Ed Kravitz


Ed 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. Ed’s research interests, have centered on neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and now focus on the role of such substances in aggression. In 2002 the laboratory shifted to the study of fighting behavior using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism from the previous lobster model.
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.
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.
Ed 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.

Ed's momoir about Neurobiology in the 60s


Yick Bun Chan


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.
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. 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.


Olga Alekseyenko


I am interested in understanding the roles of serotonin (5HT) and dopamine (DA) neurotransmission in modulating complex social behaviors. Throughout my academic training, I have contributed to the research field of neuronal basis of social behaviors across species, using different model systems such as mice, ferrets and fruit flies. During my time at HMS in Kravitz lab I combined my background in behavioral genetics with the cellular neurobiology techniques to investigate the role of individual DA and 5HT neurons in modulating aggressive behavior in Drosophila. I have created a transgenic line that allowed selective manipulation of 5HT neurons to study their role in social behavior. Most recently, using intersectional genetics and imaging techniques in collaboration with HMS Research Associate in Neurobiology Yick-Bun Chan, we have identified single pairs of DA neurons that modulate aggression but not other behaviors in Drosophila. At the present time I am working on the project that aims to identify individual serotonergic neurons and their post-synaptic targets that are involved in control of aggression. The goal of my research is to establish fundamental principles for how neurotransmitter neurons work and communicate with each other in the fruit fly system.


Budha Chowdhury


I am a Post-doctoral research fellow at the Kravitz lab. I got my doctoral degree from Bowling Green State University, OH, under the tutelage of Robert Huber and Moira van Staaden where I studied animal behavior. In the spring of 2012 I joined the Kravitz Lab at Harvard Medical School. My interests lie in quantitative characterization of complex behavioral phenotypes and studying biochemical, molecular and neuronal mechanisms underlying such phenotypes. Taking advantage of the selected hyper – aggressive strain of Drosophila in the Kravitz lab, the “Bully” flies, I am trying to understand how genes and environment work together to hardwire behavioral circuits for the adult fruit fly to navigate its environment. I am also interested in the temporal dynamics of two player interactions in the context of aggression.







Severine Trannoy


I am a post-doctoral research fellow in Kravitz lab. I Graduated from the French University of Paris (Paris VI University) and did my PhD under the supervision of Dr Thomas Preat where I focused my research on the molecular mechanisms and neuronal circuits involved in olfactory memory in Drosophila. In 2013, I moved to Harvard Medical School for a post-doctoral training under the supervision of Dr Edward Kravitz. My main research focuses on the formation and modulation of the loser and winner effects in Drosophila, (previous losers or winners showing higher probability to lose or win a second contest, respectively). These effects, that involve learning and memory processes, have been widely studied in many species, but few studies reported such effects in Drosophila. My interest is to precisely describe the temporal dynamic of these effects, the neuronal circuits and the molecular mechanisms involved in their formation. I am also interested in how serotonin neurotransmitter modulates aggression. I am trying to isolate specific serotonin neuronal circuits and focusing on their behavioral function.






Caroline Palavicino-Maggio


I am a post-doctoral research fellow at the Kravitz laboratory. I completed my doctoral degree with honors from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University in 2013. As a predoctoral student, I developed the novel hypothesis that antipsychotics can induce weight gain by direct action on the intestine rather than through indirect central nervous system mechanisms. Via my original thesis proposal, I was awarded the NIH predoctoral award, the Mental Health Dissertation Research Grant (R36) to support this work. The project was highly praised for its potential to change the clinical use of antipsychotics in a way that will lead to minimization of weight gain and its associated co-morbidities, thereby improving the lives of those suffering from mental illnesses. I am also a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Scholarship for Minorities and Rutgers University Foundation Honor Society Fellowship for Research Scholars.
In 2016, I moved to Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts to pursue post-doctoral training under the supervision of Dr Edward Kravitz. My research interests focus on the role of amine neurons and how changes in gene expression in the circuits involved with these neurons produce the changes in social behaviors like aggression. My current project in the Kravitz laboratory is to examine the genes that are responsible for the the hyper-aggressive “bullies” phenotype using the Drosophila melanogaster model system, by identifying the localization and function of the protein products of this gene, as originally described in the Kravitz laboratory. By utilizing the fruit fly model, we are able to examine behaviors like aggression to the cellular and circuit level allowing a deeper understanding of how these systems work. In the long run, such knowledge will have relevance in efforts to understand how amine neurons function in humans.