Known for her research on energy balance regulation and opioid use, Professor Shane Hentges is the new chair of the Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Dr. Hentges has a strong, highly aligned, neuroscience research program and, as an alumnus, is passionate about WSU and its programs. She has a record of strong service and is a highly regarded mentor. We look forward to her vision and leadership at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine,” said Dr. Dori Borjesson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Hentges takes over for Professor Steve Simasko, who has chaired the program since 2008. Hentges received her doctorate in neuroscience and bachelor’s degree in genetics and cell biology from WSU.
“I understand the attitudes here, and the mission of WSU,” Hentges said. “I love this department; I like that it has a certain amount of focus and breadth, which is a hard balance to find, and I like that people can work from molecules to circuits to whole organs and behaviors.”
Hentges has been a professor for the past 14 years at Colorado State University. Her research deals with the brain’s regulation of energy balance, and substance use disorders involving opioids. It is all tied together through the relationship of reward and motivation.
“I know these seem like really different topics, energy balance and opioids, but ultimately, our work centers around a set of neurons in the brain that release peptides, including an opioid, and regulate energy balance” Hentges said.
Her work also includes looking for new approaches to treat opioid use disorders.
“Diseases that have a behavior component are some of the most damaging, costly, and least understood health issues in modern society. And these problems impact not only the patient but, oftentimes, have an equally large impact on the patient’s surrounding support network of family and friends,” Hentges said.
Hentges’ collaborative research projects have been awarded nearly $8 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health. Hentges said she plans to promote the program’s mission, grow the faculty, strengthen funding and publication numbers, and continue to foster an environment where Cougs thrive.
“I know why students come here and what they like about it,” Hentges said. “I want to preserve that.”