Welcome to the Garrity Lab



Molecular genetics



What we study: 

Our work addresses fundamental questions in molecular, cellular and systems neuroscience. We focus on how the nervous system perceives and processes sensory information to control behavior and physiology. A major focus of our work is on how animals sense and respond to temperature, as it is a fundamental property of matter with dramatic effects on the rate and direction of all chemical reactions and, therefore, on all aspects of life.

We probe these questions using multiple approaches, from molecular biology and genetics to high-resolution behavioral studies to physiology and evolutionary analyses. Through investigating sensory responses at multiple levels, the goal is to provide deep and robust insights into how the nervous system detects and processes information. As technological advances are critical in helping realize these goals, we also work to develop new tools for manipulating genomes and neuronal activity (as in our lab's introduction of "thermogenetics").

In the lab, we use two insect systems: the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. We use Drosophila because its powerful molecular genetics facilitate the discovery and dissection of sensory mechanisms at the molecular and circuit levels. We use Anopheles because it allows us to leverage insights from Drosophila to understand the complex behaviors of host-seeking and blood-feeding responsible for the transmission of malaria, a disease that annually sickens over 200 million people and causes over 400,000 deaths, mostly of children under 5 years of age. (The World Health Organization estimates that a child dies of malaria every 2 minutes.)  Together, these systems complement one another and allow our lab to work on topics of intrinsic basic science interest while, at the same time, contribute to efforts relevant to human health.

Where we work:

Our lab is part of the Volen Center for Complex Systems in the Biology Department at Brandeis University.  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, Rachelle Gaudet 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, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 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 all the above. 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 or just stop by.