1): 58-69, 2017

"Involvement of the CXCL12 System in the Stimulatory Effects of Prenatal Exposure to High-Fat Diet on Hypothalamic Orexigenic Peptides and Behavior in Offspring"
Poon K, Barson JR, Shi H, Chang GQ & Leibowitz SF
Front Behav Neurosci, 11:91, 2016

"Role of hypothalamic neuropeptide signaling in alcohol addiction"
Barson JR & Leibowitz SF
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, Epub ahead of print, 2015

"Anterior thalamic paraventricular nucleus is involved in intermittent access ethanol drinking: Role of orexin receptor 2"
Barson JR, Ho HT & Leibowitz SF
Addict Biol, 20(3), 469-81, 2015

"Hypothalamic peptides controlling alcohol intake: Differential effects on microstructure of drinking bouts"
Chen Y-W, Barson JR, Chen A, Hoebel BG & Leibowitz SF
Alcohol, 48(7), 657-664, 2014

"Galanin and ingestive behavior"
Barson JR, Morganstern I & Leibowitz SF
In Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides, 2nd Ed, SC Woods & AJ Kastin (eds), San Diego: Elsevier, Chapter 147, 2013

"Opioids in the perifornical lateral hypothalamus suppress ethanol drinking"
Chen Y-W, Barson JR, Chen A, Hoebel BG & Leibowitz SF
Alcohol
, 47(1), 31-38, 2013

"Complementary roles of orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone in feeding behavior"
Barson JR, Morganstern I & Leibowitz SF
Int J Endocrinol, 2013(983964), 1-10, 2013

"Glutamatergic input to the lateral hypothalamus stimulates ethanol intake: Role of orexin and melanin-concentrating hormone"
Chen Y-W, Barson JR, Chen A, Hoebel BG & Leibowitz SF
Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 37(1), 123-131, 2013

"Neurochemical heterogeneity of rats predicted by different measures to be high ethanol consumers"
Barson JR, Fagan SE, Chang G-Q & Leibowitz SF
Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 37(S1), E141-151, 2013

"Developmental changes in embryonic hypothalamic neurons during prenatal fat exposure"
Poon K, Barson JR, Fagan SE & Leibowitz SF
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 303(3), E432-441, 2012

"Effect of dietary fatty acid composition on food intake, triglycerides, and hypothalamic peptides"
Barson JR, Karatayev O, Gaysinskaya O, Chang G-Q & Leibowitz SF
Regul Pept, 173(1-3), 13-20, 2012

"Neurobiology of consummatory behavior: Mechanisms underlying overeating and drug use"
Barson JR, Morganstern I & Leibowitz SF
ILAR J, 53(1), 35-58, 2012

"Galanin and the orexin 2 receptor as possible regulators of enkephalin in the PVN: Relation to dietary fat"
Barson JR, Chang G-Q, Poon K, Morganstern I & Leibowitz SF
Neuroscience, 193, 10-20, 2011

"Similarities in hypothalamic and mesocorticolimbic circuits regulating the overconsumption of food and alcohol"
Barson JR, Morganstern I & Leibowitz SF
Physiol Behav, 104(1), 128-137, 2011

"Effect of chronic ethanol in the hypothalamus and extra-hypothalamic areas"
Chang G-Q, Barson JR, Karatayev O, Chang S-Y, Chen Y-W & Leibowitz SF
Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 34(5), 761-770, 2010

"Opioids in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus stimulate ethanol intake"
Barson JR, Carr AJ, Soun JE, Sobhani NC, Leibowitz SF & Hoebel BG
Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 34(2), 214-222, 2010

"Galanin and consummatory behavior: Special relationship with dietary fat, alcohol and circulating lipids"
Barson JR, Morganstern I & Leibowitz SF
In Galanin, T. Hökfelt (ed), Basel: Springer, Experientia Supplementum Vol 102, 87-111, 2010

"Opioids in the hypothalamus control dopamine and acetylcholine levels in the nucleus accumbens"
Rada PV, Barson JR, Leibowitz SF & Hoebel BG
Brain Res, 1312, 1-9, 2009

"Hypothalamic injection of non-opioid peptides increases gene expression of the opioid enkephalin in hypothalamic and mesolimbic nuclei: Possible mechanism underlying their behavioral effects"
Karatayev O, Barson JR, Chang G-Q & Leibowitz SF
Peptides, 30(12), 2423-2431, 2009

"Opioids in the nucleus accumbens stimulate ethanol intake"
Barson JR, Carr AJ, Soun JE, Sobhani NC, Leibowitz SF & Hoebel BG. Physiol Behav, 98(4), 453-459, 2009

"Positive relationship between dietary fat, ethanol intake, triglycerides, and hypothalamic peptides: Counteraction by lipid-lowering drugs"
Barson JR, Karatayev O, Chang G-Q, Johnson DF, Bocarsly ME, Hoebel BG & Leibowitz SF
Alcohol, 42(6), 433-441, 2009


Contact Information


Research Office

Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy
2900 W. Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215.991.8401
Fax: 215.843.9082