Tom Schwarz's Lab

Boston Children's Hospital, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center

Our lab is focused on the cell biology of the neuron and seeks to understand how nerve cells work, acquire their shape, and make their connections. We do so with the expectation that understanding how the cell functions can give us insight into the pathology of neurological disorders when those functions fail. Moreover, much as the shape and style of a building is constrained and influenced by the properties of the building materials, so too is the architecture and circuitry of the brain dependent on how these cellular components operate.

The research interests of the Schwarz Lab include 1) axonal transport of organelles, particularly mitochondria, by kinesins and dynein; 2) the development and structural plasticity of synapses; and 3) the trafficking of membrane proteins and exocytosis, particularly in neurons. Our inquiries into these fundamental processes have brought us in contact with translational questions of neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. The etiology of Parkinson's Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, including optic nerve atrophy have become a particular concern of our group.

Projects move back and forth between Drosophila melanogaster, mice, rats, cell lines, and patient-derived stem cells as the scientific question demands. We approach each question through a combination of genetics, biochemistry, electrophysiology, cell biology, and imaging.