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Oliver Hobert seeks to understand how cell types in the nervous system are genetically programmed to acquire their unique identities. Taking a whole nervous system perspective in the nematode C. elegans, Hobert and his team use multiple approaches to define, in detail, the “hard-wired” gene regulatory networks that specify cellular differentiation programs throughout the nervous system. In addition, they are exploring how neuronal identity becomes re-specified by external and internal parameters, such as environmental conditions or the sexual identity of the organism. The team is also committed to developing, improving, and customizing methodologies to further advance C. elegans as a genetic model system.