Cornelia Bargmann

Tuesday, 17th September 2019 at 11:00 | Large Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Cornelia Bargmann | Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Rockefeller University, Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior

Host: Christine Ho, Developmental Biology Unit


Organizing behavior across timescales

Genes, neurons, and circuits encode information, interpret it based on context and motivational states, and use that combined input to drive flexible behaviors.  Understanding how these processes propagate across temporal and spatial scales is daunting in the complex human brain, but more straightforward in the simple brain of the nematode C. elegans.  Our studies of C. elegans foraging behaviors have provided insights into three levels of behavioral regulation: the gating of information flow by circuit state over seconds, the extrasynaptic regulation of circuits by neuropeptides and neuromodulators over minutes and hours, and innate programs that modify behavior across development. The last few minutes of the talk will be about supporting technology and collaboration in science as a way to accelerate scientific progress.


General research statement

Cori Bargmann's lab studies the neuronal basis of behavior in C. elegans, an animal whose small nervous system and powerful genetics provide unique opportunities to characterize genes, neurons, and circuits responsible for integrative behaviors at multiple levels of analysis. Her Lab studies the development and function of circuits for olfactory behavior, social behavior, and foraging behavior. These represent innate behaviors that are observed across animals, and the lab's work and that of other labs suggests that they call upon similar circuit principles and molecules across a range of animal species. Both naturally-occurring and induced behavioral mutants provide tools for us to understand how genes and the environment interact to generate these flexible behaviors. The Bargmann Lab's research incorporates genetics, molecular biology, neural systems, computation, and behavior. Since 2016, Cori has split her time between the lab and a new biomedical research philanthropy founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, with the long-term goal of supporting basic science and technology that will help solve all diseases over the next century.