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H. Robert Horvitz wants to understand how genes control animal development and behavior. Horvitz and his team use the nematode C. elegans as a model system to identify and analyze evolutionarily conserved molecular and cellular pathways involved in developmental processes such as programmed cell death, developmental timing, cell lineage, and cell fate. The team also analyzes pathways involved in behaviors such as feeding, egg laying, and locomotion, and seeks to understand how the environment, environmental stresses, and experience modulate these behaviors. They also study the neurodegenerative disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with an aim to identify and characterize causative genes and disease alleles.