Erin Schuman is a neurobiologist who studies the cell biological mechanisms that underlie information processing and storage in neural circuits. In particular, she has contributed to our understanding of how proteins are synthesized locally within neuronal processes Erin Schuman was born and raised in Southern California. After completing her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Southern California, she received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Princeton University in 1990. She conducted postdoctoral studies in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. In 1993, she was appointed to the Biology Faculty at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She was also Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator from 1997-2009. In 2009, she moved to Frankfurt, Germany to found the Department of Synaptic Plasticity at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research. She received several awards and grants, including the Pew Scholars Award and the Beckman
Young Investigator Award. She also received the Society for Neuroscience?s Salpeter Lifetime Achievement (2018), the FENS-Kavli-ALBA Diversity Prize (2020), and the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2020). She is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the US National
Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Erin Schuman's lab studies the molecular and cell biological processes that control protein synthesis and degradation in neurons and their synapses. The complex morphology of neurons, with most synapses located hundreds of microns from the cell body, presents a logistical challenge for the establishment, maintenance and modification of local synaptic proteomes. Neurons have solved this problem by localizing important cell biological machines, including ribosomes and proteasomes, within dendrites and axons. Following on the lab's initial discovery in 1996 that proteins made locally in dendrites are required for synaptic plasticity,
they have pursued the identification of the mRNA and ribosome population present in neuronal dendrites and axons. In addition, they are elucidating the population of mRNAs translated in subcellular compartments as well as the nature and format of ribosomes present. In order to address the above questions, they have developed platforms to label, purify, identify and
visualize newly synthesized proteins in neurons and other cells using non-canonical amino acid metabolic labelling, click chemistry, and mutation of cell-biological enzymes (the BONCAT and FUNCAT techniques). The lab?s future work will focus on the nature and specialization of mRNA translation and protein degradation machines and mechanisms in neurons.

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology