The mission of IBG is to conduct and facilitate research that examines the nature and origins of individual differences in behavior and to conduct research training in this interdisciplinary area. Throughout its history, IBG has been characterized by the breadth of its interdisciplinary research and training programs. Although the methodology of behavioral genetics is generally applicable to the study of individual differences for any characteristic, current research at IBG is focused on behaviors of obvious societal relevance.

The human research, in addition to studies of drug-related behaviors, includes large-scale family, twin, and adoption studies of cognitive abilities and personality, and of disorders such as learning disabilities and psychopathology. The detection, localization, and identification of individual quantitative trait loci, using both linkage and association methods, is a high priority.

Laboratory animals are used to study drug-related behaviors, particularly those associate with the use of alcohol and nicotine. For these studies, a large number of different strains and genetically selected stocks of mice are maintained in the IBG specific-pathogen-free mouse laboratory. These include inbred and recombinant strains of mice that provide efficient tools for screening behaviors for genetic influence and mapping quantitative trait loci. Selection studies in which mice are bred for certain characteristics provide definitive proof of genetic influence and also yield animal models that are valuable for subsequent research in functional genomics.