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David Sulzer, PhD

  • Professor of Neurobiology (in Psychiatry, Neurology and Pharmacology) at CUMC
David Sulzer, PhD

Dr. Sulzer's lab investigates the function and alteration of the synapses of the cortex and the basal ganglia including the dopamine system in normal behaviors such as habit formation and action selection, and in diseases of the system. Their work has made fundamental contributions to understanding the roles of these synapses in Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, schizophrenia, autism, and drug addiction. His laboratory developed new optical, electrophysiological and electrochemical methods including the first direct recordings of quantal neurotransmitter release from synapses, the fundamental unit of neurotransmission, and the first optical methods to observe neurotransmitter release and reuptake. His work increased the understanding of the life cycle of synaptic vesicles, cellular structures that package neurotransmitter release.

Among the discoveries and inventions of the laboratory are 1) discovery of co-release of glutamate from dopamine neurons (with Stephen Rayport) 2) introduction of the weak base mechanism of amphetamine action and the first direct measurement of reverse transport, an important property of amphetamine 3) the first recording of quantal neurotransmitter release from CNS synapses, by using amperometry at dopamine terminals 4) discovery of multiple means to alter quantal size, including the effects of L-DOPA, amphetamine, vesicle transporter expression (with Robert Edwards), rebound hyperacidification, and discovery of fusion pore flickering 5) discovery of the biosynthetic pathway of neuromelanin 6) introduction of & the role of autophagic degradation in synaptic development, which may underlie forms of autism, 7) discovery of how alpha-synuclein and other proteins are degraded by chaperone-mediated autophagy, which may underlie forms of Parkinson’s (with Ana Maria Cuervo) 8) the first optical analysis of corticostriatal transmission, showing the role of activity, dopamine, and acetylcholine in synaptic selection (with Nigel Bamford) 9) co-invention of fluorescent false neurotransmitters, the first optical means to observe neurotransmitter release and reuptake from CNS terminals (with Dalibor Sames) 10) discovered the role of glutamate in controlling axonal outgrowth and branching 11) discovery of antigen presentation by neurons targeted in Parkinson’s disease, which may underlie targeted cell death.

The Sulzer lab has published over 140 papers on this research and has received awards from the McKnight, Helmsely, Picower, Michael J Fox, Simons, HDSA Foundations, NIH, and NARSAD.

Departmental Appointments

  • Department of Neurology
    Division of Movement Disorders
  • Department of Psychiatry
    Division of Molecular Therapeutics

Centers/Institutes/Programs

  • Research Laboratories for Parkinson's Disease

Lab Locations

  • 650 West 168th Street
    Black Building, Room 305
    New York, NY 10032
    Phone:
    (212) 305-3967
    Fax:
    (212) 305-5450
    Email:
    ds43@cumc.columbia.edu

Research Interests

  • Synapses and Circuits
  • Neural Degeneration and Repair

NIH Grants

  • DEVELOPMENT OF FLUORESCENT FALSE NEUROTRANSMITTERS (Federal Gov)

    May 18 2015 - Feb 29 2020

    CELLULAR AND PHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS OF PARKINSON S DISEASE PATHOGENESIS (Private)

    Sep 1 2015 - Oct 31 2018

    PRESYNAPTIC MECHANISMS IN DOPAMINE NEUROTRANSMISSION (Federal Gov)

    Sep 30 2013 - Aug 31 2018

    NEUROINFLAMMATION VIA T-CELL RESPONSE IN PARKINSON S AND LEWY BODY DISEASES (Private)

    Jan 1 2016 - Dec 31 2017

    NEURONAL TRANSLATION IN TSC2+/-AND FMR1-/Y MUTANT ASD MOUSE MODELS (Private)

    Jul 1 2015 - Jun 30 2017

    OPTICAL ANALYSIS OF CORTICAL DOPAMINE TRANSMISSION (Private)

    Mar 15 2016 - Mar 14 2017

    PARKINSONS DISEASE FOUNDATION RESEARCH CENTER GRANT (Private)

    Jul 1 2000 - Jun 30 2016

    IDENTIFICATION OF AUTOIMMUNITY IN PARKINSON S (Private)

    Sep 1 2014 - Aug 31 2015

    MECHANISMS OF SUBSTANTIA NIGRA NEURONAL DEATH IN PARKINSON S DISEASE (Private)

    Sep 1 2012 - Aug 31 2015

    MECHANISMS OF DOPAMINE NEURON DEGENERATION (Federal Gov)

    Aug 1 2000 - Jul 31 2015

    PHYSIOLOGICAL ROLE OF LYSOSOMAL LRRK2 IN THE REGULATION OF CMA (Private)

    Jul 1 2013 - Jun 30 2015

    PARKINSONS DISEASE FOUNDATION RESEARCH CENTER GRANT (Private)

    Jul 1 2000 - Jun 30 2015

    ALTERED ASTROCYTE-NEURON INTERACTIONS AND EPILEPTOGENESIS IN TUBEROUS SCLEROSIS COMPLEX DISORDER (Federal Gov)

    Jun 1 2012 - May 31 2015

    ALCOHOL AND DOPAMINE RELEASE: CELLULAR AND SYNAPTIC MECHANISMS (Federal Gov)

    Jul 15 2010 - Apr 30 2015

    MECHANISMS OF PARKINSON S DISEASE PATHOGENESIS (Private)

    Oct 15 2011 - Oct 14 2014

    CHARACTERIZATION OF A SELECTIVE LACK OF MACROAUTOPHAGY IN DIRECT PATHWAY MEDIUM SPINY NEURONS (Private)

    Jul 1 2014 - Aug 31 2014

    COLLABORATIVE EFFORT IN STEM CELL BIOLOGY (Private)

    Jul 1 2010 - Jun 30 2014

    PARKINSON S DISEASE FOUNDATION RESEARCH CENTE (Private)

    Jul 1 2000 - Jun 30 2014

    PARKINSON S DISEASE FOUNDATION RESEARCH CENTE (Private)

    Jul 1 2000 - Jun 30 2014

    IMPLICATIONS OF ANTIGEN PRESENTATION BY DOPAMINERGIC NEURONS IN AN AAV2-SYNUCLEIN MOUSE MODEL OF PARKINSON S DISEASE (Private)

    Jun 1 2013 - May 31 2014

    MECHANISMS OF SUBSTANTIA NIGRA NEURONAL DEATH IN PARKINSON S DISEASE (Private)

    Oct 15 2011 - Oct 14 2013

    GLUCOCEREBROSIDASE AND MITOCHONDRIAL AUTOPHAGY IN DOPAMINERGIC NEURONS (Private)

    Jul 1 2011 - Sep 30 2013

    ABERRANT SYNAPTIC FORM AND FUNCTION DUE TO TSC-MTOR-RELATED MUTATION IN AUTISM (Private)

    Jul 1 2010 - Jun 30 2013

    BASIC NEUROSCIENCE TRAINING GRANT AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY (Federal Gov)

    Jul 1 2010 - Jun 30 2013

    PARKINSONS DISEASE FOUNDATION (PDF) RESEARCH CENTER GRANT 2012-2013 (Private)

    Jul 1 2009 - Jun 30 2013

    PRESYNAPTIC PLASTICITY OF VESICULAR DOPAMINE RELEASE (Federal Gov)

    Jul 15 2012 - Apr 30 2013

    GLYT1 INHIBITORS PROMOTE DOPAMINERGIC STRIATAL SPROUTING (Private)

    Jul 1 2011 - Jun 30 2012

    PRESYNAPTIC PLASTICITY OF VESICULAR DOPAMINE RELEASE (Federal Gov)

    Sep 30 1995 - May 31 2012

    RHYTHMICITY AND SYNCHRONY IN THE BASAL GANGLIA (Federal Gov)

    Aug 1 2010 - Jul 31 2011

    ABERRANT SYNAPTIC FUNCTION DUE TO TSC MUTATION IN AUTISM (Private)

    Jul 1 2008 - Jun 30 2011

    SPECTRA-PHYSICS MAI TAI HP LASER (Federal Gov)

    Mar 25 2010 - Mar 24 2011