Erika Holzbaur, PhD

Professor Of Physiology

Lab Web Site

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638A Clinical Research Building

415 Curie Boulevard

Philadelphia, PA 19104


Lab: 215-573-3481

Fax: 215-573-2273

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Faculty Spotlight

September 2014

Erika Holzbaur, PhD

The Holzbaur lab is internationally recognized for its contributions to the cellular and biophysical analyses of molecular motor function, and its expertise in the mechanistic analyses of neurodegenerative disease. Erika Holzbaur, Ph.D. has had a long-term focus on understanding the dynamics of molecular motor driven motility along the cellular cytoskeleton, including cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin, where she has made fundamental discoveries. This motility is required to drive active transport of vesicles and organelles along the axons and dendrites of the neuron. Erika is interested in dissecting the mechanisms leading to coordinated motor activity during vesicle transport. She has shown that defects in motor function lead to neurodegenerative diseases, and a significant focus in the lab is to understand the mechanistic bases for their observations. Her training in chemistry, cell biology and molecular biology has enabled her to use a variety of technical approaches in her work; ranging from two-hybrid screens, to high resolution optical imaging, to single molecule biophysical studies, to name a few.

Erika’s enthusiasm for science, and particularly microtubule-based research, is extraordinary and infectious. She is a gifted speaker, teacher, and mentor. One cannot help but be excited about the microtubule cytoskeleton after attending one of her spirited lectures. Unfortunately for many of the rest of us, she is a magnet for graduate students! Those who have worked in her lab, whether as a PhD student, a student on rotation, or as a post-doc, have raved about her mentoring skills. Her trainees are very successful, and several are faculty at top institutions, including Washington University, NIH, University of Massachusetts, and RPI.

Erika has published over 110 peer-reviewed articles in top-ranked journals, including PNAS, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Neuron, the Journal of Neuroscience, Developmental Cell, and many more. The National Institutes of Health recently recognized her ongoing, outstanding scientific contributions by awarding her the prestigious Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award.

Erika is an actively involved citizen on the international and local scenes. She has organized numerous international meetings, she serves on several editorial boards, and she regularly reviews grant applications for several agencies. She joined Penn in 1992, and since then she has served on important University and Perelman School of Medicine committees. She has also been actively involved in teaching and administrative leadership roles in graduate education, both in the Cell and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience, Graduate Groups. She is currently the Chair of the Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Physiology, and Metabolism.

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