Alan Horwitz

Horwitz, Alan F.

Primary Appointment

Professor of Research, Cell Biology


  • BA, Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • PhD, Biophysics, Stanford University
  • Postdoc, NMR, University of California, Berkeley, CA

Contact Information

PO Box 800732
Telephone: 434-243-6813

Research Disciplines

Biophysics, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience

Research Interests

Synapse Formation and Cell Migration in Normal and Pathobiology-Adhesion, Signaling, Imaging and Proteomics

Research Description

Our major research goal is to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie directed

cell migration from its initiation to its termination. This interest stems from

the pivotal role of migration in a variety of normal and pathological processes

extending from the development to the adult. During development, for example,

cells migrate from their birthplaces to distant locations where they then differentiate.

While this process is repeated throughout the embryo, it plays out spectacularly

in the nervous system. Neuronal precursors migrate from their birthplaces to their

final residences and then proceed to extend neuronal growth cones to their targets,

where they form synaptic connections with appropriate target cells. In this context,

it is no surprise that a large fraction of the congenital brain and heart defects

arise from perturbed cell migration. Migration contributes to numerous pathological

phenomena as well. It plays a pivotally role in the formation of tumors, which

requires the invasion of vasculature as well as in metastasis, the spread of tumors

from the primary tumor mass to distant sites where secondary tumors form. Migration

also contributes to other disease processes including chronic inflammatory diseases,

via leukocyte invasion and vascular disease via smooth muscle migration. Finally,

migration participates centrally in normal tissue regeneration and wound repair.

Current research projects include: a) the assembly and disassembly of

, b) the trafficking of adhesion components,

c) characterizing the migration proteome d) developing

in vivo systems for studying migration
e) developing

new imaging technologies for migration studies
, and f) studying

mechanisms of synapse formation and spine dynamic
s. While most of our

studies utilize migrating fibroblasts and neuronal cells, we are interested in

any aspect of migration and migration related phenomena - from embryonic development

to cancer and regeneration.

Selected Publications