Christopher J. Potter, Ph.D.

Headshot of Christopher J. Potter
  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Research Interests

Neural circuits required for insect olfaction


Dr. Chris Potter is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research focuses on how the brain processes olfactory information. His team is engaged in characterizing the anatomy, development and function of neurons required for olfactory behaviors in both the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster and the mosquito Anopheles gambiae.

Dr. Potter received his undergraduate degree with honors in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroscience at Stanford University. Dr. Potter joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2010.

His work has been recognized with various awards, including a research grant from the Whitehall Foundation, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. more


  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • B.A.; University of California (California) (1996)
  • Ph.D.; Yale University (Connecticut) (2002)

Additional Training

Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 2010, Biology/Neuroscience

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Potter’s research focuses on how sensory information from the external environment is received, processed and interpreted by the brain. His team is interested in how neurons and circuits function in the brain to achieve a common goal (olfaction). They also develop, use and build molecular and genetic tools that allow them to directly alter neuronal functions in a living organism. They then determine how their neuronal manipulations altered the behavior of an animal.

The research in Dr. Potter’s lab is focused primarily on the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster and the mosquito Anopheles gambiae. His team developed the "Q-system," a repressible binary expression system, that allows for investigating neuronal populations. They use this system to label and manipulate small populations of neurons and assay their effects on olfactory behaviors.

More information can be found on Dr. Potter's lab page (


Lab Website: Christopher Potter Lab

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Chin SG, Maguire SE, Huoviala P, Jefferis GSXE, Potter CJ (2018) Olfactory Neurons and Brain Centers Directing Oviposition Decisions in Drosophila. Cell Reports 24, 1667-1678

Riabinina, O, Task, D, Marr, E, Lin, C-C, Alford R, O'Brochta, DA, Potter, CJ (2016) Organization of Olfactory Centers in the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Nature Communications 7, 1–12.

Lin, C-C, Potter, CJ (2016) Editing Transgenic DNA Components by Inducible Gene Replacement in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 203(4) 1613-1628; DOI: 10.1534/genetics.116.191783;

Lin, C-C., Prokop-Prigge, KA, Preti, G and Potter CJ (2015) Food odors trigger Drosophila males to deposit a pheromone that guides aggregation and female oviposition decisions. eLife, Full-text Article.

Riabinina, O., Luginbuhl, D., Marr, E., Liu, S., Wu, M.N., Luo, L., and Potter, C.J (2015) Improved and expanded Q-system reagents for genetic manipulations. Nature Methods, 12:219-222.

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation


Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Activities & Honors


  • Outstanding Undergraduate Geneticist Award, University of California, 1996
  • RO1 Grant, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) , 2013
  • Grant, Whitehall Foundation, 2011
  • Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship, 2003 - 2006
  • Discovery Award, Johns Hopkins University, 2017 - 2018
  • R21, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2015
  • Synergy Discovery Award, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2014
  • Pilot Fund Award, Malaria Research Institute, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2015
  • R21, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 2018


  • Society for Neuroscience


  • Association for Chemoreception Sciences


  • Genetics Society of America


Videos & Media

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Fruit Fly Pheromone Flags Great Real Estate for Starting a Family, Johns Hopkins Medicine (October 12, 2015)

How the Brain Smells, Johns Hopkins Medicine (January 2011)

Breaking Barriers to Discovery, Johns Hopkins Medicine (October 6, 2014)

Zika: All Hands on Deck, Johns Hopkins Medicine (July 2016)

Altering the ‘Flavor’ of Humans Could Help Fight Malaria, Johns Hopkins Medicine (October 10, 2016)

Interview by Jessica Berman, Voice of America (October 12, 2016)

Interview with BBC World Service, BBC (October 11, 2016)

Interview by Luke Dormehl, Digital Trends (October 11, 2016)

Interview by Dongeun Lee, Korean News Channel (October 18, 2016)

Using Mosquito Brains to Fight Malaria, IN DEPTH story in Johns Hopkins Fundamentals  (October 2016)

Interview by Brian Mastroianni, CBS News (October 17, 2016)

On the Record, with Sheilah Kast, WYPR Radio. What Mosquitoes Smell, and Why We Should Care, WYPR (June 27, 2017)

Patient Ratings & Comments

The Patient Rating score is an average of all responses to physician related questions on the national CG-CAHPS Medical Practice patient experience survey through Press Ganey. Responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score. Comments are also gathered from our CG-CAHPS Medical Practice Survey through Press Ganey and displayed in their entirety. Patients are de-identified for confidentiality and patient privacy.

Is this you? Edit Profile
back to top button