David J. Anderson, Ph.D., is Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Anderson received an A.B. degree at Harvard and a Ph.D. Degree at Rockefeller University where he trained with Nobelist Günter Blobel. Dr. Anderson performed postdoctoral studies at Columbia University with Nobelist Richard Axel.
Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellow, 1983-86
NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award 1986-87
Searle Scholars Award, 1987-88
Alfred P. Sloan research Fellowship in Neuroscience, Javits Investigator in Neuroscience (NIH), 1989-96
Charles Judson Herrick Award in Comparative Neurology, 1990
Ferguson Award for Graduate Teaching, 1994
Ferguson Award for Biology Education, 1996
Ferguson Award for Graduate Teaching, 1998
Alden Spencer Award in Neurobiology, Columbia University, 1999
Elected Associate, The Neurosciences Institute, 2001
American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, 2002
American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 2002
Named Roger W. Sperry Professor of Biology, Caltech, 2004
Alexander von Humboldt Award, 2005
Elected to the National Academies of Sciences, 2007
Named Seymour Benzer Professor of Biology, Caltech, 2009
Named Allen Institute Distinguished Investigator, 2010.
Research interests in my laboratory focuses on understanding how emotional behavior is encoded in the brain, at the level of specific neuronal circuits, and the specific neuronal subtypes that comprise them. We want to understand the structure and dynamic properties of these circuits and how they give rise to the outward behavioral expressions of emotions such as fear, anxiety or anger. This information will provide a framework for understanding how and where in the brain emotions are influenced by genetic variation and environmental influence (“nature” and “nurture”), and the mechanism of action of drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders such as depression. We are using both mice and the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster as model systems. A central focus of the laboratory is on the neural circuits underlying aggression and fear. We are using molecular genetic tools, as well as functional imaging and electrophysiology, to establish cause-and-effect relationships between the activity of specific neuronal circuits and behavior. We hope that this research will lead to new insights into the organization of emotion circuits, and their dysregulation in psychiatric disorders.