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Dr. Schwarz 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. They do so with the expectation that understanding how the cell functions can give them 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 Dr. 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. Their inquiries into these fundamental processes have brought them in contact with translational questions of neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. The etiology of Parkinson's Disease and peripheral neuropathies have become a particular concern of their group. Projects move back and forth between Drosophila melanogaster, mice, rats, and cell lines as the scientific question demands. They approach each question through a combination of genetics, biochemistry, electrophysiology, cell biology, and imaging.