Skip to Main Content
Ralph A. Nixon

Ralph A. Nixon, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Professor, Department of Cell Biology

regulation of protein structure and function by proteolysis and phosphorylation, cell and molecular biology of the neuronal cytoskeleton, molecular mechanisms of brain aging and cell death, pathogenesis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease, molecular, cellular, & translational neuroscience

In major neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, the abnormal accumulation of one or more polypeptides within or around neurons is central to pathogenesis. Our research focuses on two aspects of neurobiology that govern the fate of normal and pathogenic proteins: the regulation of proteolytic processing and the control of protein export into axons and synapses. We have identified dysfunction of the endosomal-lysosomal system, involving altered endocytosis and mistrafficking of proteases to endosomes, as the earliest known pathological response of neurons in Alzheimer's disease. Our cell modeling studies show early endosomes to be major generators of the toxic beta-amyloid peptide and implicate dysfunction of endosomes in the mechanism of ?-amyloid accumulation in 'sporadic' Alzheimer's, the most common form of the disease. Genetic manipulations of proteolytic systems in mice are being used, together with cell culture models, to determine the consequences of endosomal-lysosomal and calpain system dysfunction on processing of Alzheimer-related proteins, receptor-mediated signal transduction, and neuronal cell death pathways. To maintain neural circuitry, neurons transport a large proportion of their newly synthesized proteins into axons. The perikaryal accumulation of specific cytoskeletal proteins - a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's, ALS, and other neurologic diseases - is believed to arise in part from impaired axonal transport. A second interest of our research is to identify the molecular determinants of cytoskeletal protein transport and assembly in neurons. For example, we are defining the minimum structural requirements for neurofilament translocation by studying axonal transport and axon ultrastructure in mice after targeted deletion or mutagenesis of each of the three neurofilament subunit genes. Neurofilament transport is also regulated by sequential protein phosphorylation, triggered in part by signals from oligodendroglial cells. We have been determining the signaling pathways, phosphorylation sites, and functional implications of these post-translational modifications. Disease relevance is also being explored in several behavioral and psychiatric settings.



Academic office

145 East, 32nd Street

5th Floor

New York, NY 10016

Is this your profile?
These focus areas and their associated publications are derived from medical subject headings from PubMed.
represents one publication
*Due to PubMed processing times, the most recent publications may not be reflected in the timeline.

MD from University of Vermont

PhD from Harvard University

Residency, Massachusetts General Hospital, Psychiatry Residency

Residency, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, Psychiatry Residency

Im, Eunju; Jiang, Ying; Stavrides, Philip H; Darji, Sandipkumar; Erdjument-Bromage, Hediye; Neubert, Thomas A; Choi, Jun Yong; Wegiel, Jerzy; Lee, Ju-Hyun; Nixon, Ralph A

Science advances. 2023 Jul 28; 9(30):eadg1925

Yuan, Aidong; Nixon, Ralph A

Brain research bulletin. 2023 Jan; 192:115-127

Bendl, Jaroslav; Hauberg, Mads E; Girdhar, Kiran; Im, Eunju; Vicari, James M; Rahman, Samir; Fernando, Michael B; Townsley, Kayla G; Dong, Pengfei; Misir, Ruth; Kleopoulos, Steven P; Reach, Sarah M; Apontes, Pasha; Zeng, Biao; Zhang, Wen; Voloudakis, Georgios; Brennand, Kristen J; Nixon, Ralph A; Haroutunian, Vahram; Hoffman, Gabriel E; Fullard, John F; Roussos, Panos

Nature neuroscience. 2022 Oct; 25(10):1366-1378

Jiang, Ying; Alam, John J; Gomperts, Stephen N; Maruff, Paul; Lemstra, Afina W; Germann, Ursula A; Stavrides, Philip H; Darji, Sandipkumar; Malampati, Sandeep; Peddy, James; Bleiwas, Cynthia; Pawlik, Monika; Pensalfini, Anna; Yang, Dun-Sheng; Subbanna, Shivakumar; Basavarajappa, Balapal S; Smiley, John F; Gardner, Amanda; Blackburn, Kelly; Chu, Hui-May; Prins, Niels D; Teunissen, Charlotte E; Harrison, John E; Scheltens, Philip; Nixon, Ralph A

Nature communications. 2022 Sep 21; 13(1):5308

Rao, Mala V; Darji, Sandipkumar; Stavrides, Philip H; Goulbourne, Chris N; Kumar, Asok; Yang, Dun-Sheng; Yoo, Lang; Peddy, James; Lee, Ju-Hyun; Yuan, Aidong; Nixon, Ralph A

Autophagy. 2022 Sep 21; 1-16

Lee, Ju-Hyun; Yang, Dun-Sheng; Goulbourne, Chris N; Im, Eunju; Stavrides, Philip; Pensalfini, Anna; Chan, Han; Bouchet-Marquis, Cedric; Bleiwas, Cynthia; Berg, Martin J; Huo, Chunfeng; Peddy, James; Pawlik, Monika; Levy, Efrat; Rao, Mala; Staufenbiel, Mathias; Nixon, Ralph A

Nature neuroscience. 2022 Jun; 25(6):688-701