Jun-Xu Li MD, PhD

Jun-Xu Li

Jun-Xu Li

Associate Professor

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Behavioral pharmacology; Drug abuse; Neurobiology

Contact Information
3207, JSMBS
955 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: (716) 829-2482

Professional Summary:

I have two primary research interests. First, I use pharmacological approaches to seek novel therapeutics for pain. Pain is an agonizing symptom and disease that affects millions of people. Analgesics like opioids (e.g., OxyContin) are powerful for treating many pain conditions. However, opioids are not efficacious for some pain (e.g., neuropathic pain) and prolonged use of opioids has many side effects, including tolerance and dependence. My research has found that drugs acting on imidazoline I2 receptors may produce analgesic effects that are devoid of opioid-like side effects. I am continuing this line of research to further delineate the pharmacological properties of these drugs--how they work, how effective and safe they are, and how long the beneficial effects last--as a novel class of analgesics.

Second, I am interested in pharmacotherapy of stimulant abuse. Stimulants represent a large family of abused drugs, including traditional drugs of abuse such as cocaine and methamphetamine (“meth”) and valuable pharmacotherapies such as Adderall and Ritalin. Stimulant abuse and addiction remain challenging problems that lack FDA-approved pharmacotherapies. We use powerful behavioral pharmacological approaches, in animal models that are predictive of human stimulant abuse conditions, to study novel drug targets and evaluate potential pharmacotherapeutic treatments.

One unifying theme of the ongoing research in my laboratory is the application of receptor theory to the guidance and interpretation of the drug interactions in behaving animals. The long-term goal of my laboratory is to develop new analgesics for pain control and pharmacotherapeutics for stimulant addiction.

Education and Training:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Behavioral Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (2008)
  • PhD, Pharmacology, Peking University (2005)
  • MD, Medicine, Binzhou Medical University (2000)


  • Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo (2010–2016)
  • Instructor, Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (2008–2010)

Awards and Honors:

  • ASPET-JH Woods Early Career Award of Behavioral Pharmacology (2019)
  • CPDD Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award (2016)
  • UB Exceptional Scholar-Young Investigator Award (2014)
  • Maharaj Ticku Memorial Travel Fellowship (2012)
  • ASPET Young Scientist Travel Award (2009)
  • ASPET Best Paper Award (2009)
  • CPDD Early Career Investigator Award (2007)
  • ASPET Young Scientist Travel Award (2007)

Research Expertise:

  • Behavioral Pharmacology: We use various behavioral pharmacological procedures to understand how drugs work at the behavioral level. Procedures used include drug discrimination, schedule-controlled responding, drug self-administration, delay discounting, place conditioning, locomotor activity and various acute and chronic pain tests.
  • Pain and Addiction: We are interested in understanding the neurobiological crosstalk between pain and addiction. To reach this goal, we are developing novel behaivoral procedures to simultaneously measure pain affect and addiction-related behaviors.
  • Quantitative Pharmacological Analysis: The precise understanding of the interactions between drugs from the same or different classes requires quantitative analysis methods. These analytical strategies help to ascertain the behavioral effects of drugs in an quantitative manner.

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • April 2019–February 2024
    TAAR1 agonists for nicotine addiction
    National Institute on Drug Abuse
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • February 2016–January 2021
    Allosteric modulation of the CB1 receptor
    National Institute on Drug Abuse
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • March 2013–November 2018
    Imidazoline I2 receptors as targets for the treatment of pain
    National Institute on Drug Abuse
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • July 2016–June 2018
    TAAR 1 modulation of addiction-related effects of nicotine
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • June 2013–May 2015
    Behavioral effects of methamphetamine & imidazoline I2 receptor ligands
    National Institute on Drug Abuse
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2010–January 2015
    Delay discounting: effects of drug dependence and withdrawal.
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • January 2010–January 2015
    Discriminative stimulus effects of opioid withdrawal.
    Role: Co-Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (96 more)

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Li JX, Gerak LR, France CP. Drug discrimination studies in rhesus monkeys: drug dependence and withdrawal. In: RA Glennon, R Young. Drug Discrimination: Applications to Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Studies. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc; 2010..

Professional Memberships:

  • International Association for the Study of Pain (2010–present)
  • Behavioral Pharmacology Society (2009–present)
  • Sigma Xi (2008–present)
  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2007–present)
  • The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (2007–present)


  • "Interactions between serotonin (5-HT) receptor agonists and opioids in rhesus monkeys: effects of 1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylphenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOM) on i.v. heroin self-administration." CPDD 73th annual meeting (2011)
  • "5-HT and opioid drug interactions in rats and monkeys: drug discrimination." European Behavioural Pharmacology Society 13th biennial meeting (2010)
  • "Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol decreases the heroin self-administration behavior in rhesus monkeys." International Study Group Investigating Drugs as Reinforcers annual meeting (2010)
  • "Effects of contingent and noncontingent THC treatment on heroin self administration in rhesus monkeys." CPDD 72th annual meeting (2010)
  • "Differential modification of the antinociceptive and discriminative stimulus effects of morphine by 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptor agonists in rhesus monkeys" CPDD 71th annual meeting (2009)
  • "Discriminative stimulus effects of DOM in rhesus monkeys: interactions between 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptor agonists" Experimental Biology 2009 annual meeting (2009)
  • "Interactions between serotonin ligands: rat¡Ùmonkey." 2009 Behavioral Pharmacology Society meeting (2009)
  • "Food restriction and streptozotocin decrease sensitivity of rats to hypothermic effects of direct- and indirect-acting serotonin receptor agonists." American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2008 annual meeting (2008)
  • "Interactions between direct- and indirect-acting 5-HT2 receptor agonists and the discriminative stimulus effects of morphine in rhesus monkeys: perceptual masking?" CPDD 70th annual meeting (2008)
  • "Apparent pA2 analysis of 5-HT2A receptor antagonists in rhesus monkeys discriminating DOM" Experimental Biology 2008 annual meeting (2008)
  • "Is there behavioral evidence for constitutive activity at 5-HT2A receptors?" Texas Research Society on Alcoholism 2008 annual meeting (2008)
  • "Comparison of the discriminative stimulus effects of DOM, MDL100907 and ketanserin in rats: inverse agonism?" CPDD 69th annual meeting (2007)
  • "Behavioral effects of dipropyltryptamine (DPT) in rats: role of 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors" Experimental Biology 2007 annual meeting (2007)
  • "Interaction between ¦¤9-THC, DOM, quipazine and the discriminative stimulus effects of morphine in rhesus monkeys: perceptual masking?" Society for Neuroscience 36th annual meeting (2006)
  • "Behavioral effects of thienorphine in rhesus monkeys." CPDD 68th annual meeting (2006)
See all (5 more)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

3207, JSMBS
955 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: (716) 829-2482