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Uri Shalev, PhD

Professor, Psychology

Uri Shalev, PhD
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5206
Website(s): CSBN website


Uri Shalev received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Tel Aviv University. After completing his postdoctoral training with Dr. Yavin Shaham at the National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH in 2002, he headed the behavioral laboratory in D-Pharm Ltd., Rehovot, Israel. At the same time, he was appointed a senior lecturer at the Academic College Tel Aviv-Yaffo. In 2004 he joined the Department of Psychology and the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology at Concordia University. He held a Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Drug Abuse (Tier II; 2004-2015).



Drug abuse, Relapse, Animal models, Behavioural neurobiology, Eating disorders


Using an animal model for drug self-administration, the research in my lab targets the brain mechanisms underlying the strikingly similar behaviors characterizing drug addiction and eating disorders. In addition, I am interested in the effects of early-life experiences on the development of mental disorders, susceptibility to drug abuse and eating disorders in the adult organism.

Drug abuse and eating disorders are having an increasing impact on Western Society. New and more effective treatments are only likely to be developed once the interaction between the neural systems that underlie these disorders are understood.

My research involves two main themes that are concerned with factors that promote and maintain substance abuse. The first arises from my previous work showing that food deprivation potently induced relapse to heroin and cocaine seeking in laboratory rats, and that this effect is attenuated by leptin, a hormone involved in appetite regulation and energy balance. These data indicate a link between substance abuse and eating control mechanisms. We use a model of food-restriction-induced relapse to drugs in rats that is based on the drug self-administration procedure. We then examine the brains of the manipulated rats in search of the mechanisms underlying the behavioral phenomena.

The second theme is concerned with the often-reported comorbidity of drug abuse with mental disorders, and more specifically, eating disorders. We are using activity-induce anorexia as a model for anorexia nervosa to study factors that affect vulnerability to drugs and natural rewards and identify changes in underlying neuromechanisms.

I am looking for enthusiastic candidates for the MA/PhD program that will join our team. For more information:


My research has been funded by grants from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Canada Research Chairs program (CRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Teaching activities

Courses taught in recent years

PSYC 355 - Fundamentals of Behavioural Neurobiology
PSYC 450 - Neurobiology of Drug Abuse
PSYC 491 - Honours Seminar
PSYC 714 - Central Topics in Psychology


Iriah S.C., Borges C.*, Shalev U., Cai X., Madularu D., Kulkarni P.P., Ferris C.F. The utility of maraviroc, the antiretroviral agent used to treat HIV, as treatment for opioid abuse?  Data from magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral testing in rats. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience[Accepted for publication, June 2021].

Chisholm A.*, Rizzo D.*, Fortin É.*, Moman V.*, Quteishat N.*, Romano A.*, Capolicchio T.*, Shalev U. Assessing the Role of Corticothalamic and Thalamo Accumbens Projections in the Augmentation of Heroin Seeking in Chronically Food-Restricted Rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 2021, 41, 354-365.

D’Cunha T.M.*, Chisholm A.*, Hryhorczuk, C., Fulton, S., Shalev U. A role for leptin and ghrelin in the augmentation of heroin seeking induced by chronic food restriction. Psychopharmacology, 2020, 237, 787-800.

Chisholm A.*, Iannuzzi J.*, Rizzo D.*, Gonzalez N.*, Fortin E.*, Bumbu A.*, Batallán A.A., Chapman C.A., Shalev U. The role of the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus in the augmentation of heroin seeking induced by chronic food restriction. Addiction Biology, 2020, 25, e12708.

Opiol H, de Zavalia N, Delorme T, Solis P, Rutherford S, Shalev U, Amir S (2017) Exploring the role of locomotor sensitization in the circadian food entrainment pathway. PLoS One 12:e0174113. [PubMed][Content]

Gallant S, Welch L, Martone P, Shalev U (2017) Effects of chronic prenatal MK-801 treatment on object recognition, cognitive flexibility, and drug-induced locomotor activity in juvenile and adult rat offspring. Behav Brain Res 328:62-69. [PubMed] [Content]

D'Cunha TM, Daoud E, Rizzo D, Bishop AB, Russo M, Mourra G, Hamel L, Sedki F, Shalev U (2017) Augmentation of heroin seeking following chronic food restriction in the rat: differential role for dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens shell and core. Neuropsychopharmacology 42:1136-1145. [PubMed] [Content]

Frenk H, Martin J, Vitouchanskaia C, Dar R, Shalev U (2017) Effects of contingent and noncontingent nicotine on lever pressing for liquids and consumption in water-deprived rats. Eur J Pharmacol 794:224-233. [PubMed] [Content]

Mahmud A, Gallant S, Sedki F, D'Cunha T, Shalev U (2017) Effects of an acute cannabidiol treatment on cocaine self-administration and cue-induced cocaine seeking in male rats. J Psychopharmacol 31:96-104. [PubMed] [Content]

Sedki F, Gardner Gregory J, Luminare A, D'Cunha TM, Shalev U (2015) Food restriction- induced augmentation of heroin seeking in female rats: manipulations of ovarian hormones. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 232:3773-3782. [Pubmed] [Content]

Sedki F, Eigenmann K, Gelinas J, Schouela N, Courchesne S, Shalev U (2015) A role for kappa-, but not mu-opioid, receptor activation in acute food deprivation-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats. Addict Biol 20:423-432. [Pubmed] [Content]

Sedki F, D'Cunha T, Shalev U (2013) A procedure to study the effect of prolonged food restriction on heroin seeking in abstinent rats. J Vis Exp 81:e50751. [PubMed] [Content]

Sedki F, Abbas Z, Angelis S, Martin J, D'Cunha T, Shalev U (2013) Is it stress? The role of stress related systems in chronic food restriction-induced augmentation of heroin seeking in the rat. Front Neurosci 7:98. [PubMed] [Content]

Tobin S, Sedki F, Abbas Z, Shalev U (2013) Antagonism of the dopamine D1-like receptor in mesocorticolimbic nuclei attenuates acute food deprivation-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats. Eur J Neurosci 37:972-981 [PubMed] [Content]

D’Cunha TM, Sedki F, Macri J, Casola C, Shalev U (2013) The effects of chronic food restriction on cue-induced heroin seeking in abstinent male rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 225:241– 250.[PubMed] [Content]

Maric T, Sedki F, Ronfard B, Chafetz D, Shalev U (2012) A limited role for ghrelin in heroin self-administration and food deprivation-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats. Addict Biol 17:613–622.  [PubMed]  [Content]

Shalev U (2012) Chronic food restriction augments the reinstatement of extinguished heroin-seeking behavior in rats. Addict Biol 17:691–693. [PubMed] [Content]

Maric T, Sedki F, Chafetz D, Schoela N, Shalev U (2011) A role for neuropeptide Y Y5 but not the Y1-receptor subtype in food deprivation-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in the rat. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 218:693–701. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Tylor A, Schuster K, Frate C, Tobin S, Woodside B (2010) Long-term physiological and behavioral effects of exposure to a highly palatable diet during the perinatal and post-weaning periods. Physiol Behav 101:494-502.[PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Erb S, Shaham Y (2010) Role of CRF and other neuropeptides in stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking. Brain Res 1314:15-28. [PubMed] [Content]

Maric T, Cantor A, Cuccioletta H, Tobin S, Shalev U (2009) Neuropeptide Y augments cocaine self-administration and cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion in rats. Peptides 30:721-726. [PubMed] [Content]

Tobin S, Newman AH, Quinn T, Shalev U (2009) A role for dopamine D1-like receptors in acute food deprivation-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 12:217- 226.[PubMed] [Content]

Maric T, Tobin S, Quinn T, Shalev U (2008) Food deprivation-like effects of neuropeptide Y on heroin self-administration and reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats. Behav Brain Res 194:39-43. [PubMed] [Content]

Levy D, Shabat-Simon M, Shalev U, Barnea-Ygael N, Cooper A, Zangen A (2007) Repeated electrical stimulation of reward-related brain regions affects cocaine but not "natural" reinforcement. J Neurosci 27:14179-14189. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Finnie PS, Quinn T, Tobin S, Wahi P (2006) A role for corticotropin-releasing factor, but not corticosterone, in acute food-deprivation-induced reinstatement of heroin seeking in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 187:376-384. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Robarts P, Shaham Y, Morales M (2003) Selective induction of c-Fos immunoreactivity in the prelimbic cortex during reinstatement of heroin seeking induced by acute food deprivation in rats. Behav Brain Res 145:79-88. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Marinelli M, Baumann MH, Piazza PV, Shaham Y (2003) The role of corticosterone in food deprivation-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in the rat. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 168:170-176. [PubMed] [Content]

Shaham Y, Shalev U, Lu L, De Wit H, Stewart J (2003) The reinstatement model of drug relapse: history, methodology and major findings. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 168:3-20. [PubMed] [Content]

Zangen A, Shalev U (2003) Nucleus accumbens beta-endorphin levels are not elevated by brain stimulation reward but do increase with extinction. Eur J Neurosci 17:1067-1072. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Kafkafi N (2002) Repeated maternal separation does not alter sucrose-reinforced and open-field behaviors. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 73:115-122. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Grimm JW, Shaham Y (2002) Neurobiology of relapse to heroin and cocaine seeking: a review. Pharmacol Rev 54:1-42. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Weiner I (2001) Gender-dependent differences in latent inhibition following prenatal stress and corticosterone administration. Behav Brain Res 126:57-63. [PubMed] [Content]

Highfield D, Yap Y, Grimm JW, Shalev U, Shaham Y (2001) Repeated lofexidine treatment attenuates stress-induced, but not drug cues-induced reinstatement of a heroin-cocaine mixture (speedball) seeking in rats. Neuropsychopharmacology 25:320-331. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Morales M, Hope B, Yap J, Shaham Y (2001) Time-dependent changes in extinction behavior and stress-induced reinstatement of drug seeking following withdrawal from heroin in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 156:98-107. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Yap J, Shaham Y (2001) Leptin attenuates acute food deprivation-induced relapse to heroin seeking. J Neurosci 21:RC129. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Highfield D, Yap J, Shaham Y (2000) Stress and relapse to drug seeking in rats: studies on the generality of the effect. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 150:337-346. [PubMed] [Content]

Lê AD, Harding S, Juzytsch W, Watchus J, Shalev U, Shaham Y (2000) The role of corticotrophin-releasing factor in stress-induced relapse to alcohol-seeking behavior in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 150:317-324. [PubMed] [Content]

Highfield D, Clements A, Shalev U, McDonald R, Featherstone R, Stewart J, Shaham Y (2000) Involvement of the medial septum in stress-induced relapse to heroin seeking in rats. Eur J Neurosci 12:1705-1713. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Feldon J, Weiner I (1998) Latent inhibition is disrupted by acute and repeated administration of corticosterone. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 1:103-113. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Feldon J, Weiner I (1998) Gender- and age-dependent differences in latent inhibition following pre-weaning non-handling: implications for a neurodevelopmental animal model of schizophrenia. Int J Dev Neurosci 16:279-288. [PubMed] [Content]

Vaid RR, Yee BK, Shalev U, Rawlins JN, Weiner I, Feldon J, Totterdell S (1997)Neonatal nonhandling and in utero prenatal stress reduce the density of NADPH-diaphorase-reactive neurons in the fascia dentata and Ammon's horn of rats. J Neurosci 17:5599-5609. [PubMed] [Content]

Shalev U, Feldon J, Weiner I (1997) The effects of chronic corticosterone administration on amphetamine-induced activity, spatial learning and latent inhibition (LI). Neurosci Lett 237:S45. [Content]

Gray JA, Joseph MH, Hemsley DR, Young AMJ, Warburton EC, Boulenguez P, Grigoryan GA, Peters SL, Rawlins JNP, Tai C-T, Yee BK, Cassaday H, Weiner I, Gal G, Gusak O, Joel D, Shadach E, Shalev U, Tarrasch R, Feldon J (1995) The role of mesolimbic dopaminergic and retrohippocampal afferents to the nucleus accumbens in latent inhibition: implication for schizophrenia. Behav Brain Res 71:19- 31. [Content]

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