Edward Daniel Levin

Edward Daniel Levin

Director, Center on Addiction & Behavior Change

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

External Address: 
323 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701
Internal Office Address: 
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 & Training

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

Selected Grants

Duke University Program in Environmental Health awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2013 to 2024

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 2020

Duke University Program in Environmental Health awarded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Mentor). 2013 to 2019

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


Levin, Edward D., et al. “Chronic memantine decreases nicotine self-administration in rats..” Eur J Pharmacol, vol. 861, Oct. 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2019.172592. Full Text

Willette, Blair K. A., et al. “Acute and chronic interactive treatments of serotonin 5HT2C and dopamine D1 receptor systems for decreasing nicotine self-administration in female rats..” Pharmacol Biochem Behav, vol. 186, Aug. 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2019.172766. Full Text

Levin, Edward D., et al. “Paternal THC exposure in rats causes long-lasting neurobehavioral effects in the offspring..” Neurotoxicol Teratol, vol. 74, July 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2019.04.003. Full Text

Hawkey, Andrew B., et al. “Paternal nicotine exposure in rats produces long-lasting neurobehavioral effects in the offspring..” Neurotoxicol Teratol, vol. 74, July 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2019.05.001. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rezvani, Amir H., et al. “Oral sazetidine-A, a selective α4β2* nicotinic receptor desensitizing agent, reduces nicotine self-administration in rats..” Pharmacol Biochem Behav, vol. 179, Apr. 2019, pp. 109–12. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2019.02.007. Full Text

Ideraabdullah, Folami Y., et al. “Maternal vitamin D deficiency and developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD)..” J Endocrinol, Mar. 2019. Pubmed, doi:10.1530/JOE-18-0541. Full Text

Levin, Edward D., et al. “α4β2 Nicotinic receptor desensitizing compounds can decrease self-administration of cocaine and methamphetamine in rats..” Eur J Pharmacol, vol. 845, Feb. 2019, pp. 1–7. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.12.010. Full Text

Oliveri, Anthony N., and Edward D. Levin. “Dopamine D1 and D2 receptor antagonism during development alters later behavior in zebrafish..” Behav Brain Res, vol. 356, Jan. 2019, pp. 250–56. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.028. Full Text


Levin, Edward D., et al. “Nicotinic treatments not only for tobacco, but also other addictions.” Biochemical Pharmacology, vol. 97, no. 4, Elsevier BV, 2015, pp. 635–635. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2015.08.040. Full Text

Hall, Brandon J., et al. “Low dose tobacco smoke extract exposure during development causes long-term behavioral dysfunction in rats.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 49, Elsevier BV, 2015, pp. 121–22. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2015.04.073. Full Text

Bailey, Jordan, and Ed Levin. “The neurobehavioral toxicity of FireMaster 550® in zebrafish ( Danio rerio ): Chronic developmental and acute adolescent exposures.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 49, Elsevier BV, 2015, pp. 118–118. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2015.04.064. Full Text

Oliveri, Anthony, and Ed Levin. “Early-life exposure to organophosphate flame retardants alters behavior in adult zebrafish: A comparison with organophosphate pesticides.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 49, Elsevier BV, 2015, pp. 130–130. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2015.04.096. Full Text

Levin, Edward D. “Age and sex differences in starting nicotine self-administration in early, mid or late adolescence vs. adulthood: Cause and effect relationships determined in a rat model.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 49, Elsevier BV, 2015, pp. 140–140. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2015.04.128. Full Text

Rezvani, Amir H., and Edward D. Levin. “Assessment of pregnenolone effects on alcohol intake and preference in male alcohol preferring (P) rats..” Eur J Pharmacol, vol. 740, 2014, pp. 53–57. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2014.07.003. Full Text

Zhang, C., et al. “LONG-TERM BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS OF EMBRYONIC ETHANOL EXPOSURE IN ZEBRAFISH.” Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, vol. 38, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2014, pp. 176A-176A.

Cauley, M., et al. “Sex-selective interaction of prenatal nicotine with neonatal chlorpyrifos on novel object recognition in rats.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 43, Elsevier BV, 2014, pp. 88–89. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2014.04.043. Full Text

Burke, Dennis, and Edward D. Levin. “Nicotinic α4β2 antagonist treatment attenuates impairments in radial-arm maze repeated acquisition caused by dizocilpine in rats.” Biochemical Pharmacology, vol. 86, no. 8, Elsevier BV, 2013, pp. 1231–1231. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2013.08.047. Full Text

Rezvani, A. H., et al. “DESENSITIZATION OF A4 beta 2 NICOTINIC RECEPTORS ATTENUATES ALCOHOL INTAKE AND PREFERENCE IN ALCOHOL PREFERRING P RATS.” Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, vol. 37, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2013, pp. 247A-247A.