Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D.

Photo of Cynthia Kuhn

Phone: 919-684-8828

Box 3813 DUMC
Room 100B Research Park 2

Email: ckuhn AT duke DOT edu


Pharmacology & Cancer Biology, School of Medicine

DIBS Faculty, Member, DIBS Executive Board, D-CIDES Member

Research Description

The primary interest of this laboratory is to understand the interaction of hormonal and neural mechanisms that increase sensitivity to drug abuse and depression in adolescents and females. One current focus is studying the influence of gonadal steroids estrogen and testosterone on dopamine mechanisms that contribute to self-administration of and behavioral responses to addictive drugs like cocaine and ethanol. The second is understanding what neural processes underlie addiction risk during adolescence and the modulation of these processes puberty. We are using a multidisciplinary approach to these problems which includes studying the behavioral response of rats to addictive drugs, the effects of gonadal steroids and other hormones on dopamine neuron survival and function and the activation of neural circuits by rewarding and aversive stimuli. We are also using in vitro model systems to study estrogen and testosterone action on monoamine neurons in the brain.


Ph.D., Duke University, 1976

B.A., Stanford University, 1970

Recent Publications

Stanton SJ, Mullette-Gillman OA, McLaurin RE, Kuhn CM, LaBar KS, Platt ML, Huettel SA. Low- and high-testosterone individuals exhibit decreased aversion to economic risk. Psychol Sci. 2011 Apr;22(4):447-53.

Schramm-Sapyta NL, Cauley MC, Stangl DK, Glowacz S, Stepp KA, Levin ED, Kuhn CM. Role of individual and developmental differences in voluntary cocaine intake in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Jun;215(3):493-504.

Schramm-Sapyta NL, DiFeliceantonio AG, Foscue E, Glowacz S, Haseeb N, Wang N, Zhou C, Kuhn CM. Aversive effects of ethanol in adolescent versus adult rats: potential causes and implication for future drinking. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Dec;34(12):2061-2069.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Animal models of drug addiction
  • Ontogeny of neural circuit activation by rewarding and aversive stimuli
  • Gonadal steroid hormone action in brain