Genetic Research

The Center for Human Genetics in the Social Sciences is devoted to the research and teaching of human behavior genetics. The Center emphasizes applying the knowledge provided by the completion of the first phase of the Human Genome Project towards a molecular understanding of the role of genes in partially contributing to all facets of human behavior. The Center sponsors courses and seminars in human behavior genetics oriented toward students of psychology, sociology, anthropology, education and neurobiology.


Research done at the Center is interdisciplinary, and combines personality, social, cognitive and neuro-psychology with techniques of molecular genetics. Courses are given both in the Faculty of Social Sciences (Mt. Scopus) and in collaboration with the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School (Ein Kerem). The Center attracts students of the Social Sciences as well as students from Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences of the Faculty of Science.


Prof. Ebstein has two Ph.D. students from the Psychology Department (Rachel-Bachner Melman & Eyal Heled), 2 MA students in Psychology (Ziva Cohen & Osnat Reimann) and 8 MS students from Life Sciences and Human Genetic departments of the Hebrew University (Chen Rosenberg, Efrat Laibe, Gady Leiba, Elad Lerer, Raz Levin, Edan Shalev , Shira Weizman & Raz Levin) . We are also the hosts this fall of a German psychology student (David Brauer) from Dresden who is learning molecular genetics in our laboratory.


Current research projects include: Molecular Genetic Studies of Normal Personality, Psychological and Genetic Aspects of Eating Disorders, especially Anorexia Nervosa, Mapping Genes to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Molecular Genetic Investigations of Autism, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder, Molecular Genetic and Personality Aspects of Substance Abuse including Smoking.


Notably, new areas of research which we have now undertaken include (1) investigations of the molecular genetic underpinnings of musical memory (with Dr. Roni Granot, Musical Cognition Department, Hebrew University); (2) molecular genetic investigations of human altruism (with Prof. Gary Bornstein and Dr. Ariel Knafo in the HU Psychology Department) (3) Brain imaging studies of reward and substance abuse – genetic aspects (with Dr. Aviv Weinstein and Roland Chisin, MD, Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital) and (4) molecular genetic studies of human sexuality ( with Prof. Chisin at Hadassah Hospital and Prof. R. H. Belmaker at the Ben-Gurion University); (5) Molecular genetic studies of prepulse inhibition- an important endophenotype in schizophrenia and other behavioral disorders.



An important function of the Center is to serve as the platform for teaching human behavioral genetics. Commencing with the Fall semester 2005 the following courses will be offered by Prof. Ebstein in the framework of the Center and the Psychology Department of the Hebrew University.

1. Human Behavioral Genetics

2. Genetics of Abnormal Behavior

3. Sociobiology & Evolutionary Psychology

4. Graduate level seminar course “Clinical Aspects of Eating Disorders”

5. Undergraduate course on Eating Behavior.

6. In collaboration with the Hadassah HU medical school “Genetics of Complex Diseases” (Human Genetics Department).

7. Prof. Ebstein is also a member of the Neurobiology Forum.