Group Leader, Greg Jefferis, is joining Anne Bertolotti as Joint Head of the LMB’s Neurobiology Division. Together they will spearhead the Division’s continuing development and expansion. Greg takes over the position from Michael Hastings, who has led the Division for the past ten years.
Greg Jefferis started his research group at the LMB in 2008. His research aims to link genes, neural circuits and behaviour in the fruit fly, Drosophila. One key experimental approach is the use of connectomics to reveal complete brain wiring diagrams (connectomes) at the key resolution of individual synaptic connections. The field of connectomics was born at LMB, and it is an important area of expansion; Greg is well-placed to offer guidance and leadership through this period of growth.
Recently Greg’s group has worked with collaborators at the University of Cambridge, Janelia Research Campus and Princeton University to produce the first complete connectomes of both the fly brain and nerve cord (analogous to our own spinal cord). Connectomes can accelerate and enrich many areas of neuroscience. Olfactory circuits are a focus area for Greg’s group: understanding how smell turns into behaviour in Drosophila brains provides a model for many key aspects of brain function. For example, prior work has shown how memory recall depends on circuits which have previously been considered to be specialised for innate odour responses. Other new research from Greg’s group has identified how flies use smell to determine both the identity and position of other flies, revealing unexpected similarities to the processing of sight and sound.
Greg received a BA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge before completing a PhD at Stanford University on ‘Wiring specificity in the olfactory system of Drosophila’ where he remained as a Postdoctoral Fellow. Greg returned to Cambridge in 2004, initially as a Wellcome / St. John’s College Fellow at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, before joining the LMB to start his own group in 2008.
Greg’s research has been recognised by numerous honours, including election to the EMBO Young Investigator Programme in 2012, election as a FENS Kavli Scholar in 2016, and the award of the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture by the Royal Society in 2019.
The Neurobiology Division
Neurobiology is the youngest Division at the LMB and focuses on understanding how brains give rise to minds. The goal of the Neurobiology Division of the LMB is to understand the function and dysfunction of nerve cells at the molecular, cellular and organismal level. This includes unravelling the mechanisms that determine the special abilities of nerve cells to rapidly transmit and process information. Further research explores communication between small numbers of nerve cells in the brain and accompanying behaviours. The Division also investigates the molecular processes that lead to common neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease with the aim of discovering new possibilities for clinical intervention.