Western University BiologyWestern Science

Anne Simon, PhD

Genetics of Social Behavior


Anne Simon Position:
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Assistant Professor
BGS 3022
519 661-2111 x 80084
519 661-3935
asimon28@uwo.ca

I deeply enjoy sharing my fascination for the complexity of the biological world with students of all levels. I also think that teaching happens beyond the classroom, and in parallel to teaching in the classroom, I have been continuously mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in my research projects. We currently focus on the analysis of complex behavior in the fruit fly relevant to neuropsychiatric illnesses. Inappropriate response to others is a shared deficit in many mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Arguably, the power of Drosophila has been underused to answer these questions, in part because of a lack of proper behavioral paradigms. The paradigms that we have developed help fill that need: measure of social space (space "bubble") and avoidance of other stressed individuals. My objective is to quantify sociability among fruit flies. Specifically, I am pursuing several directions: 

1/ The identification of the neuro-anatomical circuitry responsible for the observed phenotypes through the manipulation of neuron functions

2/ Testing candidate pathways involved in other types of social behavior and candidate for schizophrenia or autism, and studying their potential interactions

3/ Using forward genetic approaches that cannot be applied to most model systems to identify new genes required for social recognition 

The results of these studies will allow us to identify new genes required for social response and to map the neuronal circuitry of social behavior in flies. We hypothesize that some of the genes and cellular mechanisms involved in tuning a complex nervous system to recognize a similar animal may be conserved.

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