Kimberly Nixon

Contact Information

473 Bio Pharm Complex
789 South Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40536-0596

Phone: 859-218-1025

Fax: 859-257-7585

Contact by email


  • Associate Professor
    Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences


  • B.A. Psychology
    The University of Texas at Austin, 1992
  • Ph.D. Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience)
    The University of Texas at Austin, 2000
  • Postdoctoral Fellow - Molecular Neuropharmacology
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004

Kimberly Nixon, Ph.D.

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.

Research Interests

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.

Selected Honors/Awards

  • 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), Executive Office of the President of the United States, Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • 2008 Young Investigator Award, Research Society on Alcoholism
  • Enoch Gordis Research Recognition Award (Biomedical Postdoc Category), Research Society on Alcoholism, 2003
  • Cactus Yearbook Outstanding Student, University of Texas, 1998
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Rho Chi

Selected Publications

  • Liput, D.J., Hammell, D.C., Deeny, A., Stinchcomb, A.L. & Nixon, K. (2013). Transdermal delivery of cannabidiol attenuates alcohol-induced neurodegeneration in a rat model of alcohol abuse. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, in press.
  • McClain, J.A., Morris, S.A. & Nixon, K. (2013).  Ectopic hippocampal neurogenesis in adolescent rats following alcohol dependence.  Addiction Biology, in press. 
  • *Marshall, S.A., McClain, J.A., Kelso, M.L., Hopkins, D.M., Pauly, J.R. & Nixon, K. (2013). Microglial activation is not equivalent to neuroinflammation: the importance of microglia phenotype in alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. Neurobiology of Disease, 54, 239-251.
  • Hayes, D.M., Deeny, M.A, Shaner, C. & Nixon, K. (2013). What is the threshold for alcohol-induced brain damage? New evidence with gliosis markers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37:425-34.
  • Kelso, M.L., Liput, D.J., Eaves, D.W. & Nixon K. (2011). Upregulation of vimentin suggests novel areas of neurodegeneration in a rodent model of an alcohol use disorder. Neuroscience, 197. 381-393.
  • McClain, J.A., Hayes, D.M., Morris, S.A. & Nixon, K. (2011).  Adolescent binge alcohol exposure alters hippocampal progenitor cell proliferation in rats: Effects on cell cycle kinetics. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 519, 2697 - 2710.
  • McClain, J.A., Morris, S.A., Deeny, M.A., Marshall, S.A., Hayes, D.M., Kiser, Z.M. & Nixon, K. (2011).  Adolescent binge alcohol exposure induces long-lasting partial activation of microglia. Brain Behavior and Immunity, 25, S120–S128.
  • Morris, S.A., Eaves, D.W., Smith, A.R. & Nixon, K. (2010). Inhibition of adult neurogenesis - a mechanism of hippocampal neurodegeneration in an adolescent alcohol abuse model. Hippocampus 20, 596-607.
  • Nixon, K. & McClain, J.A. (2010). Recent advances in the neurobiology of adolescent alcohol use disorders. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 23, 227-232.
  • Leasure, J.L. & Nixon, K. (2010).  Exercise neuroprotection in a rat model of an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 34, 404-414.
  • Nixon, K., Kim, D.H., Potts, E.N., He, J. & Crews, F.T. (2008). Distinct cell proliferation events during abstinence after alcohol dependence: microglia proliferation precedes neurogenesis. Neurobiology of Disease 31, 218-229.
  • Nixon, K.  (2006).  Alcohol and adult neurogenesis: Roles in neurodegeneration and recovery from chronic alcoholism.  Invited review. Hippocampus 16, 287-295.
  • Nixon, K. & Crews, F.T. (2004).  Temporally specific burst in cell proliferation increases hippocampal neurogenesis in protracted abstinence from alcohol.  The Journal of Neuroscience 24, 9714-9722.
  • Nixon, K. & Crews, F.T. (2002).  Binge alcohol exposure decreases neurogenesis in adult rat hippocampus.  Journal of Neurochemistry 83, 1087-1093.
  • *UK College of Pharmacy July 2013 Monthly Publication Highlight

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page last modified: October 02 2013     

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