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Menglu Yuan

Menglu Yuan

Entered program Fall 2009
Advisor: Frances Leslie
Menglu is a doctoral candidate in Dr. Leslie's lab. She can be reached at

2009 - present: PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology, in progress
University of California, Irvine

2005 - 2009, BA, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Boston University

Research Experiencee

2010 - present
Investigating the effects of nicotine on adolescent brain development,
Mentor - Dr. Frances Leslie
University of California, Irvine School of Medicine

Determined the role of D-cycloserine on cocaine extinction learning,
Mentor - Dr. Kathleen Kantak
Boston University

2006 - 2008
Examined the roles of AMPAR and mGluR5 in cocaine addiction pathways,
Mentor - Dr. R. Christopher Pierce
Boston University School of Medicine

Research Interests

Menglu's dissertation investigates the link between tobacco, e-cigarettes, and adolescent addiction and how drugs create maladaptive changes in adolescent brain development.  She has found that nicotine (main psychoactive component of tobacco) and the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) enhance sensitivity to cocaine reward during adolescence.  Menglu is working to identify neurochemical changes mediating these drug effects, which may have long-lasting consequences for mental health and addiction.

Honors and Awards

2014-15 UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellow
2014-15 ASPET Washington Fellows Program
2014      Mentoring Excellence Program (Certified)
2014      Communications Trainer (Certified)
2014      Gallups Strengths-Based Business Development (Certified)
2013      Power Speech Communications (Certified)


Mojica C, Dao JM, Yuan M, Loughlin SE, Leslie FM (2014) Nicotine modulation of adolescent dopamine receptor signaling and hypothalamic peptide response. Neuropharmacology 77: 285-293.

Kumaresan V, Yuan M, Yee J, Famous KR, Anderson SM, Schmidt HD, Pierce RC (2009) Metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) antagonists attenuate cocaine priming- and cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking.  Behavioural Brain Research 22: 238-244.

Conference Presentations/Abstracts 

M. Yuan, A.M. Malagon, D. Yasuda, J.D. Belluzzi, F.M. Leslie, N.T. Zaveri.  The effect of AT-1001, a selective α3β4 nAChR functional antagonist, on nicotine withdrawal and stress+cue induced reinstatement in rats.  Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.  Washington, DC November 17, 2014.

M. Yuan, C.Y. Mojica, A.J. Cabrera, C.R. Scurrah, C. Duong, P.T. Tran, J.D. Belluzzi, F.M. Leslie.  Sensitization of D2 and 5-HT1A receptors mediate nicotine- and fluoxetine- induced alterations in adolescent dopaminergic drug responses.  Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.  San Diego, CA November 9, 2013.

M. Yuan, C.A. Feng, A.J. Cabrera, J.J. Zeng, J.D. Belluzzi, F.M. Leslie. Attenuation of nicotine-induced alterations in dopamine signaling during adolescence via 5-HT1A receptor antagonism.  Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.  New Orleans, LA October 17, 2012.

M. Yuan, A.J. Cabrera, C.A. Feng, J.D. Belluzzi, F.M. Leslie.  Fluoxetine activation of 5-HT1A receptors induces alterations in dopamine receptor signaling during adolescence.  Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.  Washington, DC November 2011.

Other Interests

American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) - Graduate Student Member

Society for Neuroscience - Graduate Student Member

Investigating the effects of nicotine on adolescent brain development

Mentor – Dr. Frances Leslie