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.

Abreu-Villaça, Y, and Levin, ED. "Developmental neurotoxicity of succeeding generations of insecticides." Environment international 99 (February 2017): 55-77. (Review) 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 (January 25, 2017): 106-113. Full Text

Slotkin, TA, Skavicus, S, Card, J, Levin, ED, and Seidler, FJ. "Diverse neurotoxicants target the differentiation of embryonic neural stem cells into neuronal and glial phenotypes." Toxicology 372 (November 2, 2016): 42-51. Full Text

Petro, A, Sexton, HG, Miranda, C, Rastogi, A, Freedman, JH, and Levin, ED. "Persisting neurobehavioral effects of developmental copper exposure in wildtype and metallothionein 1 and 2 knockout mice." BMC pharmacology & toxicology 17.1 (November 2, 2016): 55-.

Levin, ED, Hall, BJ, Chattopadhyay, A, Slade, S, Wells, C, Rezvani, AH, and Rose, JE. "Reduction of nicotine self-administration by chronic nicotine infusion with H1 histamine blockade in female rats." Psychopharmacology 233.15-16 (August 2016): 3009-3015. Full Text

Hall, BJ, Cauley, M, Burke, DA, Kiany, A, Slotkin, TA, and Levin, ED. "Cognitive and Behavioral Impairments Evoked by Low-Level Exposure to Tobacco Smoke Components: Comparison with Nicotine Alone." Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology 151.2 (June 2016): 236-244. Full Text

Levin, ED. "Crumbling Infrastructure and Learning Impairment: A Call for Responsibility." Environmental health perspectives 124.5 (May 2016): A79-. Full Text

Bao, X, Chandramohan, V, Reynolds, RP, Norton, JN, Wetsel, WC, Rodriguiz, RM, Aryal, DK, McLendon, RE, Levin, ED, Petry, NA, Zalutsky, MR, Burnett, BK, Kuan, C-T, Pastan, IH, and Bigner, DD. "Preclinical toxicity evaluation of a novel immunotoxin, D2C7-(scdsFv)-PE38KDEL, administered via intracerebral convection-enhanced delivery in rats." Investigational new drugs 34.2 (April 2016): 149-158. Full Text

Briggs, SA, Hall, BJ, Wells, C, Slade, S, Jaskowski, P, Morrison, M, Rezvani, AH, Rose, JE, and Levin, ED. "Dextromethorphan interactions with histaminergic and serotonergic treatments to reduce nicotine self-administration in rats." Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 142 (March 2016): 1-7. Full Text

Bailey, JM, Oliveri, AN, Karbhari, N, Brooks, RAJ, De La Rocha, AJ, Janardhan, S, and Levin, ED. "Persistent behavioral effects following early life exposure to retinoic acid or valproic acid in zebrafish." Neurotoxicology 52 (January 2016): 23-33. 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.

Cauley, M, Burke, D, Hall, BJ, Seidler, FJ, Slotkin, TA, and Levin, ED. "Sex-selective interaction of prenatal nicotine with neonatal chlorpyrifos on novel object recognition in rats." May 2014. Full Text


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.


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

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

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

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

Complementary Neurotoxicological Insights from Fish, Flies, Bees and Worms Symposium awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2016

Nicotinic Receptor Desensitization to Reduce Drug Self-Administration: Project 2 awarded by Georgetown University (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2015

Atrazine Effects in the Brain: Pilot Study awarded by Environmental Protection Agency (Principal Investigator). 2011 to 2012

Role of HPA Axis in Adolescent Vulnerability to Drug Addiction awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Mentor). 2006 to 2011