Sociogenomics and the Dynamic Genome: A New Perspective on Nature and Nurture

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Indiana University William T. Patten Foundation
This lecture will describe the roots of sociogenomics and how it provides a new framework for understanding the relationship between genes and social behavior. The key discoveries underlying this framework will be discussed: 1) Brain gene expression is closely linked with behavior, across time scales, from physiological to evolutionary; 2) Environmentally induced changes in gene expression mediate changes in behavior; and 3) The relationship between genes and behavior is highly conserved, from animals to humans.
Gene Robinson is Swanlund Chair, director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, and director of the Bee Research Facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He uses genomics and systems biology to study the mechanisms and evolution of social life. His principal model system is the Western honey bee, Apis mellifera, along with other species of bees. Although Professor Robinson uses the honey bee model in his research, both his research questions and the context of his work are broadly relevant to scientists, social scientists, and psychologists. The goal is to explain the function and evolution of behavioral mechanisms that integrate the activity of individuals in a society, neural and neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate behavior within the brain of the individual, and the genes that influence social behavior.
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