PMI Leadership Announcement

June 10, 2024
700 CRB

Announcing the appointment of Erika L. F. Holzbaur, PhD, as the new Director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute


I am pleased to join with Dr. Kevin Foskett, Chair of the Department of Physiology, to announce the appointment of Dr. Erika L. F. Holzbaur as the new director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute (PMI), effective May 1, 2024. Dr. Holzbaur is a world-renowned scientist with a research program focused on the cytoskeleton and dynamics of organelle transport in neurons.  As former program chair of the Cell Biology, Physiology, and Metabolism graduate program, and former president of the American Society for Cell Biology, Dr. Holzbaur brings a proven track record of leading and fostering strong collaboration within scientific communities. Her skills and collaborative spirit make her a perfect fit to lead the PMI in its mission.

As PMI director, Dr. Holzbaur will lead an interdisciplinary group of research investigators from PSOM and across the Penn campus.  Established more than half a century ago, the mission of the PMI is to discover the mechanisms of muscle function, muscle disease and motile biological systems; develop state-of-the art technologies for the study of muscle and motile systems; and provide education and training in muscle biology and motility to scientists, physicians, and students.  Research is conducted by its more than 50 laboratories using biophysics, biochemistry, genetics, physiology and ultrastructure to understand cell migration and intracellular transport, molecular motors, cell division, muscle contraction and development, muscle pathologies and therapies targeted to muscle disease.

For more information about Dr. Holzbaur's impressive background, please see her bio below.

Having directed the PMI for the last 14 years, collaborating with exceptional scientists like Dr. Holzbaur has been a highlight of my career.  I have every confidence that she will further elevate the rich scientific and mentoring environment for which the PMI is known. Please join in thanking Dr. Holzbaur for serving in this important leadership role.

Thank you,


E. Michael Ostap, PhD

Professor of Physiology

Interim Senior Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

[See the announcement on the website of the Office of the Chief Scientific Officer]

Erika L. F. Holzbaur, PhD is the William Maul Measey Professor of Physiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She received her B.S. with High Honors in Chemistry and History from the College of William and Mary and her PhD in Biochemistry from Penn State. Dr. Holzbaur joined the faculty at Penn in 1992, where she now holds an endowed professorship in the Department of Physiology. The Holzbaur lab studies the dynamics of organelle trafficking in neurons. Organelles including mitochondria, autophagosomes, and lysosomes are actively transported over distances of a meter or more along the axons and dendrites of neurons; defects in this trafficking are causative for both neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. The lab also investigates cellular mechanisms required to maintain neuronal homeostasis, focusing on the dynamics of autophagy and mitophagy. Defects in these pathways lead to the accumulation of dysfunctional organelles and aggregated proteins and are implicated in both Parkinson’s disease and ALS. Dr. Holzbaur has received a Porter Fellowship, the NINDS Javits Award, the Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award, the Jane M. Glick Graduate Student Teaching Award, the Sandra K. Masur Senior Leadership Award, and is a Lifetime Fellow and past President of the American Society for Cell Biology. More than 40 postdocs and students have trained in her lab, many now running research labs at top universities in the US and internationally.

Holzbaur Lab site