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Edward Daniel Levin, PhD

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Professor in the Environmental Sciences and Policy Division
Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Behavioral Medicine & Neurosciences
Office: 323 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701
Campus Mail: DUMC Box 104790, Durham, NC 27710

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.

Education and Training

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

Selected Grants


Levin, Edward D., Corinne Wells, Leah Yao, Wendi Guo, Anica Nangia, Sarah Howard, Erica Pippen, Andrew B. Hawkey, Jed E. Rose, and Amir H. Rezvani. “Chronic memantine decreases nicotine self-administration in rats.” Eur J Pharmacol 861 (October 15, 2019): 172592.

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Hawkey, Andrew, Shaqif Junaid, Leah Yao, Zachary Spiera, Hannah White, Marty Cauley, and Edward D. Levin. “Gestational exposure to nicotine and/or benzo[a]pyrene causes long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences.” Birth Defects Res 111, no. 17 (October 15, 2019): 1248–58.

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Slotkin, Theodore A., Samantha Skavicus, Ashley Ko, Edward D. Levin, and Frederic J. Seidler. “Perinatal diazinon exposure compromises the development of acetylcholine and serotonin systems.” Toxicology 424 (August 1, 2019): 152240.

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Hawkey, Andrew B., Hannah White, Erica Pippen, Eva Greengrove, Amir H. Rezvani, Susan K. Murphy, and Edward D. Levin. “Paternal nicotine exposure in rats produces long-lasting neurobehavioral effects in the offspring.” Neurotoxicol Teratol 74 (July 2019): 106808.

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Levin, Edward D., Andrew B. Hawkey, Brandon J. Hall, Marty Cauley, Susan Slade, Elisa Yazdani, Bruny Kenou, et al. “Paternal THC exposure in rats causes long-lasting neurobehavioral effects in the offspring.” Neurotoxicol Teratol 74 (July 2019): 106806.

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Levin, E. D. “What Can Fish Tell Us About Developmental Neurotoxic Risks of the Sea?” In Birth Defects Research, 111:454–454. WILEY, 2019.


Westerink, Remco H. S., Christoph van Thriel, Edward D. Levin, and Timothy J. Shafer. “From molecular mechanisms to functional impact: Developing integrated analyses in neurotoxicology - The 16th biennial meeting International Neurotoxicology Association and 8th meeting of the NeuroToxicity Society.” Neurotoxicology 72 (May 2019): 125–26.

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Rezvani, Amir H., Corinne Wells, Susan Slade, Yingxian Xiao, Kenneth J. Kellar, and Edward D. Levin. “Oral sazetidine-A, a selective α4β2* nicotinic receptor desensitizing agent, reduces nicotine self-administration in rats.” Pharmacol Biochem Behav 179 (April 2019): 109–12.

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Slotkin, Theodore A., Samantha Skavicus, Ashley Ko, Edward D. Levin, and Frederic J. Seidler. “Corrigendum to "The Developmental Neurotoxicity of Tobacco Smoke Can Be Mimicked by a Combination of Nicotine and Benzo[a]pyrene: Effects on Cholinergic and Serotonergic Systems".” Toxicol Sci 168, no. 1 (March 1, 2019): 280.

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Ideraabdullah, Folami Y., Anthony M. Belenchia, Cheryl Susan Rosenfeld, Seth W. Kullman, Megan Knuth, Debrata Mahapatra, Michael Bereman, Edward D. Levin, and Catherine Ann Peterson. “Maternal vitamin D deficiency and developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD).” J Endocrinol, March 1, 2019.

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