Edward Daniel Levin

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison 1984


Dr. Levin is Chief of the Neurobehavioral Research Lab in the Psychiatry Department of Duke University Medical Center. His primary academic appointment is as Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He also has secondary appointments in the Department Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. His primary research effort is to understand basic neural interactions underlying cognitive function and addiction and to apply this knowledge to better understand cognitive dysfunction and addiction disorders and to develop novel therapeutic treatments.

The three main research components of his laboratory are focused on the themes of the basic neurobiology of cognition and addiction, neurobehavioral toxicology and the development of novel therapeutic treatments for cognitive dysfunction and substance abuse. Currently, our principal research focus concerns nicotine. We have documented the basic effects of nicotine on learningm memory and attention as well as nicotine self-administration. We are continuing with more mechanistic studies in rat models using selective lesions, local infusions and neurotransmitter interaction studies. We have found that nicotine improves memory performance not only in normal rats, but also in rats with lesions of hippocampal and basal forebrain connections. We are concentrating on alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor subtypes in the hippocampus, amygdala , thalamus and frontal cortex and how they interact with dopamine D1 and D2 and glutamate NMDA systems with regard to memory and addiction. I am also conducting studies on human cognitive behavior. We have current studies to assess nicotine effects on attention, memory and mental processing speed in schizophrenics, Alzheimer's Disease patients and people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In the area of neurobehavioral toxicology, I have continuing projects to characterize the adverse effects of prenatal and adolescent nicotine exposure. Our primary project in neurobehavioral toxicology focuses on the cognitive deficits caused by the marine toxins including domoic acid, ciguatera toxin and pfiesteria. We have documented a persistent neurobehavioral effects caused by Pfiesteria and domoic acid exposure. We are determining the neurobehavioral nature and mechanisms of this deficit. The basic and applied aims of our research complement each other nicely. The findings concerning neural mechanisms underlying cognitive function help direct the behavioral toxicology and therapeutic development studies, while the applied studies provide important functional information concerning the importance of the basic mechanisms under investigation.

Lacagnina, MJ, Kopec, AM, Cox, SS, Hanamsagar, R, Wells, C, Slade, S, Grace, PM, Watkins, LR, Levin, ED, and Bilbo, SD. "Opioid Self-Administration is Attenuated by Early-Life Experience and Gene Therapy for Anti-Inflammatory IL-10 in the Nucleus Accumbens of Male Rats." Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 42.11 (October 2017): 2128-2140. Full Text

Glazer, L, Wells, CN, Drastal, M, Odamah, K-A, Galat, RE, Behl, M, and Levin, ED. "Developmental exposure to low concentrations of two brominated flame retardants, BDE-47 and BDE-99, causes life-long behavioral alterations in zebrafish." Neurotoxicology (September 18, 2017). Full Text

Rezvani, AH, Slade, S, Wells, C, Yenugonda, VM, Liu, Y, Brown, ML, Xiao, Y, Kellar, KJ, and Levin, ED. "Differential efficacies of the nicotinic α4β2 desensitizing agents in reducing nicotine self-administration in female rats." Psychopharmacology 234.17 (September 2017): 2517-2523. Full Text

Massarsky, A, Abdel, A, Glazer, L, Levin, ED, and Di Giulio, RT. "Exposure to 1,2-Propanediol Impacts Early Development of Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and Induces Hyperactivity." Zebrafish 14.3 (June 2017): 216-222. Full Text

Hall, BJ, Abreu-Villaça, Y, Cauley, M, Junaid, S, White, H, Kiany, A, and Levin, ED. "The ventral hippocampal muscarinic cholinergic system plays a key role in sexual dimorphisms of spatial working memory in rats." Neuropharmacology 117 (May 2017): 106-113. Full Text

Abreu-Villaça, Y, and Levin, ED. "Developmental neurotoxicity of succeeding generations of insecticides." Environment international 99 (February 2017): 55-77. (Review) Full Text

Macaulay, LJ, Chernick, M, Chen, A, Hinton, DE, Bailey, JM, Kullman, SW, Levin, ED, and Stapleton, HM. "Exposure to a PBDE/OH-BDE mixture alters juvenile zebrafish (Danio rerio) development." Environmental toxicology and chemistry 36.1 (January 2017): 36-48. Full Text

Slotkin, TA, Stadler, A, Skavicus, S, Card, J, Ruff, J, Levin, ED, and Seidler, FJ. "Is There a Critical Period for the Developmental Neurotoxicity of Low-Level Tobacco Smoke Exposure?." Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology 155.1 (January 2017): 75-84. Full Text

Rezvani, AH, Levin, ED, Cauley, M, Getachew, B, and Tizabi, Y. "Ketamine Differentially Attenuates Alcohol Intake in Male Versus Female Alcohol Preferring (P) Rats." Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research 6 (2017): 1-6. Full Text


Levin, ED, Rezvani, AH, Xiao, Y, Yenugonda, VM, Brown, ML, and Kellar, KJ. "Nicotinic treatments not only for tobacco, but also other addictions." October 2015. Full Text

Zhang, C, Bailey, JM, Oliveri, AN, Frazier, J, Delarosa, A, Crosby, E, Janardhan, S, Mackinnon, S, Levin, ED, and Cole, GJ. "LONG-TERM BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS OF EMBRYONIC ETHANOL EXPOSURE IN ZEBRAFISH." June 2014.


Yenugonda, VM, Xiao, Y, Levin, ED, Rezvani, AH, Tran, TT, Al-Muhtasib, N, Wells, C, Slade, S, Johnson, JE, Kong, H-S, Dakshanamurthy, S, Tomita, Y, Liu, Y, Paige, MA, Kellar, KJ, and Brown, ML. "Design, synthesis, and characterization of picomolar selective a4b2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor inhibitors." August 19, 2012.


Selected Grants

Paternal Transgenerational Epigenetic Legacy from Use of Cannabis awarded by John Templeton Foundation (Co-Project Leader). 2017 to 2020

Pharmacological Sciences Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Participating Faculty Member). 1975 to 2020

Alzheimer's Disease, Genes, and Pesticide Use in the Agricultural Health Study awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2019

Study of Novel Treatment to Prevent Acquisition of Opiate Self-Administration in Rats awarded by Amygdala Neurosciences Inc. (Co Investigator). 2017 to 2018

Duke University Program in Environmental Health awarded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Mentor). 2013 to 2018

Advancing Mechanistic Understanding of Neurotoxic Contributors to Autism awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

Establishing an AOP for the Role of the Vitamin D Receptor in Developmental Neurotoxicity awarded by North Carolina State University (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2018

Acute and chronic nicotine modulation of reinforcement learning awarded by National Institutes of Health (Collaborator). 2013 to 2017

Pilot Project: Effects of Cannabis on the Epigenome of Humans and Rats awarded by John Templeton Foundation (Co-Project Leader). 2016 to 2017

Screening Potential Persisting Neurobehavioral Effects-Zebrafish Exposed to Flame Retardants awarded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2017