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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


Slotkin, Theodore A., Ashley Stadler, Samantha Skavicus, Jennifer Card, Jonathan Ruff, Edward D. Levin, and Frederic J. Seidler. “Is There a Critical Period for the Developmental Neurotoxicity of Low-Level Tobacco Smoke Exposure?” Toxicol Sci 155, no. 1 (January 2017): 75–84.

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Rezvani, Amir H., Edward D. Levin, Marty Cauley, Bruk Getachew, and Yousef Tizabi. “Ketamine Differentially Attenuates Alcohol Intake in Male Versus Female Alcohol Preferring (P) Rats.” J Drug Alcohol Res 6 (2017).

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Slotkin, Theodore A., Samantha Skavicus, Jennifer Card, Edward D. Levin, and Frederic J. Seidler. “Diverse neurotoxicants target the differentiation of embryonic neural stem cells into neuronal and glial phenotypes.” Toxicology 372 (November 30, 2016): 42–51.

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Petro, Ann, Hannah G. Sexton, Caroline Miranda, Anit Rastogi, Jonathan H. Freedman, and Edward D. Levin. “Persisting neurobehavioral effects of developmental copper exposure in wildtype and metallothionein 1 and 2 knockout mice.” Bmc Pharmacol Toxicol 17, no. 1 (November 2, 2016): 55.

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Rezvani, Amir H., Marty C. Cauley, Susan Slade, Corinne Wells, Stanley Glick, Jed E. Rose, and Edward D. Levin. “Acute oral 18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC) decreases both alcohol intake and IV nicotine self-administration in rats.” Pharmacol Biochem Behav 150–151 (November 2016): 153–57.

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Murphy, S. K., S. Keyhan, L. Guo, K. Tomins, M. Taylor, R. Joglekar, Z. Huang, et al. “Environmental Influence on Preconceptional and Gestational DNA Methylation Profiles.” In Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, 57:S39–S39. WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016.


Levin, Edward D., Brandon J. Hall, Autri Chattopadhyay, Susan Slade, Corinne Wells, Amir H. Rezvani, and Jed E. Rose. “Reduction of nicotine self-administration by chronic nicotine infusion with H1 histamine blockade in female rats.” Psychopharmacology (Berl) 233, no. 15–16 (August 2016): 3009–15.

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Hall, Brandon J., Marty Cauley, Dennis A. Burke, Abtin Kiany, Theodore A. Slotkin, and Edward D. Levin. “Cognitive and Behavioral Impairments Evoked by Low-Level Exposure to Tobacco Smoke Components: Comparison with Nicotine Alone.” Toxicol Sci 151, no. 2 (June 2016): 236–44.

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Levin, Edward D. “Crumbling Infrastructure and Learning Impairment: A Call for Responsibility.” Environ Health Perspect 124, no. 5 (May 1, 2016): A79.

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Bao, Xuhui, Vidyalakshmi Chandramohan, Randall P. Reynolds, John N. Norton, William C. Wetsel, Ramona M. Rodriguiz, Dipendra K. Aryal, et al. “Preclinical toxicity evaluation of a novel immunotoxin, D2C7-(scdsFv)-PE38KDEL, administered via intracerebral convection-enhanced delivery in rats.” Invest New Drugs 34, no. 2 (April 2016): 149–58.

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