Jennifer Loftis

Ph.D. Graduate (2002) 


Undergraduate degrees

M.A. Psychology (1994); Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ 

B.A. Psychology (1990); University of California at Santa Barbara

B.A. Business Economics (1990); University of California at Santa Barbara

Training at OHSU

1997- 2002

Ph.D. Behavioral Neuroscience


Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Mentors: Dr. David Hinrichs and Dr. S. Paul Berger

Second Year Project

(1999) Cocaine Administration Alters the Expression of NMDA Receptor Subunits and Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase with Regional and Withdrawal-Time Specificity. Mentors: Aaron Janowsky, Ph.D. and Andrey Ryabinin, Ph.D.


(2002) The Effects of Cocaine Treatment and Withdrawal on NMDA Receptor Subunits and Associated Neuronal Proteins. Mentor: Aaron Janowsky, Ph.D.

Current position

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, OHSU
Research Scientist, Portland VA Medical Center

Current email address or

Lab Website

Background & Interests

My interest in brain-behavior relationships began as an undergraduate psychology student at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Fridlund. Research in his laboratory was broadly concerned with exploring traditional beliefs regarding affect (human emotions). I then continued to pursue my interest in psychology and neurobiology as a clinical psychology graduate student in the Psychology Department at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). I spent two years working in the experimental psychology laboratory of Dr. Christopher Capuano using pharmacological and behavioral techniques. The general focus of investigation in his laboratory involved studying the ontogeny of the serotonergic system in regulating ingestive behaviors in rats. In addition to experience in the laboratory, I also received clinical training while at FDU. During this combination of intensive clinical and research training, I developed an understanding for the importance of translational research programs in psychiatry and psychology, spanning the bridge from basic science to clinical application.

Wanting to learn more about the neurobiological and pathophysiological mechanisms associated with mental health and substance use disorders, I attended the graduate program in Behavioral Neuroscience and subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at OHSU. Broadly defined, my research is focused on investigating the neuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to substance abuse, cognitive impairment and depression. My translational research program uses rodents and humans to characterize the inflammatory pathways contributing to cognitive dysfunction and depressogenesis, particularly in patients with a history of substance abuse and hepatitis C. It is hypothesized that circulating inflammatory cytokines act on central nervous system (CNS) cytokine receptors, which in turn stimulate the production of inflammatory mediators (e.g., other proinflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide) in specific brain regions thus contributing to cognitive impairments and alterations in mood. The specific areas of interest are:
  • Investigating the relationship among cytokine-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms and associated changes in neurotransmitter systems, stress hormones, and other cytokines.
  • The use of antidepressant and other novel pharmacotherapies for the treatment or prevention of cytokine-induced psychiatric symptoms and sickness behavior (in animal models).
  • Identifying genetic and neuroimmune biomarkers associated with cytokine-induced depression and cognitive impairment, focusing on the role of p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP)kinase.
  • Characterizing the mechanisms leading to methamphetamine-induced psychiatric and cognitive impairment and to develop interventions that could prevent or ameliorate methamphetamine-induced impairments and improve recovery outcomes.

Publication List 


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-1b and tumor necrosis factor-a. Neuroscience Letters 430 (3):264-8.

Huckans, M., Mitchell, A., Ruimy, S., Loftis, J., Hauser, P. (2008) Antiviral Therapy Completion and Response Rates Among Hepatitis C Patients With and Without Schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull.

Huckans, M.S., Loftis, J.M., Blackwell, A.D., Hauser, P. (2007) Interferon-based therapy for hepatitis C: Treatment response and completion rates among patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and substance use disorder. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy 12:2-4.

Morasco, B.J., Rifai, M.A., Loftis, J.M., Indest, D.W., Moles, J.K., Hauser, P. (2007) A randomized trial of paroxetine to prevent interferon-alpha-induced depression in patients with hepatitis C. J Affect Disord. 103(1-3):83-90.

Loftis, J.M., Macey, T.A., Lowe, J.D., Hauser, P. (2006) Can rodents be used to model interferon-a -induced depressive symptoms? Progress in NeuroPsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 7:1364-5.

Loftis, J.M., Wall, J.M., Pagel, R.L., Hauser, P. (2006) Administration of pegylated interferon-a does not induce sickness behavior in Lewis rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology 31:1289-1294.

Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2005) Letter to the editor re: the effect of a herbal medicine (Mao-to) for the prevention of interferon-induced psychiatric complication in chronic hepatitis C. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 20(3):211-2.

Loftis, J.M., Rifai, M.A., Hauser, P. (2005) The association between viral clearance and depression in patients with hepatitis C receiving interferon-alpha and ribavirin. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 19(4):271-2.

Mansour, H.A., Talkowski, M.E., Wood, J., Bamne, M., Chowdari, K.V., Allen, M., Bowden, C.L., Calabrese, J., El-Mallakh, R.S., Fagiolini, A., Fossey, M.D., Friedman, E., Gyulai, L., Hauser, P., Loftis, J.M., Marangell, L., Miklowitz, D., Nierenberg, A.A., Patel, J., Sachs, G., Smoller, J., Thase, M., Frank, E., Kupfer, D.J., Nimgaonkar, V.L. (2005) Serotonin gene polymorphisms and bipolar I disorder: Focus on the serotonin transporter. Annals of Medicine 37(8):590-602.

Loftis, J.M., Socherman, R.E., Howell, C.D., Whitehead, A.J., Hill, J., Dominitz, J.A., Hauser, P. (2004) Association of interferon-a-induced depression and improved end-of-treatment response in patients with hepatitis C. Neuroscience Letters 365(2):87-91.

Loftis, J.M., Wall, J.M., Linardatos, E., Benvenga, S., Hauser, P. (2004) A quantitative assessment of depression and thyroid dysfunction secondary to antiviral therapy in patients with hepatitis C. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 27(7):RC16-20.

Loftis, J.M. and Janowsky, A. (2002) Cocaine-withdrawal induced alterations in the expression and serine phosphorylation of the NR1 NMDA receptor subunit. Psychopharmacology 164:349-359.

Mason, J.N., Eshleman, A.J., Belknap, J.K., Crabbe, J.C., Loftis, J.M., Macey, T.A., Janowsky, A. (2001) NMDA receptor subunit mRNA and protein expression in ethanol-withdrawal seizure-prone and –resistant mice. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 25, 651-660.

Loftis, J.M. and Janowsky, A. (2000) Regulation of NMDA receptor subunits and neuronal nitric oxide synthase expression during cocaine withdrawal. J. Neurochemistry 75:2040-2050.

Fridlund, A.J. and Loftis, J.M. (1990) Relationship between tickling and humorous laughter. Biological Psychology 30:141-150.


Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2008) Prevalence of Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorder Co-morbidities in Patients with Hepatitis C. Directions in Psychiatry (invited review—accepted).

Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2008) Risk and protective factors in interferon-induced depression: treatment strategies and clinical outcomes. Directions in Psychiatry (invited review—accepted).

Rifai, M.A., Indest, D.,Loftis, J.M., Hauser (2006) Psychiatric management of the hepatitis C patient. Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology 9:508-519.

Loftis, J.M., Matthews, A.M., Hauser, P. (2006) Psychiatric and substance use disorders in individuals with hepatitis C: Epidemiology and management. Drugs 66(2):155-74.

Rifai, M.A.,Loftis, J.M., Hauser, P. (2006) Hepatitis C treatment of veterans with psychiatric illness. American J. Gastroenterology 101(3):673-4.

Rifai, M.A., Loftis, J.M., Hauser, P. (2005) Interferon-a treatment of patients with hepatitis C: The role of a comprehensive risk-benefit assessment. CNS Drugs 19(8):719-21.

Turner, E.H., Loftis, J.M., Blackwell, A.D. (2005) Serotonin a la carte: Supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 109(3):325-38.

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

Sylvestre, D., Loftis, J.M., Hauser, P., Genser, S., Cesari, H., Borek, N., Kresina, T., Seeff, L., Francis, H. (2004) Co-occurring hepatitis C, substance abuse and psychiatric illness: Treatment issues and developing integrated models of care. Journal of Urban Health 81(4):719-734.

Hauser, P., Loftis, J.M., Dieperink, E., Garcia-Tsao, G., Rigsby, M., Willenbring, M., and the Veterans Health Administration Hepatitis C ResourceCenter Program. (2004) Depression and Substance Use Disorders in Chronic Hepatitis C: Implications of new guidelines and experience in the VA health care system. Federal Practitioner 21(7):90-102.

Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2003) Co-management of Depression and HCV Treatment. Psychiatric Annals 33(6):385-391.

Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2003) Hepatitis C in Patients with Psychiatric Disease and Substance Abuse: Screening strategies and co-management models of care.Current Hepatitis Reports 2(3):93-100.

Loftis, J.M. and Hauser, P. (2003) Safety Considerations for the Treatment of Interferon-Induced Depression. Psychosomatics 44(6):524-6.

Loftis, J.M. and Janowsky, A. (2003) Review of the NMDA receptor, NR2B: localization, functional properties, regulation and clinical implications. Pharmacology & Therapeutics 97(1):55-85.