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How aggression is orchestrated remains one of the most fundamental questions of neurobiology, with crucial implications in understanding circuit development and disease. While research over the last decade has linked certain genes and neuromodulatory systems in the control of aggressive behavior with males as a predominantly used model, relatively little is known about the genetic processes or brain circuit dynamics underlying aggression regulation in females.

Our research program uses a combination of optical imaging, genetic perturbations, connectome, automated behavioral measures, using the fruit fly model system to find critical circuits, cells, and genes that drive female aggression.

Why use the fruit fly model

Aggression in fruit flies is characterized by robust, sex-specific stereotypical patterns of behavior that are robust, quantifiable, and reproducible. Despite anatomical differences, the human and fly nervous systems have numerous similarities in terms of conserved genes, neuromodulatory systems, and circuit structure principles will reveal fundamentally significant insights into human aggression.

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Aggression disrupted in disease

We are focused on studying how neurological and psychiatric diseases influence circuits that ultimately affect aggression. Our research plan is designed to increase our collective knowledge of how disease states affect circuits, cellular function, and molecular pathways.

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