Jefferson Kinney

Founding Chair, Department of Brain Health
Expertise: Behavioral neuroscience, Alzheimer's disease, Schizophrenia, Learning and memory systems


Jefferson Kinney is the founding chair of the department of brain health in the School of Integrated Health Sciences. Kinney investigates neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinson's disease, with a focus on cellular and molecular changes in the brain that underlie these disorders. 

His current work includes investigating the role of several risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease and subtle changes in cell function, including interactions between diabetes and inflammation in the brain throughout the onset and progression of the disease. As part of this work, Kinney collaborates with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. 

Earlier in his career, Kinney completed an Intramural Research Training Fellowship with the National Institute of Mental Health and the Helen Dorris Fellowship in schizophrenia research at The Scripps Research Institute.


  • B.S., Psychology, Colorado State University
  • M.S., Experimental Psychology, Colorado State University
  • Ph.D., Behavioral Neuroscience, Colorado State University

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Jefferson Kinney In The News

K.N.P.R. News
Right now, Nevada has the third-fastest rate of growth for Alzheimer’s disease. Between now and 2025, the number of Nevadans with dementia is expected to grow almost 31% from 49,000 to 64,000.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and according to a report released in April by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the mental health issues that adolescents had already been experiencing.
Neurology Live
Since the early 2000s, the advances in biomarker testing have allowed clinicians to detect and diagnose Alzheimer disease (AD) and other related dementias more accurately. Given that no single biomarker test alone has been proven to diagnose the condition, the available biomarkers are often used in conjunction. While biomarkers have become an important part of research and hold critical value in the future of AD drug development, there has been no consensus as to which biomarkers hold the most value.
Neurology Live
Recently, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), announced a newly awarded grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund phase 2 of their first Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), the Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience (CNTN). The grant, totaling $11.3 million, will be used towards developing the resources and processes necessary to achieve a long-term sustainable neuroscience research infrastructure.

Articles Featuring Jefferson Kinney

a teacher and student in a classroom
Campus News | March 7, 2022

A collection of news stories highlighting the experts and events at UNLV.

people doing research
Research | December 27, 2021

UNLV researchers made international headlines this year with their discoveries. Here's a roundup of some of our top stories of 2021.