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Paul Kenny

  • PROFESSOR & CHAIR Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics
  • DIRECTOR Experimental Therapeutics Institute
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  • BA, Trinity College Dublin

  • PhD, University of London



  • 2015 -
    Tom Connor Distinguished Investigator Award
    Neuroscience Ireland

  • 2012 -
    Mathilde Solowey Lecture Award in the Neurosciences
    Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences

  • 2010 -
    Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award
    Society for Neuroscience


The Kenny Laboratory is focused on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of drug addiction, obesity and schizophrenia, with an emphasis on the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in these processes. They employ a multidisciplinary approach that includes complex behavioral paradigms, physiological analyses and molecular biological techniques. Current projects include the utilization of vector-based delivery systems to modify gene expression in the brains of rodents to identify novel signaling cascades that may play a role in addiction-like behaviors. Search PubMed for articles


Chen Z, Kenny PJ. Running on Empty: Leptin Signaling in VTA Regulates Reward from Physical Activity. Cell metabolism 2015 Oct; 22(4).

Heyer MP, Kenny PJ. Corticostriatal microRNAs in addiction. Brain research 2015 Dec; 1628(Pt A).

Wang J, Kuryatov A, Sriram A, Jin Z, Kamenecka TM, Kenny PJ, Lindstrom J. An Accessory Agonist Binding Site Promotes Activation of α4β2* Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors. The Journal of biological chemistry 2015 May; 290(22).

Damez-Werno DM, Kenny PJ. Using opioid receptors to expand the chemogenetic and optogenetic toolbox. Neuron 2015 May; 86(4).

O'Connor RM, Kenny PJ. Neuroscience: Binge drinking and brain stress systems. Nature 2015 Apr; 520(7546).

Heyer MP, Kenny PJ. MicroRNA-mediated repression combats depression. Neuron 2014 Jul; 83(2).

Kenny PJ. The food addiction. Scientific American 2013 Sep; 309(3).

Kenny PJ, Voren G, Johnson PM. Dopamine D2 receptors and striatopallidal transmission in addiction and obesity. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2013 Aug; 23(4).

Bali P, Kenny PJ. MicroRNAs and Drug Addiction. Frontiers in Genetics 2013 May; 4(43).

Hope BT, Skinner MK, Kenny PJ, Akbarian S. Exploring the epigenetics of cocaine resistance. Nature Medicine 2013 Feb; 19(2).

Heyer MP, Pani AK, Smeyne RJ, Kenny PJ, Feng G. Normal midbrain dopaminergic neuron development and function in miR-133b mutant mice. Journal of Neuroscience 2012 Aug; 32(32).

Jiang R, Song X, Bali P, Smith A, Bayona CR, Lin L, Cameron MD, McDonald PH, Kenny PJ, Kamenecka TM. Disubstituted piperidines as potent orexin (hypocretin) receptor antagonists. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2012 Jun; 22(12).

Im HI, Kenny PJ. MicroRNAs in neuronal function and dysfunction. Trends in Neurosciences 2012 May; 35(5).

Bali P, Im HI, Kenny PJ. Methylation, memory and addiction. Epigenetics 2011 Jun; 6(6).

Fowler CD, Lu Q, Johnson PM, Marks MJ, Kenny PJ. Habenular α5 nicotinic receptor subunit signalling controls nicotine intake. Nature 2011 Mar; 471(7340).

Kenny PJ. Reward mechanisms in obesity: new insights and future directions. Neuron 2011 Feb; 69(4).

Im HI, Hollander JA, Bali P, Kenny PJ. MeCP2 controls BDNF expression and cocaine intake through homeostatic interactions with microRNA-212. Nature Neuroscience 2010 Sep; 13(9).

Hollander JA, Im HI, Amelio AL, Kocerha J, Bali P, Lu Q, Willoughby D, Wahlestedt C, Conkright MD, Kenny PJ. Striatal microRNA controls cocaine intake through CREB signalling. Nature 2010 Jul; 466(7303).

Johnson PM, Kenny PJ. Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats. Nature Neuroscience 2010 May; 13(5).

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Below are financial relationships with industry reported by Dr. Kenny during 2015 and/or 2016. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Equity (Stock or stock options valued at greater than 5% ownership of a publicly traded company or equity of any value in a privately held company)

  • Eolas Therapeutics, Inc.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website. Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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