Francesco Leri

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



Accepting Graduate Students: 
Accepting New Experiential Learning Students: 

Francesco Leri is a 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 hedonic processes, reinforcement monarchisms, as well as addictions and their long-term treatments.


The laboratory of Dr. Leri typically offers 1 research position 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. 


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


Dr. Leri has been consistently funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to study the effects of natural and chemical incentive stimuli (e.g., fructose, heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, methadone, kemtaine) on learning, memory and motivational processes using animal models (rats).

Selected Publications

Recent publications (updated: March 2020)

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
Feb 14. pii: S0924-977X(20)30033-X. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.01.010. [Epub
ahead of print] PubMed 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. Review. PubMed PMID: 31969265.

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. PubMed PMID: 31594917; PubMed Central
PMCID: PMC6783543.

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. PubMed PMID: 31449911.

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. PubMed
PMID: 30991059; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6545156.

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(1a) 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;:. PubMed PMID: 30903210.

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. Print 2019 Feb. PubMed PMID:
30651377; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6340119.

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.
PubMed 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. PubMed 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. PubMed PMID: 29408463.