Oliver Hobert

Oliver Hobert

Research Interest

Short Research Description

Nervous system development and function (hobertlab.org)

Full Research Description

The main focus of the laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms that generate the astounding diversity of cell types in a nervous system. Using theC.elegans model system, we have revealed a core regulatory logic for how terminal neuronal identity is controlled in several different neuron types [1-6]. We have demonstrated that these regulatory mechanisms are conserved in chordates [4, 5]. These insights have allowed us to reprogram the identity of heterologous cell types to that of specific neuron types [7, 8]. Venturing into a little explored area of neuronal diversification, we have developed a novel paradigm to study asymmetry across the left/right axis [9, 10], by far the least understood axis in any nervous system, and identified a complex gene regulatory network that differentially controls terminal neuron identity across this axis [11-24].

Aside from our main focus on neuronal development, we have also studied the molecular machinery with which the nervous system responds to the environment (i) to modulate behavior [10, 25-27] and (ii) to ensure that it maintains its functional and structural integrity [28-31].

Employing new technologies that we developed [32-35], we will continue to exploit the simplicity and experimental amenability of the worm to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the genetic programs that control the development of theC.elegans nervous system and we will continue to extend these insights to vertebrates.