Welcome to the Gerlai Lab

quote The ultimate goal of behaviour genetics is to understand how genes influence brain function and behaviour.

This is an exciting but rather complex problem. In our laboratory we use zebra fish as a model system with which one can screen behaviourally interesting mutants generated by chemical mutagenesis, an approach called forward genetics. Once found, such behavioural mutants allow the identification of novel genes involved in such diverse brain functions as learning and memory, social behaviours, and alcohol induced behavioural changes, the three main focus areas of our laboratory. Given the high sequence homology between zebra fish and human genes, these findings may lead to better understanding of the biological mechanisms of not only zebra fish behaviour but of human brain related diseases too.

The first step in this quest is the establishment of reliable behavioural tests of zebra fish, an almost entirely uncharted territory. Our students have the opportunity to develop novel behavioural screening methods and to behaviourally characterize zebra fish. The novelty of zebra fish in behavioural sciences makes this work challenging but also rewarding. In fact even some of the short term projects (summer, undergraduate independent, or undergraduate thesis studies) have already started to make their way to international publications. The laboratory is also gearing up to employ random mutagenesis as well as differential gene expression analysis using DNA microarrays.

Our laboratory is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH/NIAAA, USA) and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC, Canada). We have a limited number of openings at the graduate student as well as at the postdoctoral fellow level. Applicants with experience in animal behaviour and/or genetics will be considered. Experience in any of the following areas represents an advantage: drug/alcohol addiction, animal learning and memory, molecular biology (e.g. positional cloning and DNA microarray analysis), behavioural pharmacology. Undergraduate students who enjoy a creative and challenging work environment may also apply for independent and undergraduate thesis research studies in the lab.

If interested please contact:

Professor Robert T. Gerlai
Associate Chair
Department of Psychology, Rm 3035
University of Toronto @ Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga
Ontario, CANADA, L5L 1C6
office: (905)569-4255
lab: (905)569-4257
fax: (905)569-4326
e-mail: robert_gerlai@yahoo.com

Zebra Fish Links

  • The Zebra Fish Book
  • Zfin.org
  • Tools we use

  • Oberver
  • Ethovision
  • Videos

    Video 1: Zebra Fish Embryonic movement.
    Video by Christine Buske.


    The Gerlai Lab has published a variety of interesting findings, for a list of our most recent publications click here


    Find out more about the Gerlai Lab staff and students here


    Mandatory readings for new students, handy tutorials for computer programs used in the lab and general laboratory practices can be found here