Welcome to the Kentner ENRICHED Laboratory

[Environmental Neuroprotection from Immune Challenges in Early Development]

What We Do

Our research explores the effects of environmental stressors (e.g. maternal/neonatal infection, psychogenic manipulations, drugs and other neurotoxicants) on the developing brain. We also have a particular interest in evaluating factors that offer neuroprotective and/or rehabilitative potential (e.g. environmental enrichment, maternal care, pharmacological agents) against early-life adversity.

Using rodent models, we assess behavioral performance using a variety of translational behavioral tasks including several sociability metrics, prepulse inhibition, and other indices of emotional reactivity. Neuroendocrine and neurobiological correlates are also evaluated using standard approaches such as ELISA, western blotting, immunochemistry, and qPCR. The lab is currently evolving to include additional methods to evaluate neural circuit adaptations that arise from exposure to enrichment (e.g. environmental complexity, targeted sensory stimulation, maternal care).

Here is a select listing of some of our most recent work:

Kentner, A.C., Bilbo, S.D., Brown, A.S., Hsiao, E.Y., McAllister, A.K., Meyer, U., Pearce, B.D., Pletnikov, M.V., Yolken, R.H., Bauman, M.D. (2018). Maternal immune activation: reporting guidelines to improve the rigor, reproducibility, and transparency of the model. Neuropsychopharmacology, in press https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0185-7

Kentner, A.C., Scalia, S., Shin, J., Migliore, M.M., Rondon-Ortiz, A.N. (2018). Targeted sensory enrichment interventions protect against behavioral and neuroendocrine consequences of early life stress.  
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 74-85,  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.07.029.  

Speno, A.V. Kentner, A.C. (2018). Do gut reactions to antibiotics lead to sex dependent changes in behavior following neonatal immune challenge? Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 73, 165-166,  

Kentner, A.C., Cryan, J.F., Brummelte, S. (2018). Resilience priming: translational models for understanding resiliency and adaptation to early-life adversity. Developmental Psychobiology, in press https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.21775.   

Kentner, A.C., Lima, E., Migliore, M.M., Shin, J., Scalia, S. (2018). Complex environmental rearing enhances social salience and affects hippocampal corticotropin releasing hormone receptor expression in a sex specific manner.  Neuroscience, 369, 399-411; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.11.035.

Yan, S., Kentner, A.C., (2017). Mechanical allodynia corresponds to Oprm1 downregulation within the descending pain network of male and female rats exposed to neonatal immune challenge. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 63, 148-159; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27742580.  

Other publications may be found under our 'Publications' section of this website.                                      

Lab Rats

Those interested in working in the lab (i.e. post-doc, graduate or undergraduate positions) should contact Dr. Kentner by e-mail (amanda.kentner@mcphs.edu) and include a current Curriculum vitae  along with a description of their research interests.  Potential postdocs should also include a statement about their interest in student mentorship. Preferred undergraduates include those who have taken (and done well in!) at least one of Dr. Kentner's courses: BEH341 (Biological Psychology), BEH457 (Drugs & Behavior), or BEH454 (Stress & Illness).

Amanda Kentner

Amanda (Mandy) Kentner is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston Massachusetts. She earned her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Canada, focusing on sex differences in depression and brain stimulation reward. Current research involves the neuroprotective/rehabilitative role of the environment on health and behavior following perinatal inflammation. She also earned a clinical research certification and consults on good clinical practice (GCP) principles and regulations, in addition to study design, in human participant research.  In addition to being a Council Member of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, Dr. Kentner serves on the editorial board of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Her laboratory helped to reactivate the Boston Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, and she served as Secretary for the Chapter. Dr. Kentner has sat on multiple National Science Foundation (NSF) panels and is currently a Social Media Manager for the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.

Arielle Strzelewicz

Arielle Strzelewicz is a Master of Science candidate in the Clinical Research program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in Boston Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Boston University in Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences and graduated cum laude. Current research involves measuring the biological and behavioral outcomes of perinatal inflammation combined with early life stress and enrichment interventions. When she is not in the laboratory she works as a substitute teacher in the Framingham school district, and particularly enjoys working with students who have learning disabilities or behavioral plans. She ultimately hopes to enroll in a Doctor of Clinical Psychology program that utilizes the scientist-practitioner training model to combine her love of science and working with children.

Amanda Speno

My name is Amanda Speno and I am a Pre-medical and Health Science student, with a minor in Health Psychology. I am also in the School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program. I plan on continuing my education in a doctorate program when I graduate. My current interests are in neuroscience, however, my interests in the field of medicine also extend to preventive healthcare and complementary and alternative medicine. 

Ryland Roderick

My name is Ryland Roderick and I am in the Pre-medical and Health Studies (Physician Asst.) major. I became a member of the Kentner Laboratory in Fall 2018. My current interest include neuroscience, etiology, and the influence stressors play on the developing brain.  In the laboratory I am learning about maternal immune activation models and their role to further our mechanistic understanding of maternal infection and neuropathological and behavioral disorders.

Anthony Raneri
Anthony is in the Arts & Sciences Honors Program working in collaboration with the Kentner Laboratory and Dr. Greg Landry (MCPHS School of Pharmacy) to investigate sex differences in behavior using Drosophila as an experimental system. Anthony has also been involved in the development of an animal model of high, medium and low resource security settings. Using this model, he has been investigating mechanisms underlying metabolic disruptions such as obesity and accelerated puberty. Anthony recently presented these data at the 2018 Boston Area Neuroscience Meeting.

Marina Demild

My name is Marina Demild and I am in my second year of the Pharmacology & Toxicology Major. I am currently working in the laboratory as a research assistant, learning several wet-lab techniques. My main project in the laboratory is using an animal model of the neonatal intensive care unit to investigate the beneficial mechanisms that underlie sensory enrichment interventions.   

Dominic Rainone

My name is Dominic Rainone, I am a third-year Pre-Medical and Health Studies major with a minor in Chemistry. In the Kentner Laboratory I am collecting data for a large systematic review on environmental enrichment. Moreover, I conduct research in the synthetic chemistry of organic fluorescent compounds as a part of the School of Arts & Sciences Honors Program. Additionally, I am a clinical research intern at the Loddenkemper Pediatric Epilepsy Research Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital.  My other medical research interests include autoimmune pathologies, neuroimmunology, and organ transplantation. These foundational research experiences will assist me in my aspirations of completing a doctoral program in medicine and eventually becoming a practicing physician.

Jenny Nguyen

My name is Jenny Nguyen and I’m a Doctor of Pharmacy student. I am also a first generation college student. I became a part of the Kentner Laboratory as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF) during my second year and have been a part of the lab since then. Within the past few years, I have participated in research evaluating bisphenol A degradation from laboratory plastic water bottles, the protective mechanisms of environmental enrichment following maternal stress, and social preferences following enrichment. I have learned a lot of different lab techniques such as RNA extraction, qPCR, assays, behavioral testings etc., that I know will be very valuable in the future for my pursuit in Pharmacogenomics.  I was awarded the SURF Research Scholar Award, our bisphenol-A research is published, and I have been able to present our other projects at the Boston Area Neuroscience Group Symposium. Besides working in the Kentner Laboratory, I’m also a pharmacy intern at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a peer tutor for Chemistry, and a manager for the center of campus life at MCPHS University. 

Morgan Sullivan
My name is Morgan Sullivan and I am in the PreMedical & Health Studies Major, and a Health Psychology minor. I specifically want to have a career as a physician assistant in Hematology & Oncology, and further down the line be in the operation room.  While working in the lab, I have had my eyes opened up to on-going research in the neuroscience community, been able to work with colleagues from different academic and professional backgrounds, learned better time management skills, in addition to different lab techniques and analysis procedures. It has been a great learning opportunity, to be able to learn about different areas of science - from being in the classroom, the research lab, and even in the Boston Area Neuroscience Group Symposium where I am able to present my own research.


Eric Connors - BS Health Psychology '14
Clinical PhD Psychology program at Alliant International University, San Diego, CA
My name is Eric Connors and was a first generation college student who graduated from MCPHS in 2014 with a BS in Health Psychology. I was also the first student to conduct research in the Kentner Laboratory. Using an animal model of behavior, we investigated the impact of environmental enrichment on potentially reversing the effects of prenatal stressors, that can hinder neurological development. During my time in the lab, I was able to present my research at international neuroscience conferences and published two peer-reviewed publications. In addition, Dr. Kentner and I obtained the SURF Supervisor of the Year Award and the SURF Scholar of the Year Award, which are accomplishments that I am still proud of today. 

Training in the laboratory fueled my interest in the clinical implications of neurorehabilitation, among individuals who endured an acquired brain injury (ABI). This fascination influenced me to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, with a focus in both health psychology and neuropsychology. Now in my fourth year of graduate training, I am currently interviewing for neuropsychology internship positions and my background in neuroscience has been the topic of conversation during every interview. 

Urma Khan - BS Health Sciences '16

Patient Care Technician - Neurosciences Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston MA

I’m Urma Khan, and I received a Bachelor’s of Science in Premedical and Health Studies with a minor in Health Psychology. When working in the Neurodevelopmental Brain and Behavior Laboratory, I had the opportunity to collaborate with other students and learn about research methods and conduct data processing. The research experience sparked my interest in neurosciences, as a nursing specialty, and inspired me to work towards a preceptorship on a Neurosciences Intermediate Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, as I completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at Northeastern University this past December. I am currently working on a Neurosciences Unit as a Patient Care Technician at BIDMC, and hope to continue as a Registered Nurse after licensure.

Tiffany Macrina - BS Health Psychology '16

Occupational Therapist - VA Hospital, Aberdeen, Washington

My name is Tiffany Macrina. I am currently working as an occupational therapist in Aberdeen Washington, providing both inpatient and outpatient services in addition to providing care to children at some of the surrounding elementary schools. I learned many skills from my experience in the lab that I have carried with me through graduate school. I learned to read research articles, how to observe and evaluate behavior, and how to apply myself to learn outside of the classroom. I learned that the interactions between the environment and other physical, psychological and social factors are important to consider when evaluating a patient's condition, prognosis, and treatment.

Stephanie Scalia - BS Pharmacology and Toxicology '18

Graduate Student, Masters in Pharmacology, University of Vermont

My name is Stephanie Scalia and in the Summer of 2017, I was fortunate enough to work as a Research Fellow under the direction of Dr. Kentner through the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at the University. During my 10 weeks, I learned how a research project is conducted, several behavioral testing procedures, and how extensive research projects are in laboratory settings. Through SURF, I was awarded the Research Scholar Award, which recognizes the excellence of the research scholar during the 10-week program. 

Junyoung Shin - BS Pharmacology and Toxicology '18
Research Technician, Boston MA
My name is Junyoung Shin, in the Kentner Laboratory, have learned several laboratory techniques such behavioral analysis, BCAs and ELISAs. I had an opportunity to attend a Neuroscience conference for a poster presentation, had a paper that I collaborated on published, and I was chosen to be interviewed on my work in the laboratory (based on my 2017 Summer Center for Professional Development Grant Award). 
Mary Tran - BS Pre Med '15
Radiology Technology Assistant, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA

My name is Mary Tran and I volunteered at Dr. Kentner's laboratory during the summer of 2017. I graduated from MCPHS University in 2015 and my major was Premedical and Health Studies. I also was a first generation college student. By working in the laboratory, I learned how research is conducted, how to perform behavioral tests, and how to properly collect and record data. Most importantly, I learned that basic research studies can be used to learn about humans. I am currently working as a radiology tech assistant. 

Karen Nunez - MS Pharmacology '16

Clinical Research Associate at Alliance Research Centers, San Diego CA.

Siyang Yan MS Pharmaceutics '16

Researcher in Pharmacokinetics at Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge MA.

Molly MacRae - BS Premed '16

Clinical Researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center for Leukemia, Boston MA 

Erika Queiroz - MS Pharmacology '16 (supervised by Dr. D. Albers)
Scientific Associate at Novartis (Ophthalmology Department), Cambridge MA
Shelby Pillsbury - PharmD '15
Pharmacist, Pillpack, MA
Megan Small - BS Premed '14
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM)

Contact Information

School of Arts & Sciences
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
179 Longwood Avenue
Boston Massachusetts

email: amanda.kentner@mcphs.edu
179 longwood avenue boston