Erica Levitt, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pharmacology
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology

Areas of Interest

Opioids, neural control of breathing, electrophysiology

Honors & Awards

2022       ASPET Neuropharmacology Early Career Award
2021       New Investigator Award, Respiration Section, American Physiological Society
2020       Exemplary Teacher Award, University of Florida, College of Medicine
2015       Usha Award, American Physiological Society, Respiration Section
2015-21  K99/R00 NIH Pathway to Independence Award
2014       Junior investigator best poster award, Winter Conference on Brain Research
2012-14  NIH Post-doctoral Individual NRSA (F32 DA33036)
2011-15  International Narcotics Research Conference Travel Award
2010-11  Training Program in Neuronal Signaling (T32 NS07381)
2008-10  NIH Pre-doctoral Individual NRSA (F31 DA23339)


PhD, Pharmacology, University of Michigan
PharmD, Ohio Northern University
Postdoctoral Training
Post-doctoral Fellow, Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University


NIH/NIDA R01 DA047976, 4/1/2019-1/31/2024
Title: Neural basis of opioid-induced respiratory depression
International Rett Syndrome Foundation 2/1/19-9/30/21
Title: Effect of Positive Allosteric Modulation of Dopamine D2 Receptors on Respiration in Mouse models of Rett Syndrome

Published Articles or Reviews

Saunders SE, Baekey DM and Levitt ES (2022) Fentanyl effects on respiratory neuron activity in the dorsolateral pons. J Neurophysiol 128:1117-1132. PMID: 36197016 

Maletz SN*, Reid BT*, Varga AG and Levitt ES (2022) Nucleus tractus solitarius neurons activated by hypercapnia and hypoxia lack mu opioid receptor expression. Front Mol Neurosci 15:932189. PMID: 35898697

Varga AG, Whitaker-Fornek JR, Maletz SN and Levitt ES (2022) Activation of Orexin-2 Receptors in the Kölliker-Fuse nucleus of anesthetized mice leads to transient slowing of respiratory rate. Front Physiol 13:977569. PMID: 36406987

Bateman JT and Levitt ES. (2022) Opioid Suppression of an Excitatory Pontomedullary Respiratory Circuit by Convergent Mechanisms. BioRxiv 

Bateman JT and Levitt ES (2021) Evaluation of G protein bias and β-arrestin 2 signaling in opioid-induced respiratory depression. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 321:C681-C683. PMID: 34469203

Bateman JT*, Saunders SE* and Levitt ES (2021) Understanding and countering opioid-induced respiratory depression. Brit J Pharmacol PMID:34089181

Ramirez JM, Burgraff NJ, Wei AD, Baertsch NA, Varga AG, Baghdoyan HA, Lydic R, Morris KF, Bolser DC, Levitt ES (2021) Neuronal mechanisms underlying opioid induced respiratory depression: Our current understanding. J Neurophysiol 125:1899-1919. PMID:33826874

Varga AG, Maletz SN, Bateman JT, Reid BT and Levitt ES (2021) Neurochemistry of the Kölliker-Fuse nucleus from a respiratory perspective. J Neurochem 156:16-37. PMID:32396650

Tadjalli A, Seven YB, Sharma A, McCurdy CR, Bolser DC, Levitt ES and Mitchell GS (2021) Acute morphine blocks spinal respiratory motor plasticity via long-latency mechanisms that require toll-like receptor 4 signaling J Physiol 599:3771-3797. PMID: 34142718  [Selected as Editor’s Choice]

Varga AG, Reid BT, Kieffer BL and Levitt ES (2020) Differential impact of two critical respiratory centers in opioid-induced respiratory depression in awake mice. J Physiol 598:189-205. PMID:31589332 [Selected as Editor's Choice and published in special issue "Experimental Biology 2020"]

Saunders SE and Levitt ES (2020) Kölliker-Fuse/Parabrachial complex mu opioid receptors contribute to fentanyl-induced apnea and respiratory rate depression. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 275:103388. PMID:3195324

Kliewer A, Schmiedel F, Sianati S, Bailey A, Bateman JT, Levitt ES, Williams JT, Christie MJ and Schulz S (2019) Enhanced opioid analgesia and loss of tolerance but exacerbation of side effects in mice expressing phosphorylation-deficient, G protein-biased mu receptors. Nat Commun 10:367. PMID:30664663

Levitt ES and Williams JT (2018) Desensitization and tolerance of mu opioid receptors on pontine Kölliker-Fuse neurons. Mol Pharmacol 93:8-13. PMID:29097440

Levitt ES, Abdala AP, Paton JFR, Bissonnette JM and Williams JT (2015) Mu opioid receptor activation hyperpolarizes respiratory-controlling Kölliker-Fuse neurons and suppresses post-inspiratory drive. J Physiol 593:4453-4469. PMID:26175072  [Recommended by Faculty of 1000.]


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