Jeffrey A. French

Jeffrey A. French portrait

Dr. French's research focuses on the neuroendocrine regulation of social behavior, stress, and cognition in marmosets, an important translational primate model for human behavior and mental health. The closest genetic relatives of humans (chimpanzees and gorillas) are primarily fruit and plant eaters, but marmoset feeding ecology, like the typical human diet, consists of an omnivorous diet of animal protein (~ 25% of food intake), fruits and leaves (25%), and complex carbohydrates (50%). The marmoset gut microbiome likely has diversity and complexity similar to the human the human microbiome. There is an intimate communication between the gut and the brain (via the enteric nervous system, immune signals, and metabolic and appetite-regulating hormones), and this communication is modulated in important ways by the gut microbiome. The marmoset therefore has high potential as a transitional model between rodents and humans for exploring the ways in which normative or dysbiotic gut microbial communities contribute to brain function and ultimately to important psychological states. The complexity of marmoset brain structure and cognition provides a valuable endpoint for examining the links among diet-induced changes in the microbiome, alterations in neural function, and variation in behavior.

Featured Publications

French, J.A., Cavanaugh, J., Mustoe, A.C., Carp, S.B., Womack, S.L. (2017). Social monogamy in primates: phylogeny, phenotype, and physiology. Journal of Sex Research, 1-25. DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1339774

French, J.A., Mustoe, A.C., Cavanaugh, J., Taylor, J.H. (2016). Neuropeptide diversity and the regulation of social behavior in New World primates. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 42, 18-39. PMID: 27020799 

French, J.A., Carp, S.B. (2016). Early-life social adversity and developmental processes in nonhuman primates. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 7, 40-46. PMID: 26858971 

French, J.A. (2016). Genes, dopamine pathways, and sociality in primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 6325-6327. PMID: 27231218.

Cavanaugh, J., Carp, S.B., Rock, C.M., French, J. A. (2016). Oxytocin modulates behavioral and physiological responses to stressors in marmoset monkeys. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 66, 22-30. PMID: 26771946