Harvard Medical School Professor’s to Discuss ‘The Fruit Fly Fight Club’ at University

11/11/13

A professor from Harvard Medical School will visit The University of Scranton this month to give a lecture on the role of amines in aggressive behavior in fruit flies.

Edward Kravitz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology, will speak on “Genetic manipulations in the fruit fly fight club: How do amine neurons work?” The lecture takes place on Friday, Nov. 22, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in room 133 of the Loyola Science Center.

            Dr. Kravitz has been a full professor at Harvard Medical School since 1969.For many years, his research has focused on neurotransmitters and neuromodulators and the role of such substances in aggression. His laboratory studies fighting behavior using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism.

            “Aggression is a nearly universal feature of the behavior of social animals,” Dr. Kravitz says in a summary of his research on Harvard’s website. “In the wild, it is used to procure food and shelter, for protection from predation and for selection of mates, all of which are essential for survival. Despite its importance, little is known of the neural mechanisms that underlie aggressive behavior, other than that hormonal substances, including amines, peptides and steroid hormones serve important roles in the behavior.”

            Dr. Kravitz’s research has demonstrated that both male and female flies compete over resources in same-sex pairings. In male fights, defeated flies develop a “loser mentality,” and will lose all subsequent fights. Currently, he and his research team are investigating the role of amines in fruit fly aggression.

Dr. Kravitz holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from the City College of New York and a doctorate in biological chemistry from The University of Michigan. His postdoctoral studies took place at the National Institutes of Health.

            Dr. Kravitz’s presentation will be the University’s annual Neuroscience Lecture. The event is sponsored by the University’s Neuroscience Program, Biology Department and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The lecture is free of charge and open to the public.

For additional information, contact Marc Sied, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, at 570-941-7970.

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