Kenneth Blum

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Kenneth Blum (born August 8, 1939) is an American scientist who has studied neuropsychopharmacology and genetics. Until 1995 he was a professor of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Blum originated the term "reward deficiency syndrome". There is no consensus among addiction researchers that empirical evidence exists to justify such a concept.[1] He holds multiple patents relating to genetic testing and treatment for the supposed syndrome that have been licensed through various different corporations.

Academic background[edit]

Blum received his B.S. in pharmacy from Columbia University in 1961, his M.S. in medical science in 1965 from the New Jersey College of Medicine, and his Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1968 from the New York Medical College. Blum completed post-doctorate research in psychopharmacology at the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education. He also completed a fellowship in pharmacogenetics under Gerald McClearn at the University of Colorado College of Pharmacy (Boulder) in 1977. He retired in 1995 from his position as professor at the Department of Pharmacology, Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, University of Texas.


Blum collaborated on a study that found a correlation between an allele in the dopamine D2 Receptor and alcoholism in a post-mortem study of brain tissue from 35 alcoholics and 35 non-alcoholics.[2] Blum believed his work to be of broader scope, calling this gene a "reward gene" which covers other addictive behaviors including drug addiction, smoking, overeating, and pathological gambling.[3]

Reward deficiency syndrome[edit]

Blum originated the concept of reward deficiency syndrome (RDS) in 1996.[4] The term refers to an inborn chemical imbalance that alters the intercellular signaling in the brain's reward process and can manifest itself as one or more behavioral disorders.[citation needed] This syndrome involves a form of sensory deprivation of the brain's pleasure mechanisms. It can be expressed as relatively mild or severe forms, that result in a consequence of an individual's biochemical inability to derive reward from ordinary, every day activities.[citation needed] The term has been applied to a wide variety of addictive, obsessive and compulsive behaviors including substance and process addictions, personality and spectrum disorders.[5][6] There is no consistent evidence to validate any such syndrome.[1] "Reward deficiency syndrome" is not a medically recognized disorder:[7] The diagnostic validity of RDS has not been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in its diagnostic manual, the DSM.

Treatment Based on Reward deficiency syndrome

  • Precision Addiction Management (PAM):[8] Dopamine homeostasis can be achieved by customizing neuronutrient supplmention based on one's Genetic Addiction Risk score.
    • Goal of treatment: enhance brain reward functional connectivity volume and target reward deficiency and the stress-like anti reward symptomatology of addiction.
    • KB220Z: amino-acid therapy, compounds work in synergy to support brain reward function in the aim to induce dopamine homeostasis and is best described as a Glutaminergic-Dopaminergic Optimization Complex.[9] There are over 30 clinical trails for a number of KB220 variants. There have been numerous positive effects from this treatment for substance users such as: increase in BOLD activation in caudate-accumbens-dopaminergic pathways,[10] sobriety with no relapse two-years post treatment,[11] and reduced cravings.[12] For more information on the positive effects please visit the cited source, which includes positive effects from 29 different studies.[9]

Commercial activities[edit]

Blum is the editor-in-chief of Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome and Addiction Science and founded the company that publishes it, United Scientific Group.[13][14] Blum was also editor-in-chief of OMICS Publication Group's Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy (JART) from 2013 to 2015.[15][16] Both United Scientific Group and OMICS Group are featured on Beall's list[17] and are widely regarded as predatory open-access publishers.[18]

Blum has received patents for the use of dietary supplements to treat RDS.[19][20][21] Blum licenses these patents through his company Synaptamine, Inc., which is incorporated in Austin, Texas.[22] Supplements marketed in this way include Synaptamine, SyntaptaGenX, and Synaptose. Synaptamine has been licensed to LaVita RDS, a company based in Lehi, Utah, of which Blum was the Chief Scientific Officer.[18] Synaptamine was subsequently marketed by Sanus Biotech, a company based in Austin, Texas. SynaptaGenX is licensed to NuPathways Inc., for whom Blum acts as Chief Neuroscience Advisor.[23] Blum has also marketed dietary supplements that claim to assist weight loss, including PhenCal (licensed to Weider Nutrition) and SyntaptaLean (licensed to Nature's Plus). In the past, Blum has sold a variety of supplements and oral sprays through a website called DocBlumInc.

Blum markets a genetic test, the Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS), through his company IGENE LLC in partnership with Dominion Diagnostics,[24][22][25] through LifeGen, Inc., where he is chairman of the board and Chief Scientific Officer,[26] and via Geneus Health for whom he also acts Chief Scientific Officer and chairman.[27] It is claimed that GARS assesses the genetic predisposition toward RDS.[25]

Until 2008 he was Chief Scientific Officer of Salugen Inc., another direct-to-consumer genetics testing company.[28] After Blum's departure, Salugen continued under the leadership of Brian Meshkin, latterly CEO of Prove Biosciences, until its demise a year later.[29] Blum is Scientific Director of the PATH foundation.[30]


  • Blum, K., Gaskill, H., DeLallo, L., Briggs, A. H., & Hall, W. (1985). Methionine enkephalin as a possible neuromodulator of regional cerebral blood flow. Experientia, 41(7), 932–933.
  • Blum, Kenneth; Noble, Ernest; Peter J. Sheridan; Anne Montgomery; Terry Ritchie; Pudur Jagadeeswaran; Harou Nogami; Arthur H. Briggs; Jay B. Cohn (April 18, 1990). "Allelic Association of Human Dopamine D2 Receptor Gene in Alcoholism". Journal of the American Medical Association. 263 (15): 2055–60. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440150063027. ISSN 1538-3598. PMID 1969501.
  • Blum, Kenneth; Payne, James E (1991). Alcohol and the Addictive Brain. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 0-02-903701-8. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  • Blum, K.; Sheridan, P. J.; Wood, R. C.; Braverman, E. R.; Chen, T J H.; Phd, J G Cull; Comings, D. E. (1996). "The D2 Dopamine Receptor Gene as a Determinant of Reward Deficiency Syndrome". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 89 (7): 396–400. doi:10.1177/014107689608900711. PMC 1295855. PMID 8774539.
  • Blum, Kenneth G.; Cull, John R.; Braverman, Eric E.; Comings, David (1996). "Reward Deficiency Syndrome". American Scientist. 84 (2): 132. Bibcode:1996AmSci..84..132B.
  • Blum, Kenneth; Braverman, Eric R; Holder, Jay M; Lubar, Joel F; Monastra, Vincent J; Miller, David; Comings, David E (November 2000). "Reward Deficiency Syndrome: A Biogenetic Model for the Diagnosis and Treatment of impulsive, Addictive, and Compulsive Behaviors". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 32 (Supplement): i–iv, 1–112. doi:10.1080/02791072.2000.10736099. ISSN 0279-1072. PMID 11280926. S2CID 22497665.
  • Blum, K., Febo, M., Fried, L., Li, M., Dushaj, K., Braverman, E. R., McLaughlin, T., Steinberg, B., & Badgaiyan, R. D. (2017). Hypothesizing that neuropharmacological and neuroimaging studies of glutaminergic-dopaminergic optimization complex (KB220Z) are associated with “Dopamine Homeostasis” in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS). Substance Use & Misuse, 52(4), 535–547. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1244551
  • Blum, K., Gondré-Lewis, M. C., Baron, D., Thanos, P. K., Braverman, E. R., Neary, J., Elman, I., & Badgaiyan, R. D. (2018). Introducing precision addiction management of reward deficiency syndrome, the construct that underpins all addictive behaviors. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9.
  • Blum, K., Febo, M., Mclaughlin, T., Cronjé, F. J., Han, D., & Gold, M. S. (2014). Hatching the behavioral addiction egg: Reward Deficiency Solution System (RDSS)™ as a function of dopaminergic neurogenetics and brain functional connectivity linking all addictions under a common rubric. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 3(3), 149–156.
  • Blum, K., Febo, M., Thanos, P. K., Baron, D., Fratantonio, J., & Gold, M. (2015). Clinically combating reward deficiency syndrome (RDS) with dopamine agonist therapy as a paradigm shift: Dopamine for dinner? Molecular Neurobiology, 52(3), 1862–1869.
  • Blum, K., Chen, A. L. C., Giordano, J., Borsten, J., Chen, T. J. H., Hauser, M., Simpatico, T., Femino, J., Braverman, E. R., & Barh, D. (2012). The addictive brain: All roads lead to dopamine. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 44(2), 134–143.


  1. ^ a b Leyton, Marco (1 September 2014). "What's deficient in reward deficiency?". Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. Joule Inc. 39 (5): 291–293. doi:10.1503/jpn.140204. ISSN 1180-4882. PMC 4160357. PMID 25162147.
  2. ^ Blum, Kenneth; Noble, Ernest; Peter J. Sheridan; Anne Montgomery; Terry Ritchie; Pudur Jagadeeswaran; Harou Nogami; Arthur H. Briggs; Jay B. Cohn (April 18, 1990). "Allelic Association of Human Dopamine D2 Receptor Gene in Alcoholism". Journal of the American Medical Association. 263 (15): 2055–60. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440150063027. ISSN 1538-3598. PMID 1969501.
  3. ^ Comings, David E.; Blum, Kenneth (2000). "Reward deficiency syndrome: genetic aspects of behavioral disorders". Prog Brain Res. Progress in Brain Research. 126: 325–41. doi:10.1016/S0079-6123(00)26022-6. ISBN 9780444503329. PMID 11105655.
  4. ^ Blum, K; Sheridan, P J; Wood, R C; Braverman, E R; Chen, T J H; phd, J G Cull; Comings, D E (July 1996). "The D 2 Dopamine Receptor Gene as a Determinant of Reward Deficiency Syndrome". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 89 (7): 396–400. doi:10.1177/014107689608900711. ISSN 0141-0768. PMC 1295855. PMID 8774539.
  5. ^ "When the Thrill is Gone: Reward Deficiency Syndrome".
  6. ^ Blum, Kenneth G.; Cull, John R.; Braverman, Eric E.; Comings, David (1996). "Reward Deficiency Syndrome". American Scientist. 84 (2): 132. Bibcode:1996AmSci..84..132B.
  7. ^ Barrett, Stephen; Hall, Harriet (24 November 2008). "Dubious Genetic Testing". Quackwatch. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  8. ^ Blum, Kenneth; Gondré-Lewis, Marjorie C.; Baron, David; Thanos, Panayotis K.; Braverman, Eric R.; Neary, Jennifer; Elman, Igor; Badgaiyan, Rajendra D. (2018). "Introducing Precision Addiction Management of Reward Deficiency Syndrome, the Construct That Underpins All Addictive Behaviors". Frontiers in Psychiatry. 9: 548. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00548. ISSN 1664-0640. PMC 6277779. PMID 30542299.
  9. ^ a b Blum, Kenneth; Febo, Marcelo; Fried, Lyle; Li, Mona; Dushaj, Kristina; Braverman, Eric R.; McLaughlin, Thomas; Steinberg, Bruce; Badgaiyan, Rajendra D. (2017-03-21). "Hypothesizing That Neuropharmacological and Neuroimaging Studies of Glutaminergic-Dopaminergic Optimization Complex (KB220Z) Are Associated With "Dopamine Homeostasis" in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)". Substance Use & Misuse. 52 (4): 535–547. doi:10.1080/10826084.2016.1244551. ISSN 1082-6084. PMC 5589271. PMID 28033474.
  10. ^ Blum, Kenneth; Liu, Yijun; Wang, Wei; Wang, Yarong; Zhang, Yi; Oscar-Berman, Marlene; Smolen, Andrew; Febo, Marcelo; Han, David; Simpatico, Thomas; Cronjé, Frans J. (2015-03-04). "rsfMRI effects of KB220Z™ on neural pathways in reward circuitry of abstinent genotyped heroin addicts". Postgraduate Medicine. 127 (2): 232–241. doi:10.1080/00325481.2015.994879. ISSN 0032-5481. PMC 4979602. PMID 25526228.
  11. ^ Miller, Merlene; Chen, Amanda LC; Stokes, Stan D.; Silverman, Susan; Bowirrat, Abdalla; Manka, Matthew; Manka, Debra; Miller, David K.; Perrine, Kenneth; Chen, Thomas JH; Bailey, John A. (2012-11-01). "Early Intervention of Intravenous KB220IV- Neuroadaptagen Amino-Acid Therapy (NAAT)™ Improves Behavioral Outcomes in a Residential Addiction Treatment Program: A Pilot Study". Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. 44 (5): 398–409. doi:10.1080/02791072.2012.737727. ISSN 0279-1072. PMC 4074362. PMID 23457891.
  12. ^ Cold, Julie (2012). "NeuRecover-SA in Treatment of Cocaine Withdrawal and Cravings". Clinical Drug Administration. 12: 1–7.
  13. ^ "Management". United Scientific Group. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome and Addiction Science". Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome and Addiction Science. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Dr. Kenneth Blum Resigns Position At OMICS Group To Focus On Innovative New Journals". PROLOG Press Release Distribution. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Kenneth Blum Appointed as Editor-in-Chief of OMICS Group's Open-Access Medical Journal: Addiction Research & Therapy". PR Newswire. 14 Aug 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers". Beall's List. Archived from the original on 4 February 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  18. ^ a b "The Strange World of "Reward Deficiency Syndrome" (Part 3)". 17 August 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Allelic polygene diagnosis of reward deficiency syndrome and treatment". Google Patents. 29 April 1997. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  20. ^ "Diagnosis and treatment system for "reward deficiency syndrome" (RDS) and related behaviors". Google Patents. 4 August 1999. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Anti-RDS compounds and method of manufacture and administration thereof to induce dopamine homeostatis". Google Patents. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Dominion Diagnostics Chief Scientific Advisor Kenneth Blum, PhD Receives 2014 ASAM Medical-Scientific Program Committee Award for Best Scientific Abstract". PR Newswire. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  23. ^ "SynaptaGenX: Addiction Recovery". SynaptaGenX. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Kenneth Blum, PhD". Dominion Diagnostics. Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS): Molecular Neurogenetic Evidence for Predisposition to Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS)". Dominion Diagnostics. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  26. ^ "Russell Armstrong and Crescent Financial Partners Retained by LifeGen, Inc: Patent-Holder for Neuroadaptogen Technology". Business Wire. 15 February 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  27. ^ "Kenneth Blum, B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD, DHL, Chief Scientific Officer & Chairman". Geneus Health. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  28. ^ "Kenneth Blum, PhD, Resigns from Salugen, Inc. As Chief Scientific Officer and Vice Chairman of The Board Of Directors", 24-7 Press, September 10, 2008, retrieved 17 September 2010
  29. ^ "The Salugen Story Reconstructed". Tales of Two Cities. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  30. ^ "Foundation Staff". PATH Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2018.

External links[edit]