Yick-Bun Chan, Ph.D.
I am a post-doctoral research fellow at the Kravitz laboratory. I am a graduate of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (BSc in Biology). I completed my MPhil degree in 1999 at the same university under the supervision of Dr Min-Chiu Fung studying differential gene expression during myeloid leukemia cell differentiation. With the financial support of the Croucher Foundation of Hong Kong, I pursued my graduate studies at the University of Oxford working towards a DPhil degree under the supervision of Professor Kay Davies and Dr Marcel van den Heuvel. There I studied the Drosophila model of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a recessive neurodegenerative disease in humans. My studies at both institutions helped me acquire a solid foundation in a wide variety of molecular biological techniques. The studies also offered me the opportunity to familiarize myself with other techniques including transgenic studies, mutant screens, and yeast two-hybrid assays, all of which were of great assistance in my studies of cell biology and genetic diseases. My thesis work at Oxford resulted in two publications (Chan et al., 2003; Miguel-Aliaga et al., 2000).
In 2003, I moved to Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts to pursue post-doctoral training under the supervision of Dr Edward Kravitz. My research focus here has been on the neuronal circuitry that underlies gender selective behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster. Like courtship behavior, fighting behavior (aggression) in fruit flies also is gender specific. Socially naïve flies will interact and fight according to a set of fixed, distinct behavioral patterns. These findings suggest that like courtship behavior, aggression also is "hardwired" in the nervous system. Unlike courtship behavior, however, which shows distinct patterns only in males, clear differences are seen in the behavioral patterns shown during aggression in male and female flies (Nilsen et al., 2004). Using genetic methods in studies of aggression with fruit flies, I am exploring the possibility of interchanging behavioral patterns between males and females and ultimately identifying the underlying neuronal circuitry that controls this gender specific behavior. I also have developed behavioral screens using P-element insertion lines to search for genetic mutants showing altered courtship or aggressive behavior phenotypes.
My other interests including sailing, pottery (especially sculpturing) and studying japanese.
1. Nilsen, S.P., Chan, Y.B., Huber, R., and Kravitz, E.A. (2004). Gender-selective patterns of aggressive behavior in Drosophila melanogaster. PNAS. 101(33):12342-7
2. Chan, Y.B., Miguel-Aliaga, I., Franks, C., Thomas, N., Trulzsch, B., Sattelle, D., Davies, K.E., and van den Heuvel, M. (2003). Neuromuscular defects in a Drosophila survival motor neuron mutant. Human Molecular Genetics. 12(12):1367-76
3. Miguel-Aliaga, I., Chan, Y.B., Davies, K.E., and van den Heuvel, M. (2000). Disruption of SMN function by ectopic expression of the human SMN gene in Drosophila. FEBS Letter. 486(2):99-102.