Kohl Lab

Kohl Lab | State-dependent Neural processing

francis crick institute (london, UK)














Our goal is to understand how internal states shape information processing in the brain. Instinctive behaviors such as parenting, aggression or mating are orchestrated by evolutionarily sculpted neural circuits. Considerable progress has been made in deconstructing these circuits, but is has also become clear that their function profoundly depends on the animal's current physiological – i.e. reproductive, metabolic etc. – state. We know little about the molecular, cellular and circuit-level mechanisms by which such states alter neural processing in vivo. Studying these mechanisms will provide us with crucial insights into brain function in health and disease. We will use a multidisciplinary approach, combining molecular and cellular biology, circuit neuroscience and behavioral analysis to address these questions.


Circuit logic of internal state changes

We will study how physiological states such as stress, sleep or hunger affect information processing at the level of entire circuits to instruct appropriate behavioral changes. We will make use of a broad range of state-of-the-art approaches (viral tracing, in vivo imaging / electrophysiology, optogenetics, behavioral assays) for this purpose.


Tool development

We are developing novel genetic and viral tools to (1) visualize and interrogate neural circuits underlying instinctive behaviors and (2) determine how the function of these circuits is affected by internal states.





JOnny KOhl - PI

After studying Biochemistry, pre-clinical Medicine and Neurosciences in Germany, Jonny joined Greg Jefferis' group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK for his PhD. There, he worked on sexually dimorphic pheromone processing in Drosophila and developed novel strategies for ultra-fast labeling of tissues. He was awarded the Max Perutz Prize for his PhD work. He subsequently joined Catherine Dulac's lab at Harvard as a postdoc, supported by fellowships from EMBO, HFSP and the Wellcome Trust. His work in the Dulac lab focused on deconstructing the circuits underlying parental behavior in male and female mice. He has been continuing this work in Tiago Branco's group at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, supported by a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. In early 2019, he started his own group at The Francis Crick Institute in London, UK.


PATTY WAI - Senior Laboratory Research Scientist

Patty studied Biochemistry at the University of Sussex and then went on to work in the lab of Dr Rachael Natrajan in the Functional Genomics lab at the Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK), first as a Scientific Officer and later Higher Scientific Officer. She focused on functionally characterising genetic alterations in cancer and how these genetic dependencies could be exploited therapeutically. She then joined the lab of Dr Ilaria Malanchi at The Francis Crick Institute, studying the tumour microenvironment. In 2019, Patty will join the Kohl lab as a Senior Laboratory Research Scientist.







Google Scholar | Research Gate


Autry AE, Wu Z, Kohl J, Bambah-Mukku D, Rubinstein ND, Marin-Rodriguez B, Carta I, Sedwick V and Dulac C. Perifornical area Urocortin-3 neurons promote infant-directed neglect and aggression. bioRxiv https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2019/07/09/697334.full.pdf


Kohl J. Circuits for care. Science 362(6411):168-169. doi: 10.1126/science.aav1249. pdf

Kohl J, Babayan BM, Rubinstein ND, Autry AE, Marin-Rodriguez B, Kapoor V, Miyamichi K, Zweifel LS, Luo L and Dulac C. Functional circuit architecture underlying parental behaviour. Nature 556(7701):326-331. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0027-0. pdf

Kohl J and Dulac C. Neural control of parental behaviors. Curr Op. Neurobiol. 49:116-122. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.02.002. pdf


Kohl J, Autry AE and Dulac C. The neurobiology of parenting: A neural circuit perspective. Bioessays 39(1): 1-11. doi: 10.1002/bies.201600159. pdf


Renier N, Adams EL, Kirst C, Wu Z, Azevedo R, Kohl J, Autry AE, Kadiri L, Umadevi K, Zhou Y, Wang VX, Tang CY, Olsen O, Dulac C, Osten P, Tessier-Lavigne M. Mapping of brain activity by automated volume analysis of immediate early genes. Cell 165(7): 1789-1802. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.05.007. pdf


Kohl J, Huoviala P and Jefferis GSXE. Pheromone processing in Drosophila. Curr Op. Neurobiol. 34: 149-57. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2015.06.009. pdf

Schneider R, Hosy E, Kohl J, Klueva J, Choquet D, Thomas U, Voigt A and Heine M. Mobility of calcium channels in the presynaptic membrane. Neuron 86(3): 672-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.050. pdf


Kohl J, Ng J, Cachero S, Ciabatti E, Dolan MJ, Sutcliffe B, Tozer A, Ruehle S, Krueger D, Frechter S, Branco T, Tripodi M, Jefferis GSXE. Ultrafast tissue staining with chemical tags. PNAS 111(36): E3805-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1411087111. pdf


Kohl J, Ostrovsky AD, Frechter S and Jefferis GSXE. A bidirectional circuit switch reroutes pheromone signals in male and female brains. Cell 155(7): 1610-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.025. pdf


Kohl J and Jefferis GSXE. Decoding the fly brain. Current Biology 21(1): R19-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.11.067. pdf





coming soon!



We are looking for highly motivated and creative people to join the lab. The Kohl lab will provide a dynamic research environment with exceptional resources in one of the most exciting scientific hubs in the world.

Postdoctoral Fellows - position Available

If you are interested in joining the group as a postdoc, please contact Jonny with (1) a cover letter detailing prior research experience and future career goals, (2) a CV and (3) the names and contact details of 2-3 referees. Fully funded positions are available, but all applicants are encouraged to apply for external funding (e.g. EMBO, HFSP, Sir Henry Wellcome, Branco Weiss, DFG, SNF, Newton International and EU Marie Curie fellowships).  

We are especially keen to recruit people with a background in neuroscience and expertise in patch-clamp electrophysiology, optical imaging or transcriptional profiling (e.g. scRNA-seq), but all strong applications will be considered seriously. Strong quantitative and programming skills are always a bonus. You should typically apply at least 6 months in advance of when you would ideally like to start.

Phd studentS

Prospective students who would like to carry out a PhD in the Kohl lab should contact Jonny and include a CV. We welcome applications from motivated students of a broad range of backgrounds (Biological Sciences, Engineering, Computer Science etc.) that are interested in using cellular biology, mouse genetics, transcriptomics, neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, optogenetics, in vivo calcium imaging, and behavioral assays to study state-dependent neural processing. Graduate students will join the lab via the four-year Crick PhD Programme (applications open early October).


Undergraduate students interested in an internship can apply to the Crick-Calleva Summer Student Programme (deadline late January).




Johannes Kohl, PhD

The Francis Crick Institute
1 Midland Road
London NW1 1AT, UK