Dr Will Norton

Associate Professor of Animal Biology

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5078



Will Norton completed a BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield before moving to UCL to study for a PhD with Steve Wilson. Dr Norton then spent ten years as a postdoc working in EMBL in Heidelberg, the Helmholtz centre in Munich and the CNRS in Gif-sur-Yvette France.

Dr Norton moved to the University of Leicester in 2012, accepting a lectureship position in the department of Biology. He is now an associate professor of Animal Biology in the department of Genetics and Genome Biology, and acts as programme team lead for Genetics, Zoology and Biological Science degrees in the School of Biological Sciences.


Dr Norton’s research investigates the genes and neural circuits that control aggression, with links to human psychiatric disorders that include aggression as a symptom such as autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Dr Norton is also interested in promoting fish welfare by improving the techniques used to handle them in the lab. Recent funding has come from the NC3Rs, Marie-Curie foundation, and the EU framework programme.


CA Tilley, H Carreño Gutierrez, M Sebire, O Obasaju, F Reichammn, I Katsiadaki, I Barber and WHJ Norton. Skin swabbing is a refined technique to collect DNA from model fish species. Scientific Reports 2020;10:18212.

F Reichmann, N Rimmer, CA Tilley, E Dalla Vecchia, J Pinion, L Al Oustah, H Carreño Gutierrez, AMJ Young, JR McDearmid, MJ Winter and WHJ Norton. The zebrafish histamine H3 receptor modulates aggression, neural activity and forebrain functional connectivity. Acta Physiologica 2020;230(4):e13543.

HC Gutierrez, I Vacca, G Schoenmacker, M Cleal, A Tochwin, B O'Connor, AMJ Young, AA Vasquez, MJ Winter, MO Parker and WHJ Norton. Screening for drugs to reduce zebrafish aggression identifies caffeine and sildenafil. European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2020;30:17-29

H Carreño Gutierrez, S Colanesi, B Cooper, F Reichmann, AMJ Young, RN Kelsh and WHJ Norton. Endothelin neurotransmitter signalling controls zebrafish social behaviour. Scientific Reports 2019;9:3040

E Dalla Vecchia, N Mortimer, VS Palladino, S Kittel-Schneider, KP Lesch, A Reif, A Schenck and WHJ Norton. Cross-species models of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder: lessons from CNTNAP2, ADGRL3, and PARK2. Psychiatric Genetics 2019;29:1-17

WHJ Norton. Screening for drugs to reduce aggression in zebrafish. Neuropharmacology 2018;156:107394

A Bitetti, AC Mallory, E Golini, C Carrieri, H Carreño Gutierrez, E Perlas, YA Pérez-Rico, GP Tocchini-Valentini, AJ Enright, WHJ Norton, S Mandillo, D O'Carroll and A Shkumatava. MicroRNA degradation by a conserved target RNA regulates animal behavior. Nature structural & molecular biology 2018;25(3):244-251

C Breacker, I Barber, WHJ Norton, JR McDearmid and CA Tilley. A Low-Cost Method of Skin Swabbing for the Collection of DNA Samples from Small Laboratory Fish. Zebrafish 2017;14(1):35-41

LJ Jones, JE McCutcheon, AM Young and WHJ Norton. Neurochemical measurements in the zebrafish brain. Frontiers in behavioural neuroscience 2015;9:246

M Lange, WHJ Norton, M Coolen, M Chaminade, S Merker, F Proft, A Schmitt, P Vernier, KP Lesch and L Bally-Cuif. The ADHD-susceptibility gene lphn3.1 modulates dopaminergic neuron formation and locomotor activity during zebrafish development. Molecular Psychiatry 2012;17(9):946-954


Dr Norton teaches the following modules across the Biological Sciences courses.

  • BS1000 First year tutorials
  • BS1070 Biodiversity and Behaviour
  • BS3016 Neuroscience Futures
  • BS3078 Subtropical Physiology and Behaviour
  • BS3080 Behavioural Ecology
  • BS3X00 Final year projects.
  • MCBG Phase 1 Medical Cell Biology and Genetics

Press and media

  • Skin swabbing as a technique to collect DNA from fish species
  • Fish welfare research


  • Member of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Fisheries Society of the British Isles
  • EuFishBioMed (the European Zebrafish Society)


Honorary Professor, Faculty of Science, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.


  • PhD, Development Neuroscience
  • BSc, Neuroscience

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