Current members

Ed Kravitz, PhD

Olga Alekseyenko, PhD

David Bochner

Sarah Certel, PhD

Yick-Bun Chan, PhD

Adelaine Leung, PhD

Jill Penn, PhD

Joanne Yew, PhD


Former members

Edward A Kravitz, Ph.D.

George Packer Berry Professor of Neurobiology

Principal investigator


Dr Edward A. Kravitz is the George Packer Berry Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He is a graduate of the City College of New York (BS in Biology and Chemistry) and The University of Michigan (Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry). His post-doctoral studies were at NIH with Drs. Earl Stadtman and P. Roy Vagelos. Thereafter he went to Harvard Medical School in 1961, rising rapidly to the rank of professor in 1969. Dr Kravitz’s research interests, have centered on neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and now focus on the role of such substances in aggression. For many years the Kravitz laboratory had been examining the role of amine neurons in aggression using a lobster model system. Recently the laboratory shifted to the study of fighting behavior using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism. Although not widely known, both male and female fruit flies do fight and males at least become territorial (establish dominance relationships). With the genome fully sequenced and with elegant methods available for the selective manipulation of genes in subsets of central nervous system neurons, behavioral studies of aggression in flies offer a powerful experimental system for identifying the fundamental mechanisms underlying this behavior. Experiments underway in the laboratory are using the GAL4/UAS system to turn amine neurons on and off while flies are fighting, and are using differences in fighting behavior between males and females to identify genes involved in laying down patterns of behavior in nervous systems. In earlier studies, Kravitz and his colleagues (Kuffler, Potter, Otsuka, Iversen and Hall) were the first to demonstrate that GABA was a neurotransmitter, and with Tony Stretton was the first to demonstrate that an intracellular fluorescent dye could be successfully used to determine neuronal geometry. The Kravitz laboratory has published over 100 papers on these and related topics in first rank journals, and he maintains an active research program at Harvard Medical School. Presently Kravitz is supported by a grant from NIGMS for his research on aggression.

In addition to being a member of many professional societies including the Society for Neuroscience and the International Society for Neuroethology (where he became President in August 2004), Dr Kravitz is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine where he served on the Governing Council, is a Fellow of the AAAS, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his awards and honors, Dr. Kravitz is most proud of his "Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring" award from Harvard Medical School in December of 1998, and the "Education" Award from the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs that was awarded in November 2001 and shared with his long-time colleagues Drs. Edwin Furshpan and David Potter.

Dr Kravitz has long-standing interests in education. He teaches a graduate course on The Neurobiology of Disease and participates in ethics discussion groups for graduate students at Harvard Medical School. He has served as the director of the Neurobiology Course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, was the co-founder and first chairman of the Neurobiology of Disease Teaching Workshops at the Society for Neuroscience, and the founder and first director of the highly successful graduate Program in Neuroscience at Harvard University. He is committed to the education of minorities in the sciences and medicine, and has worked with Native American, Black and Hispanic students and student groups at Harvard, at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and at his alma mater, City College of New York. Dr Kravitz has lectured to high school students at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, and works with Project Success (for minority high school students) at Harvard Medical School. Until recently he served as a Chair of: an NIH-funded Center of Biological Research Excellence (COBRE) External Advisory Committee (EAC) at the University of Puerto Rico; the EAC for a Specialized Neuroscience Research Program (SNRP) grant from NIH at The University of Texas at San Antonio; and the EAC for the Keck Foundation Center in Behavioral Biology Program at North Carolina State University.