Edward Daniel Levin

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.

Levin, ED, Wells, C, Slade, S, and Rezvani, AH. "Mutually augmenting interactions of dextromethorphan and sazetidine-A for reducing nicotine self-administration in rats." Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior 166 (March 2018): 42-47. Full Text

Pitt, JA, Kozal, JS, Jayasundara, N, Massarsky, A, Trevisan, R, Geitner, N, Wiesner, M, Levin, ED, and Di Giulio, RT. "Uptake, tissue distribution, and toxicity of polystyrene nanoparticles in developing zebrafish (Danio rerio)." Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 194 (January 2018): 185-194. Full Text

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

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, Robinson, E, Eisenberg, L, Levin, ED, Bonaventure, P, Motley, T, Lovenberg, TW, Heilig, M, Thorsell, A, and Cippitelli, A. "EFFECTS OF A NOVEL, SELECTIVE BRAIN NPY Y2 RECPTOR ANATONIST JNJ-31020028, ON ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION, RELAPSE AND ANXIETY IN RATS." June 2011.


Levin, ED, Hampton, D, Xiao, Y, and Kellar, KJ. "Sazetidine-A, a nicotinic desensitizing agent, decreases nicotine self-administration in rats." October 15, 2007.

Levin, ED, Roegge, C, Timofeeva, O, Seidler, FJ, and Slotkin, TA. "Low dose early postnatal diazinon exposure causes impaired working memory on the radial-arm maze in rats during adulthood." December 2006.

Levin, ED, Bencan, Z, and Cerutti, DT. "Assessing stress in zebrafish: Anxiolytic effects of nicotine." November 2006. Full Text

Roegge, C, Timofeva, O, Seidler, F, Slotkin, TA, and Levin, ED. "Persisting effects of early postnatal diazinon exposure on emotional reactivity in rats.": Elsevier BV, November 2006. Full Text


Selected Grants

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

Neurobehavioral Teratology Society: Zebrafish Symposium awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2011

Adolescence: A Sensitive Period for Nicotine Addiction awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2004 to 2010

MARCKS Peptides and Memory awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2010

Neuroimaging Attentional Impairment During Abstinence awarded by National Institutes of Health (Consultant). 2004 to 2009

Nicotinic-Antipsychotic Drug Interactions and Cognition awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2001 to 2006

Marine Toxin Impacts on Neurobehavioral Function awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2004