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 - Madison 1984

Selected Grants

Microglial sculpting of dopamine receptors in adolescence: implications for opioid use disorders awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2022 to 2027

Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Preceptor). 2020 to 2025

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

Receptor-type protein in tyrosine phosphatase D (PTPRD) treatment with 7-BIA to reduce nicotine self-adminstration awarded by Biomedical Research Institute of New Mexico (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2022

HAB toxin exposure and Alzheimer's disease susceptibility awarded by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2022

Using Zebrafish to Help Identify Which Environmental Toxicants Could Increase Autism Risk awarded by Autism Research Institute (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2021

Paternal Transgenerational Epigenetic Legacy from Use of Cannabis awarded by John Templeton Foundation (Co-Project Leader). 2017 to 2021

Alzheimer's Disease, Genes, and Pesticide Use in the Agricultural Health Study awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2021

Reinforcing effect of nicotine alone vs. nicotine plus other chemicals in tobacco awarded by Rose Research Center, LLC (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2020

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


Levin, E. D., and J. J. Buccafusco. Animal models of cognitive impairment. 2006, pp. 1–376.

Levin, E. D. Nicotinic receptors in the nervous system. 2001, pp. 1–291.

Hawkey, A. B., et al. “A Behavioral Test Battery to Assess Larval and Adult Zebrafish After Developmental Neurotoxic Exposure.” Neuromethods, vol. 172, 2021, pp. 353–80. Scopus, doi:10.1007/978-1-0716-1637-6_16. Full Text

Rezvani, A. H., et al. “Oral 18-Methoxycoronaridine (18-MC) Decreases Nicotine Self-Administration in Rats.” Neuroscience of Nicotine: Mechanisms and Treatment, 2019, pp. 493–97. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-813035-3.00059-9. Full Text

Levin, E. D. “Chronic Nicotine Effects on Memory and Nicotine Self-Administration: Age of Exposure is Key.” Advances in Neurotoxicology, vol. 2, 2018, pp. 189–96. Scopus, doi:10.1016/bs.ant.2018.03.003. Full Text

Levin, E. D., and Y. Abreu-Villaça. “Developmental neurotoxicity of nicotine and tobacco.” Handbook of Developmental Neurotoxicology, 2018, pp. 439–52. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-809405-1.00039-0. Full Text

Abreu-Villaça, Y., and E. D. Levin. “Developmental neurobehavioral neurotoxicity of insecticides.” Handbook of Developmental Neurotoxicology, 2018, pp. 453–66. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-809405-1.00040-7. Full Text

Roegge, C. S., and E. D. Levin. “Nicotinic receptor antagonists in rats.” Animal Models of Cognitive Impairment, 2006, pp. 21–35.

Cerutti, D. T., and E. D. Levin. “Cognitive impairment models using complementary species.” Animal Models of Cognitive Impairment, 2006, pp. 315–42.

Levin, E. D., and J. J. Buccafusco. “Introduction.” Animal Models of Cognitive Impairment, 2006, pp. 1–2.

Levin, E. D. “Nicotinic systems: An integrated approach.” Nicotinic Receptors in the Nervous System, 2001, pp. 281–82.

Levin, E. D., and A. H. Rezvani. “Nicotinic involvement in cognitive function of rats.” Nicotinic Receptors in the Nervous System, 2001, pp. 167–78.


Hawkey, Andrew B., et al. “Persistent neurobehavioral and neurochemical anomalies in middle-aged rats after maternal diazinon exposure.Toxicology, vol. 472, Apr. 2022, p. 153189. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.tox.2022.153189. Full Text

Rezvani, Amir H., et al. “Time-dependent effects of nicotine on reversal of dizocilpine-induced attentional impairment in female rats.Pharmacol Biochem Behav, vol. 215, Apr. 2022, p. 173359. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2022.173359. Full Text

Joglekar, Rashmi, et al. “Developmental nicotine exposure and masculinization of the rat preoptic area.Neurotoxicology, vol. 89, Mar. 2022, pp. 41–54. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2022.01.005. Full Text

Levin, Edward D., et al. “Chronic infusions of mecamylamine into the medial habenula: Effects on nicotine self-administration in rats.Behav Brain Res, vol. 416, Jan. 2022, p. 113574. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113574. Full Text

Slotkin, Theodore A., et al. “Paternal Cannabis Exposure Prior to Mating, but Not Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, Elicits Deficits in Dopaminergic Synaptic Activity in the Offspring.Toxicol Sci, vol. 184, no. 2, Nov. 2021, pp. 252–64. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfab117. Full Text Open Access Copy

Levin, Edward D., et al. “Self-administration by female rats of low doses of nicotine alone vs. nicotine in tobacco smoke extract.Drug Alcohol Depend, vol. 228, Nov. 2021, p. 109073. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.109073. Full Text

Rezvani, Amir H., et al. “Differential behavioral functioning in the offspring of rats with high vs. low self-administration of the opioid agonist remifentanil.Eur J Pharmacol, vol. 909, Oct. 2021, p. 174407. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2021.174407. Full Text

Jao, Nancy C., et al. “Differences in Cognitive Task Performance, Reinforcement Enhancement, and Nicotine Dependence Between Menthol and Nonmenthol Cigarette Smokers.Nicotine Tob Res, vol. 23, no. 11, Oct. 2021, pp. 1902–10. Pubmed, doi:10.1093/ntr/ntab120. Full Text

Hawkey, Andrew B., et al. “Neurobehavioral anomalies in zebrafish after sequential exposures to DDT and chlorpyrifos in adulthood: Do multiple exposures interact?Neurotoxicol Teratol, vol. 87, Sept. 2021, p. 106985. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/j.ntt.2021.106985. Full Text


Levin, E. D. “What Can Fish Tell Us About Developmental Neurotoxic Risks of the Sea?Birth Defects Research, vol. 111, no. 9, WILEY, 2019, pp. 454–454.

Kollins, Scott, et al. “Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Exposure Alters Sperm Methylation Profiles: Concurrent Results From Humans and Rats.” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 42, NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017, pp. S642–43.

Murphy, S. K., et al. “Environment and Gametic Epigenetic Reprogramming.Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, vol. 58, WILEY, 2017, pp. S28–S28.

Levin, Edward D. “Neurodevelopmental Toxicity of Tobacco Smoke and Nicotine.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 61, PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2017, pp. 153–153.

Murphy, S. K., et al. “Environmental Influence on Preconceptional and Gestational DNA Methylation Profiles.Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, vol. 57, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016, pp. S39–S39.

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


Schrott, Rose, et al. Data from: Cannabinoid exposure and altered DNA methylation in rat and human sperm. 25 Aug. 2020. Manual, doi:10.7924/r4v122j79. Full Text