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Alex Keene

Dr. Alex Keene
  • Associate Professor
  • FAU Biological Sciences
  • 561-799-8053 (Jupiter), 561-297-4681 (Boca Raton)
  • Jupiter - MC-19, 202
  • Boca Raton - SC, 207


  • Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2006

Research Interests

  • Understanding the neural basis through which sleep and feeding state interact
  • Investigating the neural circuitry regulating taste memory
  • Developing Mexican cavefish as a model for investigating the evolution of sleep in response to environmental change

Research Description

A central challenge in neuroscience is to understand how genes and neural circuits regulate behavior. Our research focuses on the molecular basis for sleep and memory formation using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and the Mexican blind Cavefish. Powerful genetic tools in the fruit fly allow for precise manipulation of neural circuits, large-scale genetic screens, and temporal regulation of gene expression. We have used these approaches to identify novel genes regulating sleep-metabolism interactions and map neural circuitry regulating of memory formation. We are currently seeking to build upon these studies by examining the neural basis for memory impairment following sleep deprivation. In addition, we are interested in understanding how sleep evolves in response to environmental challenge. We are addressing this through experimental evolution studies in fruit flies selected for starvation resistance and through studies investigating the genetic basis for sleep loss in the blind Mexican cavefish.

Recent Publications

  • Slocumb, M.E., Regalado, J.M., Yoshizawa, M., Neely, G.G., Masek, P., Gibbs, A.G. and Keene, A.C. (2015). Enhanced sleep is an evolutionarily adaptive response to starvation stress in Drosophila. Plos one 6:e0131275.
  • Masek, P., Worden, K., Aso, Y., Rubin, G.M. and Keene. A.C. (2015). A dopamine-modulated neural circuit regulating aversive taste memory in Drosophila. Curr Biol 25:1535-1541.
  • Yoshizawa, M., Robinson, B.G., Duboue, E.R., Masek, P., O’Quin, K.E., Borowsky, R.L., Jeffery, W.R. and Keene A.C. (2015). Distinct genetic architecture underlies the emergence of foraging traits in the Mexican cavefish. BMC Biology 13:15.
  • Masek, P., Reynolds, L., Bollinger, W.L., Moody, C., Mehta, A., Yoshizawa, M., Gibbs, A., and Keene, A.C. (2014). Altered sleep and feeding contribute to starvation resistance in Drosophila. J Exp Biol 1:3122-3132.

Scholarly Activities

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