Alex C. Keene, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Alex Keene

Contact Information


  • Postdoc, New York University, 2008-2011
  • Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2006
  • Institute For Molecular Pathology, Vienna, 2006-2007

Research Interests:

Animals are highly tuned to sense changes in both internal and external environments and adapt their behavior accordingly. Hungry animals reduce sleep, increase foraging behavior, and prefer high-calorie foods. Our primary focus is to identify the genetic basis of this shift in behavioral choice. We focus primarily in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the blind cave-fish Astyanax mexicanus.


  • Neely, GG*, Keene AC*, Costigan M, Rosenzweig M, Garrity P, and Penninger JM. TRPA1 regulates thermal nociception in Drosophila. In Press, Plos One.
  • Dus M, Min SH, Lee GY, Keene AC, and Suh GB. Taste-independent detection of the caloric content of sugar in Drosophila. In Press. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.
  • Keene AC, Mazzoni EO, Blau J, Desplan C and Sprecher GG. Distinct photoreceptor neurons mediate Drosophila light avoidance and circadian clock entrainment. (2011) J. Neuroscience, 17: 6527-34.
  • Duboue ER, Keene AC, and Borowsky RB. Evolutionary convergence on sleep loss in cavefish populations. (2011) Current Biology 8; 671-76.
  • McDonald DM and Keene AC. The sleep-feeding conflict: Understanding behavioral integration through genetic analysis in Drosophila. (2010) Aging, 2: 1-4.
  • Keene AC, Duboue ER, McDonald DM, Dus, M, Suh GB, Waddell, S and Blau J. Clock and cycle limit starvation-induced sleep loss in Drosophila. (2010) Current Biology, 20: 1209-15.
  • Neely GG, Hess A, Costigan M, Keene AC, Goulas S, Langeslag M, Griffith RS, Belfer I, Smith, SB, Gupta V, Xia X, Aman S, Arora S, Sarangi R, Debasis D, Novatchkova M, Pospisilik JA, Rosenzwig M, Truong D, Elling U, Schramek D, Angjeli B, Zoranovic T, Cronin S, Dietzl G, , Subramaniam S, Garrity PA, Bellen HJ Woolf CJ and Penninger JM et al. A genome wide Drosophila screen for heat nociception identifies A2D3 as an evolutionarily-conserved pain gene. (2010) Cell, 4; 628-38.
  • Neely GG, Kuba K, Amann S, Isobe K, Zhang L, Cammarato A, Elmen L, Gupta V, Arora S, Srangi R, Dan D, Fuijisawa S, Usami T, Xia C, Keene AC, Pospisilik A, Elling U, Berger C, Novatchkova M, Koglgruber R, Isobe M, Imai Y, Subramaniam S, Kimura A, Bodmer R, and Penninger JM.  A global in vivo Drosophila RNAi screen identifies NOT3 as a key regulator of heart function. (2010) Cell, 14: 142-153.
  • Keene AC and Waddell S.  Drosophila olfactory memory: single genes to complex neural circuits. (2007) Nature Neuroscience Reviews. 8; 341-54.
  • Krashes MJ*, Keene AC*, Leung B, Armstrong JD, and Waddell S. Sequential use of mushroom body neuron subsets during Drosophila odor memory processing. (2007) Neuron  53;103-15.
  • Keene AC*, Krashes MJ*, Leung B, Bernard JA, and Waddell S. Drosophila Dorsal Paired Medial neurons provide a general mechanism for memory consolidation. (2006) Current Biology 16:1524-30.