Francesco Leri

Associate Dean Research & Graduate Studies for CSAHS
Neuroscience & Applied Cognitive Science
519-824-4120 x 58264
MacDonal Institute (MINS)
Office Hours: 

Bi-weekly, Thursday 10:30 - 11:30, on Microsoft Teams (


Accepting Graduate Students: 
Accepting New Experiential Learning Students: 

Updated March 2022

Dr. Francesco Leri is full Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph.

His general area of expertise is Behavioural Pharmacology and Neuroscience.  Dr. Leri investigates psychological and neuropharmacological mechanisms involved in the development, persistence and recurrence of behaviours reinforced by chemical (cocaine, heroin, oxycodone) and natural (monosaccharaides and disaccharides) rewards.  Through psychological (i.e., conditioning), pharmacological and neurobiological experimentations in laboratory animals, his studies have been providing basic scientific knowledge critical to the understanding of learning and memory processes, reinforcement mechanisms, as well as addictions and their pharmacological treatments. Current projects are focussed on psychobiology of conditioned reinforcers (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada). Dr. Leri is actively involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching and research supervision, and he is currently serving as Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.


The laboratory of Dr. Leri typically offers 2 research positions x term  for undergraduate students completing NEUR, PSYC or BIOM research internship courses.  There are no positions for volunteers.

These course-based research positions are quite competitive. That is, selected students tend to display a high record of academic performance (> 85% overall average), appropriate academic background (courses in Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology, Learning and Statistics), as well as a strong desire to pursue post-graduate degrees in Neuroscience, Psychology, Medicine or associated disciplines. 

To be considered for one of these courses in upcoming terms, e-mail statement of interest and unofficial copy of  transcripts. 


Dr. Francesco Leri is a full Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph.  

At the University of Guelph, he has 3 main responsibilities: Professor in Psychology, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Memory and Mental Health, and Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. 

First, as Professor in the Department of Psychology, he teaches and mentors undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows. He has taught courses such as Principles of Learning, Research Methods, and Neurochemical Basis of Behaviour. Since the beginning of his academic appointment in 2002, he has taught over 40 undergraduate courses (enrolments between 60 and 300 students) and graduated 23 Masters and 9 PhDs.

Second, as Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Memory and Mental Health, he leads a research team investigating psychological and neuropharmacological mechanisms involved in the development, persistence and recurrence of behaviours reinforced by chemical (cocaine, heroin, oxycodone) and natural (monosaccharaides and disaccharides) rewards. Through psychological (i.e., conditioning), pharmacological and neurobiological experimentations in laboratory animals, his studies have been providing basic scientific knowledge critical to the understanding of hedonic processes, reinforcement mechanisms, as well as addictions and their long-term treatments. Current projects are: the psychobiology of conditioned reinforcers and biomarkers of depression.

The research funded by his Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is aimed at studying basic mechanisms of learning, memory and motivation. As well, funded by an Integrated Discovery Grant from the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), his laboratory at Guelph is part of the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND; The CAN-BIND research program investigates and identifies biomarkers that help to predict outcomes in patients with major depression treated with antidepressant medications. The CAN-BIND research program is comprised of 12 Canadian teams, and Leri is the Pre-Clinical Lead, heading pre-clinical (i.e., animal models) research at the University of Guelph.

His current (March 2022) h-index is 31.

In Jan 2019, Francesco Leri was appointed Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. The departments (Family Relations & Applied Nutrition, Geography, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology & Anthropology), centres (Centre for Psychological Services, Couple and Family Therapy Centre, Live Work Well Research Centre, ReVision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice), institutes (Guelph Institute of Development Studies, Community Engaged Scholarship Institute) and other units within Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph explore a wide range of academic subjects. As Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, he provides leadership within the research activities of the College, including implementation and revision of the college research plan, mentoring new faculty, analysis of research space needs and priorities, and leadership and oversight of existing (and emerging) research collaborations, initiatives and centres.

Dr. Leri also fills several service roles in his professional milieu and community. Most notable roles are: representative of the Canadian Departments of Psychology at the Canadian Council on Animal Care; Past-President elect of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology; and Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th Field Artillery Regiment, The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, Canadian Armed Forces.


Undergraduate (1990-1993): Experimental Psychology, McGill University, Montreal

Graduate (1993-1999): Master (Dr. M. Petrides) and PhD (Dr. K.B.J. Franklin) in Experimental Psychology, McGill University, Montreal

Post-Graduate (1999-2002): Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology (Dr. J. Stewart) Concordia University, Montreal

Executive (2018-2020): Certificate of Management Excellence, Harvard Business School, Boston

Selected Publications

Updated: Oct 2022

Islam F, Marshe VS, Magarbeh L, Frey BN, Milev RV, Soares CN, Parikh SV,
Placenza F, Strother SC, Hassel S, Taylor VH, Leri F, Blier P, Uher R, Farzan F,
Lam RW, Turecki G, Foster JA, Rotzinger S, Kennedy SH, Müller DJ. Effects of
CYP2C19 and CYP2D6 gene variants on escitalopram and aripiprazole treatment
outcome and serum levels: results from the CAN-BIND 1 study. Transl Psychiatry.
2022 Sep 6;12(1):366. doi: 10.1038/s41398-022-02124-4. PMID: 36068210; PMCID:

Melanson B, Wolter M, Leatham Z, Lapointe T, Kennedy S, Leri F. Conditioned
anti-immobility by ketamine: A comparison to escitalopram and bupropion. Exp
Clin Psychopharmacol. 2022 Apr 25. doi: 10.1037/pha0000573. Epub ahead of print.
PMID: 35467924.

Wang S, Leri F, Rizvi SJ. Clinical and Preclinical Assessments of Anhedonia
in Psychiatric Disorders. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2022;58:3-21. doi:
10.1007/7854_2022_318. PMID: 35435647.

Baidoo N, Leri F. Inhibition of noradrenergic and corticotrophin-releasing
factor systems: Effects on enhancement of memory consolidation by unconditioned
and conditioned heroin withdrawal. Neuropharmacology. 2022 May 15;209:109018.
doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2022.109018. Epub 2022 Feb 28. PMID: 35240132.

Baidoo N, Leri F. Extended amygdala, conditioned withdrawal and memory
consolidation. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2022 Mar 8;113:110435.
doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2021.110435. Epub 2021 Sep 9. PMID: 34509531.

Melanson B, Leri F. Effect of ketamine on the physiological responses to
combined hypoglycemic and psychophysical stress. IBRO Neurosci Rep. 2021 Aug
23;11:81-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ibneur.2021.08.002. PMID: 34485972; PMCID:

Daniels S, Lemaire D, Lapointe T, Limebeer C, Parker L, Leri F. Effects of
inescapable stress on responses to social incentive stimuli and modulation by
escitalopram. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2021 Nov;238(11):3239-3247. doi:
10.1007/s00213-021-05940-6. Epub 2021 Jul 30. PMID: 34328518.

Ayoub SM, Piscitelli F, Silvestri C, Limebeer CL, Rock EM, Smoum R, Farag M,
de Almeida H, Sullivan MT, Lacroix S, Boubertakh B, Nallabelli N, Lichtman AH,
Leri F, Mechoulam R, Di Marzo V, Parker LA. Spontaneous and Naloxone-
Precipitated Withdrawal Behaviors From Chronic Opiates are Accompanied by
Changes in <i>N</i>-Oleoylglycine and <i>N</i>-Oleoylalanine Levels in the Brain
and Ameliorated by Treatment With These Mediators. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Sep
15;12:706703. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.706703. PMID: 34603019; PMCID: PMC8479102.

Wolter M, Lapointe T, Melanson B, Baidoo N, Francis T, Winters BD, Leri F.
Memory enhancing effects of nicotine, cocaine, and their conditioned stimuli;
effects of beta-adrenergic and dopamine D2 receptor antagonists.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2021 Sep;238(9):2617-2628. doi:
10.1007/s00213-021-05884-x. Epub 2021 Jun 26. PMID: 34175982.

Wang S, Leri F, Rizvi SJ. Anhedonia as a central factor in depression: Neural
mechanisms revealed from preclinical to clinical evidence. Prog
Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2021 Aug 30;110:110289. doi:
10.1016/j.pnpbp.2021.110289. Epub 2021 Feb 23. PMID: 33631251.

Minhas M, Limebeer CL, Strom E, Parker LA, Leri F. High fructose corn syrup
alters behavioural and neurobiological responses to oxycodone in rats. Pharmacol
Biochem Behav. 2021 Jun;205:173189. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2021.173189. Epub 2021
Apr 15. PMID: 33845083.

Horman T, Ayoub S, Leri F. Evidence of hypoglycemic anhedonia and modulation
by bupropion in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2021 Apr;203:173120. doi:
10.1016/j.pbb.2021.173120. Epub 2021 Jan 23. PMID: 33497714.

Melanson B, Lapointe T, Leri F. Impact of impaired glucose metabolism on
responses to a psychophysical stressor: modulation by ketamine.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2021 Apr;238(4):1005-1015. doi:
10.1007/s00213-020-05748-w. Epub 2021 Jan 6. PMID: 33404733.

Lapointe T, Wolter M, Leri F. Analysis of memory modulation by conditioned
stimuli. Learn Mem. 2021 Feb 16;28(3):87-94. doi: 10.1101/lm.052407.120. PMID:
33593927; PMCID: PMC7888238.

Baidoo N, Wolter M, Holahan MR, Teale T, Winters B, Leri F. The effects of
morphine withdrawal and conditioned withdrawal on memory consolidation and c-Fos
expression in the central amygdala. Addict Biol. 2021 Mar;26(2):e12909. doi:
10.1111/adb.12909. Epub 2020 May 17. PMID: 32418296.

Ayoub SM, Smoum R, Farag M, Atwal H, Collins SA, Rock EM, Limebeer CL,
Piscitelli F, Iannotti FA, Lichtman AH, Leri F, Di Marzo V, Mechoulam R, Parker
LA. Oleoyl alanine (HU595): a stable monomethylated oleoyl glycine interferes
with acute naloxone precipitated morphine withdrawal in male rats.
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020 Sep;237(9):2753-2765. doi:
10.1007/s00213-020-05570-4. Epub 2020 Jun 16. PMID: 32556401.

Ayoub SM, Minhas M, Lapointe T, Limebeer CL, Parker LA, Leri F. Effects of
high fructose corn syrup on ethanol self-administration in rats. Alcohol. 2020
Sep;87:79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2020.05.003. Epub 2020 Jun 1. PMID:

Baidoo N, Wolter M, Leri F. Opioid withdrawal and memory consolidation.
Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Jul;114:16-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.03.029.
Epub 2020 Apr 12. PMID: 32294487.

Horman T, Fernandes MF, Tache MC, Hucik B, Mutch DM, Leri F. Dietary
<i>n</i>-6/<i>n</i>-3 Ratio Influences Brain Fatty Acid Composition in Adult
Rats. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 21;12(6):1847. doi: 10.3390/nu12061847. PMID:
32575852; PMCID: PMC7353285.

Wolter M, Huff AE, Baidoo N, Jardine KH, Pulles Z, Winters BD, Leri F.
Modulation of object memory consolidation by heroin and heroin-conditioned
stimuli: Role of opioid and noradrenergic systems. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol.
2020 Apr;33:146-157. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.01.010. Epub 2020 Feb 14.
PMID: 32067860.

Daniels S, Horman T, Lapointe T, Melanson B, Storace A, Kennedy SH, Frey BN,
Rizvi SJ, Hassel S, Mueller DJ, Parikh SV, Lam RW, Blier P, Farzan F, Giacobbe
P, Milev R, Placenza F, Soares CN, Turecki G, Uher R, Leri F. Reverse
translation of major depressive disorder symptoms: A framework for the
behavioural phenotyping of putative biomarkers. J Affect Disord. 2020 Feb
15;263:353-366. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.11.108. Epub 2019 Nov 23. PMID:

Storace A, Daniels S, Zhou Y, Kalisch B, Parker L, Rock E, Limebeer C,
Lapointe T, Leri F. A study of limbic brain derived neurotrophic factor gene
expression in male Sprague-Dawley rats trained on a learned helplessness task.
Behav Brain Res. 2019 Dec 30;376:112174. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112174. Epub
2019 Aug 23. PMID: 31449911.

Ju C, Fiori LM, Belzeaux R, Theroux JF, Chen GG, Aouabed Z, Blier P, Farzan
F, Frey BN, Giacobbe P, Lam RW, Leri F, MacQueen GM, Milev R, Müller DJ, Parikh
SV, Rotzinger S, Soares CN, Uher R, Li Q, Foster JA, Kennedy SH, Turecki G.
Integrated genome-wide methylation and expression analyses reveal functional
predictors of response to antidepressants. Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Oct
8;9(1):254. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0589-0. PMID: 31594917; PMCID: PMC6783543.

Lapointe T, Hudson R, Daniels S, Melanson B, Zhou Y, Leri F. Effects of
combined escitalopram and aripiprazole in rats: role of the 5-HT<sub>1a</sub>
receptor. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2019 Jul;236(7):2273-2281. doi:
10.1007/s00213-019-05225-z. Epub 2019 Mar 22. Erratum in: Psychopharmacology
(Berl). 2019 May 22;: PMID: 30903210.

Zhou Y, Leri F, Low MJ, Kreek MJ. Sex differences in the effect of bupropion
and naltrexone combination on alcohol drinking in mice. Pharmacol Biochem Behav.
2019 Jun;181:28-36. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 Apr 13. PMID:
30991059; PMCID: PMC6545156.

Belzeaux R, Fiori LM, Lopez JP, Boucekine M, Boyer L, Blier P, Farzan F,
Frey BN, Giacobbe P, Lam RW, Leri F, MacQueen GM, Milev R, Müller DJ, Parikh SV,
Rotzinger S, Soares CN, Uher R, Foster JA, Kennedy SH, Turecki G. Predicting
Worsening Suicidal Ideation With Clinical Features and Peripheral Expression of
Messenger RNA and MicroRNA During Antidepressant Treatment. J Clin Psychiatry.
2019 May 7;80(3):18m12556. doi: 10.4088/JCP.18m12556. PMID: 31087825.

Kennedy SH, Lam RW, Rotzinger S, Milev RV, Blier P, Downar J, Evans KR,
Farzan F, Foster JA, Frey BN, Giacobbe P, Hall GB, Harkness KL, Hassel S, Ismail
Z, Leri F, McInerney S, MacQueen GM, Minuzzi L, Müller DJ, Parikh SV, Placenza
FM, Quilty LC, Ravindran AV, Sassi RB, Soares CN, Strother SC, Turecki G,
Vaccarino AL, Vila-Rodriguez F, Yu J, Uher R; CAN-BIND Investigator Team.
Symptomatic and Functional Outcomes and Early Prediction of Response to
Escitalopram Monotherapy and Sequential Adjunctive Aripiprazole Therapy in
Patients With Major Depressive Disorder: A CAN-BIND-1 Report. J Clin Psychiatry.
2019 Feb 5;80(2):18m12202. doi: 10.4088/JCP.18m12202. PMID: 30840787.

Wolter M, Huff E, Speigel T, Winters BD, Leri F. Cocaine, nicotine, and
their conditioned contexts enhance consolidation of object memory in rats. Learn
Mem. 2019 Jan 16;26(2):46-55. doi: 10.1101/lm.048579.118. PMID: 30651377; PMCID:

Horman T, Fernandes MF, Zhou Y, Fuller B, Tigert M, Leri F. An exploration
of the aversive properties of 2-deoxy-D-glucose in rats. Psychopharmacology
(Berl). 2018 Oct;235(10):3055-3063. doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-4998-1. Epub 2018
Aug 15. PMID: 30112578.

Thériault RK, Leri F, Kalisch B. The role of neuronal nitric oxide synthase
in cocaine place preference and mu opioid receptor expression in the nucleus
accumbens. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Sep;235(9):2675-2685. doi:
10.1007/s00213-018-4961-1. Epub 2018 Jul 10. PMID: 29992335.

Levy A, Daniels S, Hudson R, Horman T, Flynn A, Zhou Y, Leri F. Bupropion
and naltrexone combination alters high fructose corn syrup self-administration
and gene expression in rats. Neuropharmacology. 2018 Jun;135:547-554. doi:
10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.01.035. PMID: 29408463.

Daniels S, Pratt M, Zhou Y, Leri F. Effect of steady-state methadone on high
fructose corn syrup consumption in rats. J Psychopharmacol. 2018
Feb;32(2):215-222. doi: 10.1177/0269881117742116. Epub 2017 Dec 6. PMID:

Baskaran A, Farzan F, Milev R, Brenner CA, Alturi S, Pat McAndrews M, Blier
P, Evans K, Foster JA, Frey BN, Giacobbe P, Lam RW, Leri F, MacQueen GM, Müller
DJ, Parikh SV, Rotzinger S, Soares CN, Strother SC, Turecki G, Kennedy SH; CAN-
BIND Investigators Team. The comparative effectiveness of
electroencephalographic indices in predicting response to escitalopram therapy
in depression: A pilot study. J Affect Disord. 2018 Feb;227:542-549. doi:
10.1016/j.jad.2017.10.028. Epub 2017 Nov 3. PMID: 29169123.

Fernandes MF, Tache MC, Klingel SL, Leri F, Mutch DM. Safflower (n-6) and
flaxseed (n-3) high-fat diets differentially regulate hypothalamic fatty acid
profiles, gene expression, and insulin signalling. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent
Fatty Acids. 2018 Jan;128:67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2017.12.002. Epub 2017 Dec
8. PMID: 29413363.

Hudson R, Zhou Y, Leri F. The combination of escitalopram and aripiprazole:
Investigation of psychomotor effects in rats. J Psychopharmacol. 2017
Dec;31(12):1605-1614. doi: 10.1177/0269881117732515. Epub 2017 Oct 26. PMID:

Lopez JP, Fiori LM, Cruceanu C, Lin R, Labonte B, Cates HM, Heller EA,
Vialou V, Ku SM, Gerald C, Han MH, Foster J, Frey BN, Soares CN, Müller DJ,
Farzan F, Leri F, MacQueen GM, Feilotter H, Tyryshkin K, Evans KR, Giacobbe P,
Blier P, Lam RW, Milev R, Parikh SV, Rotzinger S, Strother SC, Lewis CM,
Aitchison KJ, Wittenberg GM, Mechawar N, Nestler EJ, Uher R, Kennedy SH, Turecki
G. MicroRNAs 146a/b-5 and 425-3p and 24-3p are markers of antidepressant
response and regulate MAPK/Wnt-system genes. Nat Commun. 2017 May 22;8:15497.
doi: 10.1038/ncomms15497. PMID: 28530238; PMCID: PMC5477510.

Pinelli CJ, Leri F, Turner PV. Long Term Physiologic and Behavioural Effects
of Housing Density and Environmental Resource Provision for Adult Male and
Female Sprague Dawley Rats. Animals (Basel). 2017 Jun 1;7(6):44. doi:
10.3390/ani7060044. PMID: 28587152; PMCID: PMC5483607.