Amir Rezvani, Ph.D.

Photo of Amir Rezvani

Phone: 919-668-1880

Dept. of Psychiatry
Box 104790
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

Email: azadi AT duke DOT edu

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Director of the Addiction Division


Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Division of Biological Psychiatry, School of Medicine

DIBS Faculty

Research Description

My research and teaching interests have been primarily focused on the following areas:

Alcoholism: I work with "alcoholic" rats with genetic predisposition!" We use selectively-bred alcohol preferring rats as an animal model of human alcoholism for developing better pharmacological treatments for alcoholism. Recently, we are working on several novel promising "anti-craving" compounds for the treatment of alcoholism. We are also studying the interaction between alcohol drinking and nicotine intake.

Nicotine Addiction: We have been studying age and sex differences in i.v. nicotine self-administration in rats. We have found that pattern of drug taking is both age- and sex-dependent. Our lab is also exploring different neuronal targets for developing better pharmacologic treatment for nicotine addiction.

Sustained Attention: Another aspect of our research is studying the role of the neuronal nicotinic and other neuronal systems in attention using a rodent model. We have shown that nicotine (not smoking!) and nicotinic compounds improve attention in rats. A majority of people with schizophrenia smoke and they smoke heavily. Thus, it is important to understand the interaction of antipsychotic medications and nicotine in attention. This has been another aspect of our research with interesting results. Presently, we are testing novel nicotinic compounds for improving pharmacologically-impaired attention.

Teaching: I love to teach and interact with students. Since arriving at Duke in 1999, I have been teaching the popular alcohol course (Psych 206; Alcohol: Brain, Society and Individual). I also enjoy mentoring undergrad and graduate students who are interested in science and enjoy working in the lab with cute little creatures!

Community: I am the president of the Triangle Chapter of the Society for Neuroscienec (SfN) and a member of the Board of Directors of Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA), a therapeutic community in Durham. I also give seminars and workshops on addiction around the country.

Hobbies: Persian Poetry, Philosophy, Music and FB!!


Postdoctoral Fellow, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 1983-1985

Ph.D., University of Illinois, Physiology and Biophysics, 1983

M.S., The University of Central Missouri, Biology, 1978

M.S.Ed., Tehran University (Iran), Biology, 1976

B.S., Tehran University (Iran), Biology, 1970

Recent Publications

Rezvani AH, Levin ED. Effects of anabasine, a tobacco smoke constituent, on alcohol consumption in female alcohol preferring (P) rats. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, 3:1-6, 2014.

Rezvani AH, Levin ED. Lorcaserin, a selective 5-HT2C receptor agonist, decreases alcohol intake in female alcohol preferring rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 125:8-14, 2014.

Levin ED, Hao I, Burke B, Cauley M, Hall BJ, Rezvani AH. Effects of tobacco smoke constituents, anabasine and anatabine, on memory and attention in female rats. Journal of Psychopharmacology 28:915-922, 2014.

Rezvani AH, Levin ED. Assessment of pregnenolone effects on alcohol intake and preference in male alcohol preferring (P) rats. European Journal of Pharmacology 740:53-57, 2014.

Edward D Levin, Corinne Wells, Joshua E Johnson, Amir H. Rezvani,Frank P. Bymaster, Jed E. Rose. Amitifadine, a triple monoamine re-uptake inhibitor, reduces nicotine self-administration in female rats. . European Journal of Pharmacology (In Press, 2015).

Rezvani AH, Cauley M, Xiao Y, Kellar KJ, Levin ED. Effects of chronic sazetidine-A, a selective α4β2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors desensitizing agent on pharmacologically-induced impaired attention in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 226:35-43, 2013.

Rezvani AH, HG Sexton, J Johnson, C Wells, K Gordon and ED Levin. Effects of caffeine on alcohol consumption and nicotine self-administration in rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37: 1609-1617, 2013.

Liu Y, Richardson J, Tran T, Al-Muhtasib N, Xie T, Yenugonda VM, Sexton HG, Rezvani AH, Levin ED, Sahibzada N, Kellar KJ, Brown ML, Xiao Y, Paige M.Liu, Chemistry and pharmacological studies of 3-alkoxy-2,5-disubstituted-pyridinyl compounds as novel selective α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ligands that reduce alcohol intake in rats. J Med Chem. 56:3000-3011, 2013.

Yenugonda, Venkata; Xiao, Yingxian; Levin, Edward; Rezvani, Amir H.; Tran, Thao; Al-Muhtasib, Nour; Sahibzada, Niaz; Xie, Teressa; Wells, Corinne; Slade, Susan; Johnson, Joshua; Kong, Hyesik; Dakshanamurthy, Sivanesan; Tomita, York; Liu, Yong; Paige, Mikell; Kellar, Kenneth; Brown, Milton. Design, synthesis and discovery of picomolar selective α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ligands. J. Medicinal Chemistry, 56:8402-8421, 2013.

Galici R, Rezvani AH, Aluisio L, Lord B, Levin ED, Fraser I, Boggs J, Shoblock J, Motley T, Letavic MA, Carruthers NI, Dugovic C, Lovenberg TW, Bonaventure P. JNJ-39220675, a novel selective histamine H3 receptor antagonist, reduces the abuse-related effects of alcohol in rats. Psychopharmacology 214:829-841, 2011.

Cippitelli A, Rezvani AH, Robinson E, Eisenberg L, Levin ED, Bonaventure P, Motley T, Lovenberg T, Heilig M, Thorsell A. The novel, selective, brain penetrant NPY Y2 receptor antagonist, JHJ-31020028, tested in animal models of alcohol consumption, relapse, and anxiety. Alcohol 45: 567-576, 2011.

Rezvani AH, Cauley M, Sexton, H, Xiao Y, Brown M, Paige M, McDowell B, Kellar K, Levin, ED. Sazetidine-A, a selective α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor ligand: effects on dizocilpine and scopolamine-induced attentional impairments in female Sprague Dawley rats. Psychopharmacology 215:621-630, 2011.

Levin ED, Bushnell PJ, Rezvani AH. Attention-modulating effects of cognitive enhancers. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 99:146-154, 2011.

Levin ED, Slade S, Wells C, Cauley M, Petro A, Vendittelli A, Johnson , Williams P, Horton K, Rezvani AH (2011). Threshold of adulthood for the onset of nicotine self-administration in male and female rats. Behavioral Brain Research 225:473-481.

Bartley CP, Rezvani AH (2012). Alcohol and cognition – Consideration of age on initiation, usage pattern and gender: A brief review. Current Drug Abuse Review 5:87-97.

Rezvani AH, Lawrence AJ, Arolfo MP, Levin ED, Overstreet DH (2012) Novel medication targets for the treatment of alcoholism using inbred and outbred alcohol preferring rat models. Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery.7:151-162.

Schramm-Sapyta, NL, Kingsley MA, Rezvani AH, Propst K, Swartzwelder HS, Kuhn CM. Early ethanol consumption predicts relapse-like behavior in adolescent male rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 32:754-762, 2008.

Rezvani AH, Kholdebarin E, Cauley MC, Dawson E, Levin ED. Attenuation of pharmacologically-induced attentional impairment by methylphenidate in rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 92:141-146, 2009.

Rezvani AH, Kholdebarin E, Brucato FH, Callahan PM, Lowe DA, Levin ED. Effects of R3487/MEM3454, a novel nicotinic α7 receptor partial agonist and 5-HT antagonist on sustained attention in rats. Progress in Neuro-Psychiatry & Biological Psychiatry 33:269-275, 2009.

Rezvani AH, Overstreet DH, Vaidya AH, Zhao B, Levin ED. Carisbamate, a novel antiepileptic candidate compound, attenuates alcohol intake in alcohol preferring rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 33: 1366-1377, 2009.

Levin Ed, Rezvani AH, Xiao Y, Slade S, Cauley M, Wells C, Petro A, Hampton D, Petro A, Rose JE, , Brown ML, Paige MA, McDowell BE, Kellar KJ. Sazetidine-A, a selective 42 nicotinic receptor desensitizing agent and partial agonist, reduces nicotine self-administration in rats. J. Pharmacol Exp Ther 332:933-939, 2010.

Rezvani AH, Slade S, Wells C, Petro A, Lumeng L, Li TK, Xiao Y, Brown ML,Paige MA, McDowell BE, Rose JE, Kellar KJ, Levin ED. Effects of Sazetidine-A, a selective 42 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor desensitizing agent on both alcohol and nicotine self-administration in selectively-bred alcohol preferring rats. Psychopharmacology 211:161-174, 2010.

Rezvani AH, Sexton H, Levin ED. Persistent high alcohol consumption in alcohol preferring P rats results from a lack of normal aversion after forced alcohol exposure. Alcohol and Alcoholism 45:219-222, 2010.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Alcoholism, nicotine addiction
  • Cognition, drug development
  • Drug Addiction