Comparative Medicine
mouse next to a tube

The lab uses an integrated interdisciplinary approach, best described as developmental neuroethology, to address issues in human and animal well-being. The lab has a particular focus on two closely related issues: 1) Developing methods and underlying psychobiological principles to predict and prevent abnormal behavior (in animals) and mental disorder (in humans). 2) Identifying the general reasons why animal models often fail to predict human outcomes, and providing solutions to improve the efficacy and well-being of animal models. Both these issues reflect the interface between animal-based medical research, and animal well-being. The medical research community has long recognized that “good well-being is good science” – the lab’s work is directed at exploring this interface, while providing tangible deliverables for the well-being of human patients and research animals.

For instance, current projects in the lab include: (on the animal well-being side) optimal design and the impacts of nesting enrichments on the behavior, physiology, and well-being of laboratory mice; and (on the human health side) on the development of predictive biomarkers and preventative dietary interventions in a mouse model of trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling). The lab also works collaboratively on farm-animal and zoo-animal well-being issues with the colleagues around the world.

Dr. Garner serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Trichotillomania Learning Center, the major organization for Trichotillomania, Compulsive Skin Picking, and related disorders; on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Tourette Syndrome Association; and on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation. The lab’s work in mouse well-being was recognized recently when Dr. Garner was the inaugural awardee of the UFAW Professor William Russell Fellowship. For a full list of service activities and honors, please visit Dr. Garner’s CAP profile.

A full list of the lab’s publications (including links to publication PDFs and citation information) can be accessed at Google Scholar.

The lab hosts This international collaborative project documents the ethogram (or behavioral repertoire) of the laboratory mouse, and includes a video library, as well as protocols for recording and scoring laboratory mouse behavior in the homecage. In addition, the lab provides a variety of services to help researchers on campus implement 3Rs approaches to improve the welfare of their research animals, from behavioral management, to biostatistics, to 3D printing services. Visit the TRI-Lab page for more information.


Joseph Garner, DPhil
Associate Professor
(650) 725-0940 (fax) [jgarner]

Jerome Geronimo, RLATg,CVT
Research Assistant [jeromeg]

Laura Huntley
Grad student [lhuntley]

Cesar Castro
Animal Care Assistant


Julia Tsai [jtsai16]

Ben Bravo






J D Haddon
Matt Higgins
Alex Scott
Brianna Brown
Jaclyn Phi
Elisabeth Dee

Postdoc Researcher:

Christopher Howerton


Compulsive grooming behavior in C57BL/6J mice. (A) Alopecia resulting from compulsive hairplucking behavior (barbering). In this example, the mouse in the top of the figure panel has plucked hair from the mouse in the bottom of the figure panel. (B) Open sores characteristic of mice with ulcerative dermatitis (UD). Nutr Neurosci 13(6), 256-265, 2010

mice in nesting material

Example of a nest built with a combination of tissue and the shredded paper strips. Note how the tissue is intertwined with the shredded paper strips, creating a 2-layer nest. JAALAS 47(6), 25-31, 2008



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