Gene-Environment Interplay Research Laboratory

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Gene-environment interplay and epigenetics research-behaviour and neurogenetics

Area(s) of Expertise

Our research has proven that the nature-nurture dichotomy is dead and demonstrated that our genes are listening to our environment and responding to it. Prof. Sokolowski and her collaborators have shown that experience in early life has long-term consequences for health, learning and social functioning. The CFI LOF grant funded laboratory renovations and equipment to investigate mechanisms (epigenetics and gene-environment interactions) that embed experiences in our biology. New lab equipment included: walk-in and reach-in incubators for experiments under controlled environments; equipment for measuring gene expression and epigenetics and preparing nucleic acids; autoclave and hoods for sterilization; microscopes; and  CO2 pads to manipulate animals. This facility enables the exploration of: 1) early nutritional adversity and hypothesized links to feeding and metabolic disorders; 2) hypothesized links of social adversity to learning, memory and social cognition. Animal models allow for the precise manipulation of genes and early experience to obtain detailed knowledge about mechanisms underlying the biological embedding of early adversity. Knowledge of this interplay between genes and early environments is critical to education and health to maximize each child’s potential.

Research Services

Drosophila behavioural phenotyping

Sectors of Application
  • Education
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Policy and governance

Name of equipment in use

Description of function

Walk in and reach in Chambers with light cycle temperature and humidity control

Drosophila Rearing and Behavioural Experiments

qPCR and PCR machines

Measurements of Gene Expression and Epigenetic Research


Quantifying Green Florescent protein and other markers.





150: Dr. Marla Sokolowski: Fruitful Research on Gene Environment Interplay in Feeding Behavior of Fruit Flies

Marla Sokolowski: The Biology of Childhood Hardship