Addiction, drugs of abuse, brain development
2006 Athalie Clarke Research Award, University of California, Irvine
2008 Most highly cited original publication of 2004, Psychopharmacology
2012 UCI Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Mentoring of Undergraduate Research
2018 Women of Influence Orange County Lifetime Legacy Award
Frances Leslie, Ph.D., is a neuropharmacologist who is primarily interested in the effects of drugs of abuse on developing brain. Her research team uses an integrative range of experimental approaches, from molecular biology to animal behavior, to determine whether abused drugs have unique effects at various stages of brain development. The abused drugs currently under investigation include tobacco, cocaine and amphetamine. Although all stages of brain development are studied, two periods are of particular interest: the prenatal period and adolescence.
In order to identify mechanisms underlying the toxic effects of maternal drug use on the offspring, we are conducting a detailed analysis of the effects of drug exposure on fetal brain. The long-term consequences of fetal drug exposure on subsequent neurochemistry and behavior of adolescent and adult animals are examined. We are also currently studying the effects of therapeutic interventions, including anti-drug vaccines during pregnancy.
A major focus of the lab’s research is currently on analysis of drug responses during adolescence. Although most initiation of human drug use occurs during adolescence, it is not known whether this reflects social or biological factors. Our research team is evaluating acute and chronic effects of drugs during this developmental period, and the mechanisms underlying observed developmental differences. These groundbreaking studies suggest that many abused drugs have unique effects on adolescent brain.
Charles, S.T., Karnaze, M.M. and Leslie, F.M., 2021. Positive factors related to graduate student mental health. Journal of American college health, pp.1-9.
Leslie, F.M., 2020. Unique, long-term effects of nicotine on adolescent brain. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, p.173010.
Linker, K.E., Elabd, M.G., Tawadrous, P., Cano, M., Green, K.N., Wood, M.A. and Leslie, F.M., 2020. Microglial activation increases cocaine self-administration following adolescent nicotine exposure. Nature communications, 11(1), pp.1-14.
Linker, K.E., Cross, S.J. and Leslie, F.M., 2019. Glial mechanisms underlying substance use disorders. European Journal of Neuroscience, 50(3), pp.2574-2589.
Liu, S.S., Pickens, S., Burma, N.E., Ibarra-Lecue, I., Yang, H., Xue, L., Cook, C., Hakimian, J.K., Severino, A.L., Lueptow, L. and Komarek, K., 2019. Kappa opioid receptors drive a tonic aversive component of chronic pain. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(21), pp.4162-4178.
Cross, S.J., Lotfipour, S. and Leslie, F.M. (2017) Mechanisms and genetic factors underlying co-use of nicotine and alcohol or other drugs of abuse. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 43 (2), 171-185. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27532746
Cross, S.J., Linker, K. and Leslie, F.M. (2017) Sex dependent effects of nicotine on the developing brain. J. Neurosci. Res., 95: 422-436. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27870426
Role of non-nicotine tobacco smoke constituents in withdrawal and craving. NIH DA040440
Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE): Partnering in Leadership for Undergraduate Students (PLUS).
Society for Neuroscience
American Society for Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Vice Chancellor for Research
UC Irvine 1995—1998
Director, Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Center
UC Irvine 1999—2005
Associate Dean of the Graduate Division
UC Irvine 1997—1998
Dean of the Graduate Division
UC Irvine 1998—2019
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
UC Irvine 2014—2019