Loftis, Jennifer - Portland VA Research Foundation, PVARF

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Jennifer M. Loftis, Ph.D.
Portland VA Research Foundation Scientist
Research Scientist, Portland VA Medical Center
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)
Dr. Loftis completed a B.A. in psychology and a B.A. in business economics at the University of
California in Santa Barbara, an M.A. in clinical psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in
New Jersey, a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at OHSU, and a postdoctoral fellowship in
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at OHSU. Her translational research program is
focused on investigating the psychoneuroimmunological mechanisms contributing to substance
abuse and neuropsychiatric impairments (e.g., cognitive deficits and mood disorders),
particularly in Veterans with a history of substance abuse and hepatitis C viral infection (HCV).
In 2008 she identified a novel role for cytokines (i.e., chemicals used primarily by the immune
system for cell signaling) in the development of depressive symptoms in patients with chronic
HCV. This finding has lead to the testing of hypotheses regarding how circulating inflammatory
cytokines affect central nervous system functioning. Dr. Loftis has presented her research at
national and international meetings and has authored over 50 publications in the fields of
psychiatry, neuroscience, and immunology. Before she came to the Portland VA Medical
Center, this type of translational research in the field of psychoneuroimmunlogy was not being
conducted.
In addition to her research program, 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 for OHSU’s Partnership for Scientific Inquiry program which introduces high
school students to the process of scientific research. 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 biochemical and molecular mechanisms associated with neuropsychiatric
impairments and inflammation.
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