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Steven G. Kinsey, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Steven G. Kinsey, Ph.D.

Professor, Director, Center for Advancement in Managing Pain | University of Connecticut


Steven G. Kinsey is an educator and researcher with specialized training in pain, immunology, and behavioral pharmacology.


Steven Kinsey is an educator and researcher with specialized training in pain, immunology, and behavioral pharmacology. His lab uses multidisciplinary tools, including pharmacological and genetic experimental animal models to study the opioid and endocannabinoid systems and how they control of pain, inflammation, addiction, anxiety, depression, and the neuroendocrine stress response. Steven's goal, as principal investigator and mentor of a diverse team of graduate and undergraduate students, is to help develop interventions to improve pain management and reduce human suffering.

Areas of Expertise (9)

Pain Management

Substance Use Disorders

Chronic Pain






Endocannabinoid System

Education (4)

Diablo Valley College: AA 1997

University of California, Davis: BS, Psychology 1999

The Ohio State University: MA, Behavioral Neuroscience 2003

The Ohio State University: PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience 2007

Affiliations (5)

  • United States Association for the Study of Pain (USASP) : Member
  • International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) : Executive Director
  • Frontiers in Pain Research : Editorial Board Member
  • Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Emotion Regulation and Processing : Editorial Board Member
  • Neuropharmacology : Editorial Board Member

Accomplishments (4)

Outstanding Researcher Award (professional)

2019, West Virginia University

Postdoctoral Best Abstract Award (professional)

2011, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Trainee Scholarship (professional)

2010, Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society

Meritorious Teaching Award (professional)

2007, The Ohio State University






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Science in Seconds: Cannabinoids | UConn


Media Appearances (10)

Here's what could change with cannabis in Connecticut if it's reclassified as a Schedule III drug

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Cannabis-related research will also be impacted. Researchers have found studying the effects of cannabis and the chemical compounds it contains to be a challenge, considering the federal government’s view that it has no benefit. “People have been using cannabis for thousands of years, but yet the sort of documented, empirical evidence to support what people are using it for has just been within the past few decades,” said UConn professor Steve Kinsey. “We're dealing with a Schedule I compound which supposedly have no medical application, and yet now we have research showing that there are different applications for THC."

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Can delta-8 cannabis help with arthritis? UConn researchers say it appears to work for mice

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Arthritic mice don’t climb much. University of Connecticut professor Steve Kinsey determined this with what he called a “super low-tech test.” “You just give them some wire mesh like you’d use out in the garden ... and just make a little coil of the stuff and let them climb on it and they love to climb, unless they have arthritis. Then they don't climb so much,” he said. That is, at least, until you give them cannabis, in this case delta-8.

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Study: Cannabis is the treatment of choice for one-third of patients with chronic pain

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Steven Kinsey, director of UConn’s Center for Advancement in Managing Pain, studies how cannabis affects the experience of pain. He said that while some things are becoming clearer, we are far from understanding how a particular cannabis bud, or strain, clinically impacts pain. “Despite the plant being used for thousands of years for lots of different things, including pain, depression and digestive ailments, the research is still in its infancy,” Kinsey said.

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CT ranks 5th in the nation for impaired driving deaths. Commercialized cannabis could make it worse

Connecticut Public Radio  online


Some experts worry that with the de-stigmatization of cannabis as it has become legal and easily accessible, many users may not realize the effects it can have on impairment. “One of the really well known effects of cannabis is it slows down digestion,” said Steven Kinsey, a professor and director of the Center for Advancement in Managing Pain at the UConn. “The THC slows down digestion; it can slow down alcohol absorption and so the alcohol effects can last longer than they would have if the person hadn't also smoked cannabis.”

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Cannabis research is the focus of upcoming University of Connecticut symposium

Connecticut Public Radio  online


Steve Kinsey, a professor at the School of Nursing and director of the Center of Advancement in Managing Pain at UConn, said the conference is a great way to bring together researchers who use cannabis products while working directly with patients in clinics.

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CBD altered to THC sold in Connecticut despite law

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Steve Kinsey, director of UConn’s Center for Advancement in Managing Pain, under a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, has been studying the effects of delta-8 and other compounds found in cannabis. He said that, at least in mice, synthetically produced delta-8 THC appears to affect the same brain receptors and create the same high as other chemicals found in cannabis. In addition to observing the mice’s behavioral changes, the animals are trained with food to poke their noses through a hole when they feel the effects of delta-9, the chemical usually associated with the euphoric effects of marijuana.

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What Makes Hemp a Safe Herbal Therapy and Marijuana Illegal?

Revyuh  online


Professor Steve Kinsey of the UConn School of Nursing and director of the Center for Advancement in Managing Pain, along with graduate student Olivia Vanegas and colleagues from UConn Chemistry and local company 3BC Inc, chose to test this theory on mice. Research conducted in Japan in the 1980s revealed that mice treated with Δ8-THC and Δ9-THC experienced the same effects. The mice given Δ8 became lethargic, their body temperatures dropped, and they developed cataleptic behavior, which allowed the researchers to place the mice in unusual positions and have them remain there for several seconds—a characteristic that is common in THC-treated mice but not in untreated mice. Kinsey and Vanegas replicated that research and confirmed its validity.

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Lab Mice Agree: Delta-8 Just Like Taking Delta-9

Pain News Network  online


The mice found otherwise. When given Delta-8 THC derived from hemp twice a day for five days, the mice showed signs of lethargy, dependence and “liking” behavior. Although not as potent as the Delta-9 THC derived from marijuana, researchers reported in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence that Delta-8 had similar psychoactive effects on the mice, “including evidence of dependence and abuse potential.” “So they’re telling us the same thing people buying the stuff in gas stations tell us: (Delta-8) feels like THC,” says Steve Kinsey, PhD, a UConn School of Nursing professor and director of the Center for Advancement in Managing Pain.

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Nursing Researcher Investigating Treatment to Increased Pain Sensitivity from Opioid Use

Mirage.News  online


Steven Kinsey is investigating how we might be able to use the body's own cannabis-like chemicals to treat a painful condition associated with opioid use and addiction.

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Why CT experts say it’s hard to tell when people are too high to drive

Hearst Connecticut Media  print


Steven Kinsey, for example, studies stoned mice. It’s part of his job as director of the University of Connecticut’s Center for Advancement in Managing Pain, where part of his research involves looking for pain management alternatives that don’t also create the euphoria associated with cannabis or opiates. Though Kinsey said it’s hard to draw too many parallels between mice and men, he was not certain if he could tell if a mouse was stoned even in strict laboratory conditions.

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Event Appearances (5)

The minor cannabinoid delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol attenuates inflammatory arthritis

Carolina Cannabinoid Collaborative  Raleigh-Durham, NC

Differential effects of Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol and β-caryophyllene in experimentally-induced pruritus

Carolina Cannabinoid Collaborative  Raleigh-Durham, NC

In vivo effects of minor cannabinoids cannabinol, cannabichromene, and cannabicyclol occur via multiple receptor mechanisms

International Cannabinoid Research Society Symposium  Toronto, Canada

Δ8-THC and β-caryophyllene Differentially Alter Pruritus in Mice

International Cannabinoid Research Society Symposium  Toronto, Canada

Dual MAGL & COX inhibition additively attenuates post-operative pain in mice

International Cannabinoid Research Society Symposium  Toronto, Canada

Articles (5)

Assessment of dependence potential and abuse liability of Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol in mice

Drug and Alcohol Dependence

2022 Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) is a psychotropic cannabinoid produced in low quantities in the cannabis plant. Refinements in production techniques, paired with the availability of inexpensive cannabidiol substrate, have resulted in Δ8-THC being widely marketed as a quasi-legal, purportedly milder alternative to Δ9-THC.

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The Endogenous Cannabinoid System: A Budding Source of Targets for Treating Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain


2018 A great need exists for the development of new medications to treat pain resulting from various disease states and types of injury. Given that the endogenous cannabinoid (that is, endocannabinoid) system modulates neuronal and immune cell function, both of which play key roles in pain, therapeutics targeting this system hold promise as novel analgesics.

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Endocannabinoid Hydrolysis Generates Brain Prostaglandins That Promote Neuroinflammation


2011 Phospholipase A2(PLA2) enzymes are considered the primary source of arachidonic acid for cyclooxygenase (COX)–mediated biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Here, we show that a distinct pathway exists in brain, where monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) hydrolyzes the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol to generate a major arachidonate precursor pool for neuroinflammatory prostaglandins.

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Chronic monoacylglycerol lipase blockade causes functional antagonism of the endocannabinoid system

Nature Neuroscience

2010 Prolonged exposure to drugs of abuse, such as cannabinoids and opioids, leads to pharmacological tolerance and receptor desensitization in the nervous system. We found that a similar form of functional antagonism was produced by sustained inactivation of monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), the principal degradative enzyme for the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol.

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Selective blockade of 2-arachidonoylglycerol hydrolysis produces cannabinoid behavioral effects

Nature Chemical Biology

2009 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and anandamide are endocannabinoids that activate the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. Endocannabinoid signaling is terminated by enzymatic hydrolysis, a process that for anandamide is mediated by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and for 2-AG is thought to involve monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL).

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