Heads of Laboratories
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Torsten N. Wiesel Professor
Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior
Genes, the environment, and experience interact to shape an animal’s behavior. Caenorhabditis elegans, a worm with just 302 neurons, shows considerable sophistication in its behaviors, and its defined neuronal wiring and genetic accessibility make it an ideal subject in which to study these interactions. Using C. elegans as a model, Dr. Bargmann’s laboratory characterizes genes and neural pathways that allow the nervous system to generate flexible behaviors.
How do genes and the environment interact to generate a variety of behaviors? How are behavioral decisions modified by context and experience? The Bargmann lab is studying the relationships between genes, experience, the nervous system, and behavior in the nematode C. elegans. C. elegans has a nervous system that consists of just 302 neurons with reproducible functions, morphologies, and synaptic connections. Despite this simplicity, many of the genes and signaling mechanisms used in the nematode nervous system are similar to those of mammals. The ability to manipulate the activity of individual genes and neurons in C. elegans makes it possible to determine how neural circuits develop and function.
Dr. Bargmann is also investigating how much flexibility is present in a simple nervous system. For example, C. elegans is capable of learning the odors of different bacteria and avoiding those that previously made it ill. These learned olfactory behaviors are associated with neurochemical changes that lead to rapid behavioral remodeling.
B.S. in biochemistry, 1981, University of Georgia
Ph.D. in cancer biology, 1987, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1987–1991
Assistant Professor, 1991–1996
Associate Professor, 1996–1998
University of California, San Francisco
Codirector, Shelby White and Leon Levy Center for
Mind, Brain and Behavior, 2005–
The Rockefeller University
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Kemali International Prize, 2004
Richard Lounsbery Award, 2009
Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award, 2012
Kavli Prize, 2012
Breakthrough Prize 2013
Benjamin Franklin Medal, 2014
National Academy of Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Philosophical Society
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Gordus, A. et al. Feedback from network states generates variability in a probabilistic olfactory circuit. Cell 161, 215–227 (2015).
Flavell, S.W. et al. Serotonin and the neuropeptide PDF initiate and extend opposing behavioral states in C. elegans. Cell 154, 1023–1035 (2013).
Garrison, J.L. et al. Oxytocin/vasopressin-related peptides have an ancient role in reproductive behavior. Science 338, 540–543 (2012).
Bendesky, A. et al. Catecholamine receptor polymorphisms affect decision-making in C. elegans. Nature 472, 313–318 (2011).
Macosko, E.Z. et al. A hub-and-spoke circuit derives pheromone attraction and social behaviour in C. elegans. Nature 458, 1171–1175 (2009).