Alan Seth Lewis, Ph.D., M.D.

Assistant Professor

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Faculty Appointments
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Assistant Professor of Neurology
M.D., Northwestern University, Evanston/Chicago, IllinoisPh.D., Neuroscience, Northwestern University, Evanston/Chicago, IllinoisB.A., Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Office Address
465 21st Avenue South
MRBIII, room 6140B
Nashville, TN 37240
Research Description
Dr. Alan Lewis completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and received his M.D. and Ph.D. as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at Northwestern University. He then undertook residency training in psychiatry at Yale University, followed by a research fellowship with Dr. Marina Picciotto. After briefly joining the faculty at Yale, he moved to Vanderbilt in 2018, where he is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and member of the Center for Cognitive Medicine. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in General Psychiatry.

Dr. Lewis’s research focuses on understanding the neurobiology underlying social impairments across neuropsychiatric disorders, with an emphasis on development of novel treatments for aggressive behaviors. Toward this goal, his lab uses animal models and systems neuroscience approaches to identify brain regions and circuits that modulate social and aggressive behaviors. These basic science findings are translated to focused human studies to investigate potential therapeutic interventions. He is particularly interested in identifying how hippocampal pathology in a wide range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, contribute to alterations in social processes and aggressive behaviors.
Clinical Description
Areas of Clinical Expertise
Schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders in adulthood
Research Keywords
Animal models, systems neuroscience, translational neuropharmacology, in vivo neurophysiology, nicotinic receptors
Lewis AS, van Schalkwyk GI, Lopez MO, Volkmar FR, Picciotto MR, Sukhodolsky DG. An Exploratory Trial of Transdermal Nicotine for Aggression and Irritability in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Aug; 48(8): 2748-57. PMID: 29536216, PII: 10.1007/s10803-018-3536-7, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-018-3536-7, ISSN: 1573-3432.

Lewis AS, Pittenger ST, Mineur YS, Stout D, Smith PH, Picciotto MR. Bidirectional Regulation of Aggression in Mice by Hippocampal Alpha-7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors. Neuropsychopharmacology [print-electronic]. 2018 May; 43(6): 1267-75. PMID: 29114104, PMCID: PMC5916354, PII: npp2017276, DOI: 10.1038/npp.2017.276, ISSN: 1740-634X.

Lewis AS, van Schalkwyk GI, Bloch MH. Alpha-7 nicotinic agonists for cognitive deficits in neuropsychiatric disorders: A translational meta-analysis of rodent and human studies. Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol. Biol. Psychiatry [print-electronic]. 2017 Apr 4/3/2017; 75: 45-53. PMID: 28065843, PMCID: PMC5446073, PII: S0278-5846(16)30435-3, DOI: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2017.01.001, ISSN: 1878-4216.

Lewis AS, Mineur YS, Smith PH, Cahuzac ELM, Picciotto MR. Modulation of aggressive behavior in mice by nicotinic receptor subtypes. Biochem. Pharmacol [print-electronic]. 2015 Oct 10/15/2015; 97(4): 488-97. PMID: 26212554, PMCID: PMC4600457, PII: S0006-2952(15)00389-5, DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2015.07.019, ISSN: 1873-2968.

Van Schalkwyk GI, Lewis AS, Qayyum Z, Koslosky K, Picciotto MR, Volkmar FR. Reduction of Aggressive Episodes After Repeated Transdermal Nicotine Administration in a Hospitalized Adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Sep; 45(9): 3061-6. PMID: 25982311, PMCID: PMC4755349, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2471-0, ISSN: 1573-3432.

Picciotto MR, Lewis AS, van Schalkwyk GI, Mineur YS. Mood and anxiety regulation by nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: A potential pathway to modulate aggression and related behavioral states. Neuropharmacology [print-electronic]. 2015 Sep; 96(Pt B): 235-43. PMID: 25582289, PMCID: PMC4486625, PII: S0028-3908(14)00479-1, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2014.12.028, ISSN: 1873-7064.

Lewis Alan S., Vaidya Sachin P., Blaiss Cory A., Liu Zhiqiang, Stoub Travis R., Brager Darrin R., Chen Xiangdong, Bender Roland A., Estep Chad M., Popov Andrey B., Kang Catherine E., Van Veldhoven Paul P., Bayliss Douglas A., Nicholson Daniel A., Powell Craig M., Johnston Daniel, Chetkovich Dane M.. Deletion of the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel auxiliary subunit TRIP8b impairs hippocampal Ih localization and function and promotes antidepressant behavior in mice. J Neurosci. 2011 May 5/18/2011; 31(20): 7424-40. PMID: 21593326, PMCID: PMC3169171, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0936-11.2011.

Lewis AS, Chetkovich DM. HCN channels in behavior and neurological disease: too hyper or not active enough?. Mol. Cell. Neurosci [print-electronic]. 2011 Feb; 46(2): 357-67. PMID: 21130878, PMCID: PMC3073601, PII: S1044-7431(10)00258-7, DOI: 10.1016/j.mcn.2010.11.007, ISSN: 1095-9327.

Lewis AS, Schwartz E, Chan CS, Noam Y, Shin M, Wadman WJ, Surmeier DJ, Baram TZ, Macdonald RL, Chetkovich DM. Alternatively spliced isoforms of TRIP8b differentially control h channel trafficking and function. J. Neurosci. 2009 May 5/13/2009; 29(19): 6250-65. PMID: 19439603, PMCID: PMC2730639, PII: 29/19/6250, DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0856-09.2009, ISSN: 1529-2401.

Available Postdoctoral Position Details
Posted: 2/11/2019

Postdoctoral position in systems neuroscience for the study of hippocampal regulation of social and aggressive behaviors

Position: A postdoctoral position is available immediately in the lab of Alan Lewis, MD, PhD, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) ( The overall goal of the Lewis Lab is to understand brain regions and circuits that regulate social and aggressive behaviors and learn how to target these connections for therapeutic benefit in neuropsychiatric disorders. This postdoctoral position will support research to test specific intra-hippocampal circuits in the above behaviors.

Requirements: Qualified candidates will possess an MD, PhD, or both degrees and have a background in behavioral or systems neuroscience. Experience performing rodent surgeries is required. Basic experience in MatLab or other computer programming is highly preferred though not required.

Research environment: The Lewis Laboratory is a member of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Neurology at VUMC, as well as affiliated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and Vanderbilt Brain Institute at Vanderbilt University. Resources for neuroscience at Vanderbilt are outstanding, with world-class shared facilities ideal for the proposed postdoctoral research in mouse behavior, advanced microscopy, and statistical support.

Apply: Interested applicants should send a cover letter, current CV, and contact information for 2-3 references to Dr. Alan Lewis at