Richard Levy, MD, FAAP

Professor of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics

Research Description

Our lab is interested in evaluating the neurotoxic and neuroprotective effects of low-dose carbon monoxide (CO) in the developing brain. We are specifically focused on CO-mediated neuroprotection in the context of an anesthetic exposure. The phenomenon of re-breathing one’s own exhaled CO is unique to the semi-closed anesthesia breathing circuit. In early work, we found that exposure to low concentration CO alone inhibited natural programmed cell death in the developing murine brain and prevented necessary elimination of excess and aberrant neurons. This resulted in impaired social behavior and memory and learning later in life. In subsequent work, we found that the anti-apoptotic effects of CO were able to offset and prevent the deleterious effects of anesthetic agents in the developing brain. As a result, we are currently evaluating the mechanisms of anesthesia-induced overactivation of cytochrome oxidase within forebrain mitochondria in immature rodents and determining how CO modulates cytochrome oxidase activity during anesthetic exposure to provide neuroprotection. The ultimate goal of our work is to develop low-dose CO as a novel therapeutic agent to prevent anesthesia-induced neurotoxicity.

In other work, we are studying fragile X syndrome, the leading known inherited intellectual disability and the most common genetic cause of autism. We are utilizing Fmr1 KO mice as a model of fragile X syndrome, intellectual disability, and autistic behavior. In preliminary work, we found a defect in the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis in the forebrain of newborn male Fmr1 mutant mice. This led us to explore oxidative phosphorylation and bioenergetic capacity in these mice. We are currently studying mitochondrial function in the developing brain of Fmr1 KOs and determining the genetic predisposition to oxidative stress and neurodegeneration. We aim to use this model to identify neurotoxic and neurosparing anesthetic agents for FXS and related diseases. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop safe and precise anesthetic approaches for children with FXS.


  • Aili Wang

    Aili Wang is a Senior Staff Associate in Dr. Levy’s Laboratory. Aili received a master’s degree in Physiology and an MD degree from Xinjiang Medical University in China. She has over 20 years of technical experience in basic science research in the areas of molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, and mitochondrial biology. She previously worked in the laboratories of Dr. Isidore S. Edelman, in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at CUMC, investigating Zinc-ATPases and Dr. Lena S. Sun, Vice Chairman of Department of Anesthesiology at CUMC, studying the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure and nutrient restriction on intrauterine growth and cardiac function in developing rodents. She is technically skilled in hybridoma production, ELISA, Western blot analysis, PCR, RT-PCR, cDNA microarray, cell culturing methods, immunocytochemistry, confocal and light microscopy, and measuring mitochondrial function using spectrophotometry and polarographic methods. She has been a member of the Levy Lab since 2014.

  • Lifei Wang

    Lifei Wang is a Laboratory Technician in Dr. Levy’s Laboratory. Lifei received a Masters of Science degree in biology from New York University in June 2016. As a graduate student, she was involved in working to develop therapeutic approaches to Alzheimer's disease in Dr. Thomas Wisniewski's laboratory at NYU Medical Center from 2015 to 2016. She then worked as a research technician in Dr. Bogdan Wisniewski's lab to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of axon degeneration and regeneration at Hunter James Kelly Research Institute until January 2017. Lifei has been a member of the Levy Lab since February 2017. She is technically proficient in animal husbandry and breeding, mitochondrial isolation, performing enzyme kinetic activity assays, immunohistochemistry, western blotting, and light and fluorescence microscopy.

Select Publications

View a complete list of Dr. Levy's publications.