“The genome is powering every single project in my lab. We study how the mosquito hunts people. The genome is seeping into everything — it’s helping us identify genes that allow mosquitoes to smell people, knock the genes out, and develop genetic tools. It’s so inspiring to be able to do all these things we couldn’t do before the genome came online.”
Leslie B. Vosshall is the Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior at The Rockefeller University.
Vosshall is currently researching how environmental cues and internal physiology work together to guide complex animal behaviors. Vosshall and her team study this problem in mosquitoes and humans, applying approaches in neurobiology, behavior, genetics, and genomics. Vosshall’s team uses CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing tools to advance understanding of how the mosquitoes that spread dengue and yellow fever integrate sensory cues to hunt their human hosts. The team is also studying the rules that govern human olfaction, using data from the more than 3,000 normal subjects they have screened since 2002. This work has the potential to aid in the diagnosis of smell disorders.
Vosshall received her B.A. in Biochemistry from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from Rockefeller University. She then returned to Columbia for a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of future Nobel laureate Richard Axel from 1993-1997. Vosshall was offered the position of Assistant Professor at The Rockefeller University in 2000, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006. She served as Associate Director of the Kavli Neural Systems Institute from 2015-2016 and was promoted to Director in 2016.