Johannes Larsch, Assistant Professor

We currently have multiple fully funded openings for PhD students and PostDocs. To inquire about the positions, please contact Johannes Larsch directly. To apply, please include a letter describing your motivation to join the lab.


Johannes studied Biology at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Working on olfaction in Drosophila melanogaster with Giovanni Galizia and Leslie Vosshall, he developed a passion for neuronal circuits that control behavior. For his PhD, he joined the lab of Cori Bargmann at the Rockefeller University. There, he used the exquisite genetic tricks available in the roundworm C. elegans to study how activity in a handful of neurons guides locomotion of an animal towards food. In 2015, Johannes returned to Germany for a postdoc with Herwig Baier at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology. During this time, he turned his attention to swarm behavior in the tropical zebrafish Danio rerio to ask how individuals recognize each other and where in the brain this recognition takes place.

In 2023, Johannes joined the Center for Integrative Genomics as an Assistant Professor.

Research Summary

The main focus of the lab is to understand social interactions in terms of neuronal function. How do animals solve the challenge of coordinating group behavior using their individual brains? As a model, we study young zebrafish which are innately social, optically transparent, and offer powerful genetic and molecular tools for monitoring and manipulating neurons. In many of our experiments, we use virtual reality to trick individual fish into fictive interactions and to measure the response to social signals in the brain via optical imaging. Using these tools, we define the neuronal cell types contributing to social behavior and how they function differently in individuals with extreme social behavior.

Selected Publications

Kappel, J.M., Förster, D., Slangewal, K., Shainer, I., Svara, F., Donovan, J.C., Sherman, S., Januszewski, M., Baier, H., and Larsch, J. (2022). Visual recognition of social signals by a tectothalamic neural circuit. Nature 608, 146–152.

Pantoja, C., Larsch, J., Laurell, E., Marquart, G., Kunst, M., and Baier, H. (2020). Rapid Effects of Selection on Brain-wide Activity and Behavior. Current Biology 30, 3647-3656.e3.

Larsch, J., and Baier, H. (2018). Biological Motion as an Innate Perceptual Mechanism Driving Social Affiliation. Current Biology 28, 3523-3532.e4.


Google Scholar profile:




Johannes Larsch

Tel: +41 21 692 3919


Administrative assistant

Lise Rolée
Tel: +41 21 692 3900