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Dr Jimena Berni

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Dr Jimena Berni

Senior Research Fellow
Location: 2-03 Laboratory 3, Medical Research Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9PS

Areas of expertise: Drosophila, Development, Hox genes, motor networks, Animal behaviour, Neuroscience

Research areas: Developmental Neuroscience, Hox genes regulation and function



Jimena is a Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow at BSMS. She graduated from the University of Buenos Aires where she also did her PhD. Her main interest has always been understanding the development of animal behaviour. In 2015 she started her lab studying the role of Hox genes for the diversification of neural circuits, in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. She joined Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2019.


Jimena investigates the relation between neuronal circuits and behaviour with an emphasis on the diversification of circuits and the role of genes in specifying different neuronal networks and their assembly during development. She uses state-of-the-art techniques of Drosophila neurogenetics and combine it with the study of behavior to understand how Hox genes orchestrate the diversification of motor circuits during nervous system development. 

Jimena also uses a multidisciplinary approach, working with mathematicians, physicists and ecologists, to understand how neuronal activity generates specific patterns of exploration, with the idea that the models will provide valuable information about the neuronal characteristics of the circuits underlying specialised behaviours.



Jimena is very interested in teaching and at BSMS. She is involved in delivering lectures in Endocrinology and she teaches a Student Selected Complement on "Neurodevelopment in Health and disease". She also supervised many masters and Individual Research Projects.

Selected publications

D.W. Sims, N.E. Humphries, N. Hu, J. Berni. Optimal search patterns generated autonomously in free-moving animals without brain activity. eLife 2019;8:e50316.

Picao-Osorio J, Johnston J, Landgraf M, Berni J, Alonso CR. MicroRNA-encoded behavior in Drosophila.Science. 350(6262), 815-20 (2015)

Pulver SR, Bayley TG, Taylor AL, Berni J, Bate M, Hedwig B. Imaging fictive locomotor patterns in larval Drosophila. Journal of Neurophysioly 114(5), 2564-77 (2015)

Berni J*. Genetic dissection of a regionally differentiated network for exploratory behavior in Drosophila larvae. Current Biology 25(10), 1319-26 (2015)

J. Gjorgjieva, J. Berni, J.F. Evers, S. Eglen. Neural Circuits for Peristaltic Wave Propagation in Crawling Drosophila Larvae: Analysis and Modeling. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 7,1-19 (2013)

Berni J*, Pulver SR, Griffith LC and Bate M. Autonomous circuit for substrate exploration in freely moving Drosophila larva. Current Biology 22, 1861-1870 (2012)

Pulver SR and Berni J*. The fundamentals of flying: simple and inexpensive strategies for employing Drosophila genetics in neuroscience teaching laboratories. Journal of Undergraduated Neuroscience Education 11(1),A139-A148 (2012)

Depetris-Chauvin A*, Berni J*, Aranovich EJ*, Muraro NI, Beckwith EJ, Ceriani MF. Adult-specific electrical silencing of pacemaker neurons uncouples molecular clock from circadian outputs. Current Biology 21(21), 1783-93 (2011)

Berni J, Muldal A, Pulver SR. Using the warmth-gated ion channel TRPA1 to study the neural basis of behavior in Drosophila. Journal of Undergraduated Neuroscience Education 9(1), A5-A14 (2010)

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