Dr. Kimberly Nixon
Dr. Kimberly Nixon

Associate Professor

Dr. Nixon received her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin under the mentorship of Dr. Steven W. Leslie, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and National Academies of Science member, Dr. Abram Amsel. Dr. Nixon then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Fulton T. Crews, Director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC, she was the first to discover the effect of alcohol on neurogenesis in adult organisms. The Nixon lab is interested in the role of neural stem cells in alcoholic neuropathology. The seminal discovery that neural stem cells produce newborn neurons in the adult brain (a.k.a. adult neurogenesis) has changed the way we think about CNS pathologies and associated dysfunctions. Understanding the factors that regulate adult neurogenesis and their contribution to brain and behavioral processes provides a new framework for understanding neurodegenerative and regenerative effects that occur during active alcohol dependence and abstinence respectively. The Nixon Lab uses cutting edge neuroanatomical, biochemical and behavioral techniques to identify the mechanism by which alcohol not only inhibits neural stem cell proliferation and adult neurogenesis but also how it promotes neurogenesis in recovery and abstinence from alcoholism. Our currently funded projects are generally based around mechanisms of neurodegeneration and regeneration in models of alcoholism. Our primary work investigates whether alcohol targets progenitor cells during alcohol intoxication and conversely the mechanism by which alcohol induces the recruitment of progenitors following alcohol-induced brain damage. A major goal is to identify and understand the various signaling pathways involved in the recruitment of progenitors following binge-induced brain damage and how that endogenous pathway may be harnessed for pharmacological treatment of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. New projects are extending these findings into models of adolescent drinking and investigating novel neuroprotectants.

Recent Publications

  • Van Skike Candice E, Maggio Sarah E, Reynolds Anna R, Casey Erin M, Bardo Michael, Dwoskin Linda P., Prendergast Mark, Nixon Kimberly. (2016). Critical Needs in Drug Discovery for Cessation of Alcohol and Nicotine Polysubstance Abuse. Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 65, 269-287. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584615300580
  • McClain Justin A, Nixon Kimberly. (2016). Ethanol induces parallel changes in hippocampal histone H3 phosphorylation and c-fos protein expression in male rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40, 102-112. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.12933/full
  • Hammer A M, Morris N L, Cannon A R, Shults J A, Curtis B, Casey C A, Sueblinvong V, Persidsky Y, Nixon Kimberly, Brown L A, Waldschmidt T, Mandrekar P, Kovacs E J, Choudhry M A. (2015). Summary of the 2014 Alcohol and Immunology Research Interest Group (AIRIG) meeting. Alcohol, 49(8), 767-772. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0741832915300720
  • Geil C R, Hayes Dayna Michelle, McClain J A, Liput D J, Marshall S A, Chen K Y, Nixon Kimberly. (2014). Alcohol and adult hippocampal neurogenesis: promiscuous drug, wanton effects. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry, 54, 103-13.
  • Collins M A, Tajuddin N, Moon K H, Kim H Y, Nixon Kimberly, Neafsey E J. (2014). Alcohol, phospholipase A2-associated neuroinflammation, and ω3 docosahexaenoic acid protection. Molecular neurobiology, 50(1), 239-45.
  • McClain J A, Morris S A, Marshall S A, Nixon Kimberly. (2014). Ectopic hippocampal neurogenesis in adolescent male rats following alcohol dependence. Addiction biology, 19(4), 687-99.
  • Liput D J, Hammell D C, Stinchcomb Audra L., Nixon Kimberly. (2013). Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates binge alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in a rodent model of an alcohol use disorder. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 111, 120-7. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305713002104
  • Marshall S A, McClain J A, Kelso M L, Hopkins D M, Pauly James R., Nixon Kimberly. (2013). Microglial activation is not equivalent to neuroinflammation in alcohol-induced neurodegeneration: The importance of microglia phenotype. Neurobiology of Disease, 54, 239-51. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969996113000077
  • Hayes Dayna Michelle, Deeny M A, Shaner C A, Nixon Kimberly. (2013). Determining the threshold for alcohol-induced brain damage: new evidence with gliosis markers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(3), 425-34. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01955.x/abstract
  • Hayes Dayna Michelle, Pauly James R., Nixon Kimberly. (2012). Alcohol, nicotine, and adult neurogenesis. Research Signpost Publisher, 95-110. http://www.ressign.com/UserBookDetail.aspx?bkid=1223&catid=247