de Bono Group

Genes, Circuits, and Behavior

The De Bono Group seeks to discover and then dissect basic molecular mechanisms that underpin the functions of neurons and neural circuits. Neurons are highly specialized cells and many fundamental questions about their organization, function and plasticity remain unaddressed.

They initiate many of their studies in C. elegans, because of its advantages for molecular and cellular neuroscience. They can identify and visualize each neuron of this animal in vivo, selectively manipulate it using transgenes, and monitor its activity with genetically-encoded sensors. Powerful genetics and advanced genomic resources make high-throughput forward genetics and single neuron profiling possible. They can also complement their genetics with excellent biochemistry, to get at molecular mechanisms that are usually conserved from the worm to man. They aim to take discoveries made in the worm into mammalian models.

To achieve their goals they are deconstructing global animal states in molecular and circuitry terms. An animal state is a coordinated response to a threat (e.g. predators) or opportunity (e.g. a potential mate). Such states arise from dynamically reconfigured neural circuits that optimize the response to the situation encountered. Hallmarks include a change in arousal, rearranged responsiveness to sensory cues, and altered physiology, with effects that often outlast the evoking stimulus.

Group Leader

On this site:


Current Projects


Laurent P, Ch’ng Q, Jospin M, Chen C, Lorenzo R, de Bono M. 2018. Genetic dissection of neuropeptide cell biology at high and low activity in a defined sensory neuron. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115(29), E6890–E6899. View

McLachlan IG, Beets I, de Bono M, Heiman MG. 2018. A neuronal MAP kinase constrains growth of a Caenorhabditis elegans sensory dendrite throughout the life of the organism. PLOS Genetics. 14(6), e1007435. View

Oda S, Toyoshima Y, de Bono M. 2017. Modulation of sensory information processing by a neuroglobin in Caenorhabditis elegans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114(23), E4658–E4665. View

Fenk LA, de Bono M. 2017. Memory of recent oxygen experience switches pheromone valence inCaenorhabditis elegans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114(16), 4195–4200. View

Chen C, Itakura E, Nelson GM, Sheng M, Laurent P, Fenk LA, Butcher RA, Hegde RS, de Bono M. 2017. IL-17 is a neuromodulator of Caenorhabditis elegans sensory responses. Nature. 542(7639), 43–48. View

View All Publications


2019 Professor, IST Austria
2004–2019 Tenured Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
1999–2004 Tenure-track Group Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
1997–1999 Research Associate Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UCSF, San Francisco, USA
1995–1997 Wellcome Trust Travelling Prize Fellow, UCSF, San Francisco, USA
1995 PhD, University of Cambridge, UK

Selected Distinctions

2018 Wellcome Investigator Award
2011 Advanced Grant ERC
2014 Honorary Appointment, Garvan Medical Institute, Australia
2011 CoEN Award (Centre of Excellence in Neurodegeneration)
2006 Human Frontiers Science Program Organization grant
2007 Elected to EMBO
2005 The Balfour Lecture, The Genetics Society, UK
2004 Max Perutz Prize, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
1995 Wellcome Trust Prize Fellowship
1990 Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship
1990 Research Studentship, Trinity College, University of Cambridge

Additional Information

Download CV
Open de Bono website

Back to Top