David Sulzer, PhD

Profile Headshot

Overview

Academic Appointments

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

Administrative Titles

  • School of the Arts/Sound Arts
  • Pharmacology

Dave Sulzer is a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, Pharmacology, and at the School of the Arts at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute. He attended Michigan State University, studied plant breeding and genetics at the University of Florida, and received a PhD in biology from Columbia University. His lab has published over 200 studies on synaptic function in normal and diseased states that are cited over 40,000 times (h-index 86). He is the founder of the Dopamine Society, the Gordon Conference on Parkinson’s Disease, and the journal Nature Parkinson’s Disease.

He has received awards from the McKnight, Simons, Helmsley, NARSAD, Huntington’s, and Aaron Diamond Foundations and given named lectureships at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard, Yale, UCSF, Emory, UC Irvine, and the Universities of Minnesota, Jerusalem and London and the Portuguese and Austrian Societies for Neuroscience. His students and postdocs have received Fulbright, Marshall, and Regeneron awards for their work in the lab, and past trainees are professors at Columbia, Rutgers, Cornell, Yale, Lund, Pittsburgh, Jefferson, Tufts, Emory, Karolinska, Ecole Normale Superieure, and NYU, while one who runs a pharmaceutical company and one is the science editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Gender

  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • PhD, Biology, Columbia

Honors & Awards

2021 11th Annual Neuroscience Seminar, Tufts University

2020 Neuroscience for Mental Health Seminar, McGill University

2020 Raymond D. Adams Lecture, Harvard University Mass General Hospital, Dept. Neurology,

2020 Killam Seminar, Montreal Neurological Institute

2020 Frontiers in Neuroscience Seminar, Emory University

2020 Plenary Speaker, NEURO2020 Global Summit on Research and Innovation in Neurodegenerative Disorders, Salmanaca (invited by Queen Sofia) (rescheduled for 2021)

2020 Chair, Dopamine 2020 conference, Montreal (with Louis-Eric Trudeau) (rescheduled for 2021)

2020 Plenary Speaker, Movement Disorders Society, Miami, Florida

2020 Youdim / Finberg Award for research in Psychiatry Hebrew University, Jerusalem

2020 Plenary Speaker, Keystone Meeting on Neuroimmune Reactions in the CNS

2019 founded the Dopamine Society (with Louis-Eric Trudeau, U. Montreal)

2019 Plenary Speaker, joint annual meetings of Austrian Neuroscience Association and Austrian Pharmacological Society

2019 Keynote Speaker, Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) on Parkinson’s Disease

2019 Distinguished Lecture in Medicinal Chemistry, University of Minnesota

2019 External Scientific Advisory Board, University of Alabama Udall Center

2018 Annual Graduate Student Invitation Seminar, Tulane University

2018 Annual Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Invitation Seminar, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Amsterdam

2018 Schaefer Award to lab (for research by Maria Minacci)

2018 Keynote Speaker, inaugural Southeastern Neurodegenerative Disease Conference, Orlando, Florida

2018- External Scientific Advisory Board, Johns Hopkins Udall Center

2017 Chair Study Section Department of Defense Parkinson’s Research Program

2017 Presidential Lecture, Society of Neuroimmune Pharmacology

2017 Editorial Board, Journal of Parkinson’s Disease

2016 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Award

2016 Keynote Lecture, Van Andel Retreat, Michigan State University

2016 Plenary Seminar, Monitoring Molecules in Neuroscience, U Goteberg, Sweden

2015 Plenary Seminar, Movement Disorders Society, San Diego

2015 2015 Distinguished Lecture, University of California Irvine

2015 Founding Chair, Gordon Conference on Parkinson’s Disease

2015 Founding Editor, Nature (NPG) Parkinson’s Disease

2015 Keynote Seminar, Wheeler Center, UCSF

2015 University of California, Irvine, Medical Scientist Training Program Distinguished Lecture Series

2014 National Institute of Neurological Disorders, Board of Scientific Counselors

2014 Faculty of 1000 Board

2014 Keynote Speaker (with Brad Garton), NIH Annual Graduate Student Retreat

2013 Helmsley Award for Research

2013 Adjunct Professor School of the Arts, Columbia University

2013 Plenary Seminar, Nebraska Research and Innovation Conference, U. Medical School Creighton University

2012 Plenary Seminar, Monitoring Molecules in Neuroscience, Imperial College, London

2012 Keynote Lecture in Cellular Neuroscience, Yale University

2012 Frontiers of Neuroscience, Emory University

2012-2018 Board of Scientific Directors, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

2011 Vatican Lecture (with audience with the Pope) Dopamine and Parkinson’s Disease Symposia, Vatican City

2010 Faculty of 1000

2009 Spring Seminar, Michigan State University

2008 McKnight Award in Neuroscience for Technological Innovation

2008 Spring Symposium Lecture, University of Michigan,

2007 Columbia Integrated Science & Engineering Award (with Dalibor Sames)

2007 Plenary talk, 50 Years of Dopamine, Gothenburg, Sweden

2004 Picower Foundation Award

2003 Cassy Bachner Award, Huntington’s Diseases Society of America

2002 Frontiers of Neuroscience, Emory University

2002 Cutting Edge Seminar, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, MD

2002 Killam Lecture, McGill University, Montreal

2000 Leadership Award, Huntington's Disease Society of America

1999 NARSAD Independent Investigator Award

1996 James T. Shannon Award, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH

1989 NARSAD Young Investigator Award

1988 Howard Hughes Postdoctoral Award

Research

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.

Research Interests

  • Synapses and Circuits
  • Neurodegeneration and repair
  • Learning and behavior
  • Neuroimmunology
  • Cell Biology

Grants

DOPAMINE SYNAPSES AND OPERANT CONDITIONING (Federal Gov)

Feb 15 2019 - Nov 30 2023

AUTOIMMUNE FEATURES OF NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDERS (Federal Gov)

Sep 30 2018 - Jul 31 2023

CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR BASIS FOR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT ASSOCIATED WITH GLUCOCEREBROSIDASE (GBA1) MUTATION (Federal Gov)

Sep 30 2018 - Jul 31 2023

PATHOLOGICAL STRIATOPALLIDAL NEURONAL ENSEMBLES IN LEARNED MOTOR IMPAIRMENT IN PD (Federal Gov)

Sep 1 2018 - May 31 2023

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

Nov 1 2018 - Oct 31 2021

REGULATION OF STRIATAL MATURATION BY DOPAMINE AND MACROAUTOPHAGY: IMPLICATIONS FOR NEUROPSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS (Federal Gov)

Sep 15 2017 - Aug 14 2021

THE STRIATAL CHOLINERGIC INTERNEURONS IN PARKINSON S DISEASE AND TREATMENT (Federal Gov)

May 1 2017 - Feb 28 2021

DEVELOPMENT OF FLUORESCENT FALSE NEUROTRANSMITTERS (Federal Gov)

May 18 2015 - Feb 29 2020

OPTICAL IMAGING OF DOPAMINE KINETICS IN PREFRONTAL CORTEX OF NORMAL AND SCHIZOPHRENIA MODEL MICE (Federal Gov)

Jun 1 2016 - Aug 31 2019

REGULATION OF STRIATAL NEURONS DEVELOPMENTAL MATURATION BY MTOR/AUTOPHAGY AND DOPAMINE (Private)

Aug 1 2017 - Jul 31 2019

IMPAIRED MTOR-MACROAUTOPHAGY AND NEUROCOGNITIVE DEFICITS IN TUBEROUS SCLEROSIS COMPLEX (Federal Gov)

Jun 15 2016 - Jul 14 2019

EFFECTS OF CANNABIS ON NEURONAL TRANSLATION (Federal Gov)

Apr 1 2016 - Mar 31 2019

WILLIAM L. RICHTER FAMILY FOUNDATION AWARD (Private)

Dec 1 2016 - Nov 30 2018

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

Sep 1 2015 - Oct 31 2018

DEVELOPING A TETRAMER LIBRARY AS A BIOMARKER FOR AUTOIMMUNITY IN PARKINSON S DISEASE (Private)

Jun 14 2016 - Dec 31 2017

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

Jan 1 2016 - Dec 31 2017

AUTOPHAGY PATHWAY AS A NOVEL THERAPEUTIC TARGET IN AUTISM (Private)

Sep 1 2016 - Aug 31 2017

PARKINSON S DISEASE FOUNDATION (PDF) RESEARCH CENTER GRANT (Private)

Jul 1 2016 - Jun 30 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

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 20 10-2011 (Private)

Jul 1 2009 - Jun 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

Selected Publications

Lieberman, O.J., M.D. Frier, A.F. McGuirt, C.J. Griffey, E. Rafikian, M. Yang, A. Yamamoto, A. Borgkvist, E. Santini, and D. Sulzer. 2020. Cell-type-specific regulation of neuronal intrinsic excitability by macroautophagy. eLife. 9. PMID: 31913125

David Sulzer, Roy Alcalay, Francesca Garretti, Lucien Cote, Ellen Kanter, Christopher Liong, Carla Oseroff, John Pham, Myles B Dillon, Chelsea Carpenter, Daniela Weiskopf, Elizabeth Phillips, Simon Mallal, Bjoern Peters, April Frazier, Cecilia S. Lindestam Arlehamn, Alessandro Sette (2017). T cells of Parkinson’s disease patients recognize alpha-synuclein peptides. Nature, 546:656-661. PMID:28636593

Tang, G., Gudsnjk K., Kuo S-H, Cotrina M, Rosokliga G., Sonders M, Kanter E., Barnard C, Yamamoto A, Yue Z, Champagne F, Dwork, A. J., Goldman J., Sulzer, D. (2014) Dendritic spine pruning defects in autism mediated by neuronal loss of macroautophagy. Neuron, 83:1-13. PMID: 25155956

Cebrian, C., Budhu, S., Zucca, F.A., Mauri, Pl, Mandelbaum, J., Scherzer, C., Vonsattel, J.P., Zecca, L., Loike, J.D., Sulzer, D. (2014) MHC-I expression renders catecholaminergic neurons susceptible to T-cell mediated degeneration. Nature Communications, 16:1-14. PMID:24736453

Daniela B. Pereira, Yvonne Schmitz, Jozsef Meszaros, Paolomi Merchant, Gang Hu, Shu Li, Adam Henke, Jose E. Lizardi-Ortiz, Richard J. Karpowicz Jr, Mark Sonders, Ellen Kanter, Pamela C. Rodriguez, Eugene Mosharov, Dalibor Sames, David Sulzer (2016) Imaging individual synapses with novel fluorescent false neurotransmitter FFN200 reveals a low density of active striatal dopamine terminal. Nature Neuroscience, 19:578-586. PMID:26900925