Lei Yu

Distinguished Professor
SMH 107


Dr. Yu began genetic studies of brain disorders and behavior patterns when he joined faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine in 1988. He continued these studies subsequently at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, before joining faculty at Rutgers University in 2005, where he expanded his research area to include genetics of compulsive behaviors.

Current Research

  • Genetic predisposition to alcoholism, drug abuse, and other compulsive behaviors in human
  • Genetic factors influencing alcohol drinking in rodent models
  • Molecular mechanisms of neuro-sensory processes, including pain, stress, and analgesia
  • Genes involved in temperament in young children, including sensitivity to reward-based learning, anger, and sadness

Selected Publications

Tomie A, Samuel AG, Merchant A, Yu L (2016) The effects of proximal and distal social stimulation on ethanol intake in male and female CD-1 mice. J. Drug Alcohol Res. 5, doi:10.4303/jdar/235949.

Tomie A, Samuel AG, Sprung DM, Malul Y, Yu L (2015) Effects of number of cagemates on home-cage ethanol drinking during proximal cagemate drinking (PCD) procedures in male and female CD-1 mice. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 57:1-10.

Wang K, Song H, Jin M, Xiao H, Zhao G, Zou H, Yu L (2014) Chronic alcohol consumption from adolescence-to-adulthood in mice — Hypothalamic gene expression changes in insulin signaling pathway.  Alcohol 48:571-578.

Zou H, Wang K, Gao Y, Song H, Xie Q, Jin M, Zhao G, Xiao H, Yu L (2014) Chronic alcohol consumption from adolescence-to-adulthood in mice — Hypothalamic gene expression changes in the dilated cardiomyopathy signaling pathway.  BMC Neuroscience 15:61.

Tomie A, Defuria AA, Jones HA, Edwards SD, Yu L (2014) Effects of cagemate gender and the cagemate's access to ethanol on ethanol and water intake of the proximal male or the proximal female CD-1 mouse.  Alcohol 48:73-82.

Yu L (2014) Opioids, Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences. Elsevier. 18-Oct-2014 doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801238-3.00248-8

Tomie A, Azogu I, Yu L (2013) Effects of naltrexone on post-abstinence alcohol drinking in C57BL/6NCRL and DBA/2J mice. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 44:240-247.

Tomie A, Lincks M, Nadarajah SD, Pohorecky LA, Yu L (2012) Pairings of lever and food induce Pavlovian conditioned approach of sign-tracking and goal-tracking in C57BL/6 mice. Behav. Brain Res. 226:571-578.

Smelson DA, Yu L, Buyske S, Gonzalez G, Tischfield JA, Deutsch CK, Ziedonis D (2012) Genetic association of GABA-A receptor alpha-2 and mu opioid receptor with cocaine cue-reactivity: Evidence for inhibitory synaptic neurotransmission involvement in cocaine dependence. Am. J. Addict. 21:411-415.

Zhang YQ, Guo N, Peng G, Han M, Raincrow J, Chiu C, Coolen LM, Wenthold RJ, Zhao ZQ, Jing N, Yu L (2009) Role of SIP30 in the development and maintenance of peripheral nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain.  Pain 146:130-140.

Zou H, Xie Q, Zhang M, Zhang C, Zhao G, Jin M, Yu L (2009) Chronic alcohol consumption from adolescence to adulthood in mice — effect on growth and social behavior.  Drug Alcohol Depend. 104:119-125.

Zou H, Zhang C, Xie Q, Zhang M, Shi J, Jin M, Yu L (2008) Low dose MK-801 reduces social investigation in mice.  Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 90:753-757.

Qi C, Zou H, Zhang R, Zhao G, Jin M, Yu L (2008) Age-related differential sensitivity to MK-801-induced locomotion and stereotypy in C57BL/6 mice.  Eur. J. Pharmacol. 580:161-168.

Yates JW, Meij TAJ, Sullivan JR, Richtand NM, Yu L (2007) Bimodal effect of amphetamine on motor behaviors in C57BL/6 mice.  Neurosci. Lett. 427: 66-70.

Qi C, Zou H, Zhang CH, Xie Q, Jin M, Yu L (2006) Effect of GNTI, a kappa opioid receptor antagonist, on MK-801-induced hyperlocomotion and stereotypy in mice.  Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 27:1401-1408.

Tang Y, Zou H, Strong JA, Cui Y, Xie Q, Zhao G, Jin M, Yu L (2006) Paradoxical effects of very low dose MK-801.  Eur. J. Pharmacol. 537:77-84.

Strong JA, Dalvi A, Revilla FJ, Sahay A,  Samaha FJ, Welge JA, Gong J, Gartner M,  Yue X, Yu L (2006) Genotype and smoking history affect risk of levodopa-induced dyskinesias in Parkinson’s disease.  Movement Disorders 21:654-659.

Zhang XH, Zhang H, Tu YY, Gao X, Zhou C, Jin M, Zhao G, Jing NH, Li BM, Yu L (2005) Identification of a novel protein for memory regulation in the hippocampus.  Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 334:418-424.

Xie W, Strong JA, Meij JTA, Zhang JM, Yu L (2005) Neuropathic pain: Early spontaneous afferent activity is the trigger.  Pain 116:243-56.

Jin M, Wang X, Tu YY, Zhang X, Gao X, Guo N, Xie Z, Zhao G, Jing NH, Li BM, Yu L (2005) The negative cell cycle regulator, Tob (Transducer of ErbB-2), is a multifunctional protein involved in hippocampus-dependent learning and memory.  Neuroscience 131:647-659.

Wu J, Zou H, Strong JA, Yu J, Zhou X, Xie Q, Zhao G, Jin M, Yu L (2005) Bimodal effects of MK-801 on locomotion and stereotypy in C57BL/6 mice.  Psychopharmacol. 177:256-263.

Moalem G, Xu K, Yu L (2004) T lymphocytes play a role in neuropathic pain following peripheral nerve injury in rats.  Neuroscience 129:767-777.

Yu L (2004) Pharmacogenetics — The OPRM (mu-opioid receptor) gene. In The Genetics of Pain, J.S. Mogil eds.  IASP Press, pp. 239-254.


PhD, California Institute of Technology, Biology, 1987

MS, Institute of Genetics, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China, Molecular Genetics, 1981

BS, Wuxi College of Light Industry, Wuxi, China, Industrial Fermentation, 1979

Other Information

Courses Taught

  • Genetics of Compulsive Behavior
  • Harry Potter and Potion-Making Science