Research Scientist and Professor of Psychiatry
VA Portland Health Care System and Oregon Health & Science University
Jennifer M. Loftis, Ph.D. is a Research Scientist at the VA Portland Health Care System and a Professor of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). As a VA career development award recipient she identified a novel role for cytokines in the etiology of depressive symptoms in adults with hepatitis C viral infection. This finding has guided the subsequent testing of hypotheses regarding how inflammatory cytokines affect central nervous system functioning. Her translational research program studies the psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to mood disorders, cognitive impairments, and addiction and tests immunotherapeutic strategies to treat these conditions. This work includes: investigating the impact of viral infection (hepatitis C, SARS-CoV-2) and alcohol use on immune response and neural circuits; testing hypotheses regarding the effects of inflammatory factors on central nervous system and psychiatric function; and evaluating interventions to improve substance use disorder recovery outcomes. To support these research efforts, Dr. Loftis has received grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and local foundations. She has authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications in the fields of psychiatry, neuroscience and immunology. In addition to her research efforts, Dr. Loftis has a long-standing interest in mentorship, teaching, and the development of new scientists. She has served as a mentor for the National Science Foundation’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program and is currently a mentor in the VA Mentorship program, OHSU’s Partnership for Scientific Inquiry, and Saturday Academy’s Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering program. Her goal as a scientist is to maintain a productive research program in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, one that allows for the pursuit of research, teaching, and community service and one that contributes to our understanding of the pathological mechanisms associated with neuropsychiatric impairments and inflammation in order to improve mental health and quality of life.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
2:10 PM – 3:25 PM ET