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Faculty & Research


Ronald Schnaar

Department Affiliation Primary: Pharmacology
Secondary: Neuroscience
Phone Numbers(410) 955-8392
Fax: (410) 955-3023
School of Medicine AddressWBSB 318
725 N. Wolfe St.
Baltimore MD 21205
Link to Lab Homepage
Ronald Schnaar

Research Topic: Molecular basis of cell-cell interactions in the nervous and immune systems; glycobiology

Our work bridges from biochemical to preclinical translational studies to harness the power of glycobiology for therapeutic benefits. All cells are endowed with a diverse coat of glycans, their “glycocalyx,” which represents the face of the cell to the outside world. Glycans (complex sugar molecules) and complementary glycan-binding proteins (lectins) interact in highly specific ways to establish cell-cell interactions and regulate cell functions. Knowledge of these interactions provides opportunities to modify glycan-lectin interactions for therapeutic benefit. We discovered glycans on nerve cells that interact with a lectin on myelin to maintain axon health and regulate axon outgrowth, leading to our studies that modified nerve glycans in vivo to enhance axon regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury. We also discovered glycans that regulate immune cell function in allergic inflammation, knowledge that could lead to new treatments for asthma. Expanding technology in glycobiology promises expanding opportunities for discovery and development of novel therapeutics.


Yoo SW, Motari MG, Susuki K, Prendergast J, Mountney A, Hurtado A, Schnaar RL. Sialylation regulates brain structure and function. FASEB J. 29:3040-3053, 2015.
Jia Y, Yu H, Fernandes SM, Wei Y, Gil AG, Motari MG, Vajn K, Stevens WW, Peters AT, Bochner BS, Kern RC, Schleimer RP, Schnaar RL. Expression of ligands for Siglec 8 and Siglec-9 in human airways and airway cells. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 135:799-810, 2015.
PubMed Reference
Schnaar RL. Glycans and glycan binding proteins in immune regulation: A concise introduction to glycobiology for the allergist. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 135:609-15, 2015.
PubMed Reference
Schnaar RL, Gerardy-Schahn R, Hildebrandt H. Sialic acids in the brain: gangliosides and polysialic acid in nervous system development, stability, disease, and regeneration. Physiol Rev. 94:461-518, 2014
PubMed Reference
Prendergast J, Umanah GKE, Yoo S-W, Lageröf O, Motari M, Cole RN, Huganir RL, Dawson TM, Dawson VL, Schnaar RL. Ganglioside regulation of AMPA receptor trafficking. J. Neurosci. 34:13246-13258, 2014.
PubMed Reference

Kiwamoto T, Brummet ME, Wu F, Motari MG, Smith DF, *Schnaar RL*, Zhu Z, Bochner BS. Mice deficient in St3gal3 gene product α2,3 sialyltransferase (ST3Gal-lll) exhibit enhanced allergic eosinophilic airway inflammation. J Allergy Clin. Immunol. 133:240-247, 2014
PubMed Reference