The Scheinfeld Center for Human Genetics in the Social Sciences is devoted to the research and teaching of human behavior genetics. The center is run by Dr. Salomon Israel, head of the Biology of Social Behavior Lab and a member of the Jerusalem Brain Community (JBC) and the Autism Center of the Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center.
Research done at the Scheinfeld Center is interdisciplinary, and combines personality, social, cognitive and neuro-psychology with techniques of molecular genetics.
The center operates a genetic laboratory, equipped with advance genotyping instrumentation (Step One Plus Real-Time PCR, Thermo-Fisher Scientific). Genetic studies performed in the lab include genotyping of genetic variants and quantification of gene expression levels. By combining these tests, which capture genetic individual differences, with data from social behavioral paradigms, we examine the association between genes and behavior. In addition, the Center emphasizes applying the knowledge provided by the completion of the Human Genome Project towards a molecular understanding of the role of genes in partially contributing to all facets of human behavior.
Current research projects include: Molecular genetic studies of normal personality, autism and borderline personality disorder, and the role of genetic variation along the oxytocin-vasopressin pathway in contributing to individual differences in human social behavior.
An important function of the Scheinfeld center is to serve as the platform for teaching human behavioral genetics. The Center sponsors courses and seminars oriented toward students of social science and the humanities (Mt. Scopus). The Center also attracts students from the Faculty of Life Sciences (Givat Ram) and the Faculty of medicine (Hadassah Medical Center). Commencing with the Fall semester 2016 the following courses will be offered by Dr. Israel in the framework of the Psychology Department:
- The nature and nurture of social behavior
- Human altruism (graduate level seminar)
- The neuroendocrinology of social stress and social behavior (graduate level seminar)