Welcome to the Garrity Lab



Molecular genetics



What we study: 

Our work addresses fundamental questions in molecular and systems neuroscience, focusing on how the nervous system perceives and processes sensory information to drive behavior. Such work is not only important from a basic science perspective, it has direct implications for human health, as we investigate these questions in the context of host-seeking by insect vectors responsible for transmitting malaria, dengue, Zika virus and other debilitating and sometimes fatal diseases.

The basic questions that motivate our work are: How do animals sense their environments? How is all this sensory information processed to influence behavior? What are the evolutionarily origins of the underlying machinery and circuitry, and how can such knowledge inform our understanding of how animals operate today?

We probe these questions using fruit flies and vector mosquitoes. As our interests extend from the molecular to the systems level, we use a multitude of approaches. These range from molecular biology and genetics to high-resolution behavioral analysis to molecular phylogeny to physiology (calcium-imaging and electrophysiology in intact animals to electrophysiological analysis of ion channels in heterologous systems). The overall notion is that by working in insects, a small team can feasibly investigate these question at multiple levels, and that by doing so we can provide robust insights into how the nervous system detects and processes sensory information. Finally, technological advances will be critical in helping more fully realize these goals, and so we continually work to develop new tools for manipulating genomes and neuronal activity (as in our development of "thermogenetics").

Where we work:

Brandeis has a vibrant, tightly knit molecular genetics and neuroscience community, and we interact extensively with other labs at Brandeis and at nearby institutions. The critical mass of scientists in Boston is a tremendous resource, starting with our immediate neighbors in the labs of Michael Rosbash, Piali Sengupta and Leslie Griffith, and extending to our NIH-funded collaborations with the labs of Aravi Samuel at Harvard University and Flaminia Catteruccia at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Brandeis is located on the west side of Boston. It is readily accessible by public transportation and car from all over Boston and its suburbs. Lab members often live in Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Somerville, Waltham, and Worcester.

Who supports us:

The lab is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Joining the lab:

The lab is actively seeking talented, highly motivated individuals to join us to work on fruit flies, mosquitoes, sensory receptors or some combination of all these. Post-doctoral applicants are encouraged to contact P.G. by e-mail. Please include a CV and contact information for three references. Brandeis graduate students should e-mail and stop by.

Lab/mentoring overview:

Lab size ranges from 7 to 12; large enough to sustain critical mass, but small enough to maximize interaction. 

Post-docs have traditionally been interested in careers as research and teaching faculty and have been successful in achieving their goals. Emphasis is placed on establishing projects that provide strong foundations for building independent research programs. In addition, writing (reviews, fellowships etc...) as well as mentoring and teaching opportunities are also emphasized. Opportunities include an undergraduate research class (part of a grant to our lab from the NSF), coupled to ongoing research in our lab.

Graduate students are mentored with an emphasis on critical thinking and exploring new areas, with ample opportunities for writing, mentoring and teaching. Students have traditionally pursued academic post-docs or positions in biotechnology upon graduation.