Robert Burgess



Research Interests

The Burgess lab seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms of synapse formation and maintenance at two sites in the nervous system, the peripheral neuromuscular junction and the retina. We are presently examining mutations in agrin, glycyl- and tyrosyl tRNA synthetase, Dscam, and Dscam-Like1. In all of these studies, we are addressing basic molecular mechanisms, but these basic mechanisms also have relevance to a variety of human diseases. Our continued research on these genes, and our continuing effort to identify new genes involved in these processes, will increase our understanding of the molecules required to form and maintain synaptic connectivity in the nervous system.

Selected Publications

  • Fuerst, P. G., Koizumi, A., Masland, R. H., and Burgess, R. W. (2008). Neurite Arborization and Mosaic Spacing in the Mouse Retina Require DSCAM. Nature, 451, 470-474.
  • Patton, B. L., Wang, B., Tarumi, Y., Seburn, K. L., and Burgess, R. W. (2008). A Single Point Mutation in the LN Domain of LAMA2 Causes Muscular Dystrophy and Peripheral Amyelination Without Basal Lamina Disintegration. J. Cell Sci., 121, 1593-1604.
  • Fuerst, P. G., Rauch, S. M., and Burgess, R. W. (2007). Defects in Eye Development in Transgenic Mice Overexpressing the Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycan Agrin. Dev. Biol., 303, 165-180.
  • Misgeld, T., Kerschensteiner, M., Bareyre, F. M., Burgess, R. W., and Lichtman, J. W. (2007). Imaging Axonal Transport of Mitochondria in vivo. Nature Methods, 4, 559-561.
  • Seburn, K. L., Nangle, L. A., Cox, G. A., Schimmel, P., and Burgess, R. W. (2006) An Active Dominant Mutation of Glycyl-tRNA Synthetase Causes Neuropathy in a Charcot-Marie-Tooth 2D Mouse Model. Neuron, 51, 715-726.
  • Burgess, R. W., Jucius, T. J., and Ackerman, S. L. (2006). Motor Axon Guidance of the Mammalian Trochlear and Phrenic Nerves: Dependence on the Netrin Receptor Unc5c and Modifier Loci. J Neurosci., 26, 5756-5766.
  • Stacy RC, Demas J, Burgess RW, Sanes JR, Wong RO. 2005. Disruption and recovery of patterned retinal activity in the absence of acetylcholine. J Neurosci 25(41:9347-9357.
  • Patton B, Burgess RW. 2005. Synaptogenesis in Developmental Neurobiology, 4th ed., edited by Rao MS, Jacobson M. Published by Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, NY.
  • Burgess RW, Peterson KA, Johnson MJ, Roix JJ, Welsh IC, O’Brien TP. 2004. Evidence for a conserved function in synapse formation reveals Phr1 as a candidate gene for respiratory failure in newborn mice. Mol Cell Biol 24(3):1096-1105.
  • Buffelli M, Burgess RW, Feng G, Lobe C, Lichtman JW, Sanes JR. 2003. Genetic evidence that relative synaptic activity biases the outcome of synaptic competition. Nature 424:430-434.


Track leader for Neuroscience.
Neuroscience curriculum committee
Organizer for Developmental module of BMS625

Dissertation Students

Kathryn Morelli

Emily Spaulding