Dan Tracey is a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology at Indiana University Bloomington as well as the Linda and Jack Gill Chair of Neuroscience. Those who follow him on Twitter know him as @Hoosierflyman.
Tracey uses Drosophila melanogaster, a species of fruit fly, as his model organism to understand the general principles that govern the specification and function of neuronal circuits. The fruit fly has a relatively simplified nervous system that must perform many of the same computations that are carried out by the human nervous system. Although it has a simplified brain, the fruit fly performs an array of complex behaviors.
The Tracey research lab's primary focus is to use the fly model to identify circuits and genes that function in nociception in order to achieve a greater understanding of pain signaling.
Tracey was interviewed by the scientific journal Current Biology about his life, love of fruit flies, and the serendipitous events that led to his discovery of the Drosophila gene painless.
Learn how Tracey came to do what he does today, what he'd do if he wasn't, and more!