Robert Burgess


Stanford University, 1996, Ph.D.
Michigan State University, 1990, B.S.

Research Interests

  • Development
  • Neurobiology
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neurogenetics
  • Neuroscience

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. In all of these studies, we are addressing basic molecular mechanisms, but these basic mechanisms have relevance to human neuromuscular and neurodevelopmental disorders. Our continued research on the genetics underlying these disorders, 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.

Dr. Burgess received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Michigan State University, and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University. After doing postdoctoral research at Washington University, St. Louis, he joined the faculty of The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME, in 2001. Dr. Burgess’ research is funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the National Institutes of Health.

Selected Publications

  • Zuko A, Mallik M, Thompson R, Spaulding EL, Wienand AR, Been M, Tadenev ALD, van Bakel N, Sijlmans C, Santos LA, Bussmann J, Catinozzi M, Das S, Kulshrestha D, Burgess RW, Ignatova Z, Storkebaum E. tRNA overexpression rescues peripheral neuropathy caused by mutations in tRNA synthetase. Science. 2021 Sep 3;373(6559):1161-1166. doi: 10.1126/science.abb3356.
  • Tribble JR, Otmani A, Sun S, Ellis SA, Cimaglia G, Vohra R, Jöe M, Lardner E, Venkataraman AP, Domínguez-Vicent A, Kokkali E, Rho S, Jóhannesson G, Burgess RW, Fuerst PG, Brautaset R, Kolko M, Morgan JE, Crowston JG, Votruba M, Williams PA. Nicotinamide provides neuroprotection in glaucoma by protecting against mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction. Redox Biol. 2021 Jul;43:101988. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2021.101988.
  • Spaulding EL, Hines TJ, Bais P, Tadenev ALD, Schneider R, Jewett D, Pattavina B, Pratt SL, Morelli KH, Stum MG, Hill DP, Gobet C, Pipis M, Reilly MM, Jennings MJ, Horvath R, Bai Y, Shy ME, Alvarez-Castelao B, Schuman EM, Bogdanik LP, Storkebaum E, Burgess RW. The integrated stress response contributes to tRNA synthetase-associated peripheral neuropathy. Science. 2021 Sep 3;373(6559):1156-1161. doi: 10.1126/science.abb3414.
  • Presa M, Bailey RM, Davis C, Murphy T, Cook J, Walls R, Wilpan H, Bogdanik L, Lenk GM, Burgess RW, Gray SJ, Lutz C. AAV9-mediated FIG4 delivery prolongs life span in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4J mouse model. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jun 1;131(11):e137159. doi: 10.1172/JCI137159.
  • Spaulding EL, Burgess RW (2017) Accumulating Evidence for Axonal Translation in Neuronal Homeostasis. Front Neurosci 11:312.
  • Morelli KH, Seburn KL, Schroeder DG, Spaulding EL, Dionne LA, Cox GA, Burgess RW (2017) Severity of Demyelinating and Axonal Neuropathy Mouse Models Is Modified by Genes Affecting Structure and Function of Peripheral Nodes. Cell reports 18:3178-3191.
  • Garrett AM, Tadenev AL, Hammond YT, Fuerst PG, Burgess RW (2016) Replacing the PDZ-interacting C-termini of DSCAM and DSCAML1 with epitope tags causes different phenotypic severity in different cell populations. eLife 5.
  • Spaulding EL, Sleigh JN, Morelli KH, Pinter MJ, Burgess RW, Seburn KL (2016) Synaptic Deficits at Neuromuscular Junctions in Two Mouse Models of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Type 2d. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 36:3254-3267.
  • He W, Bai G, Zhou H, Wei N, White NM, Lauer J, Liu H, Shi Y, Dumitru CD, Lettieri K, Shubayev V, Jordanova A, Guergueltcheva V, Griffin PR, Burgess RW, Pfaff SL, Yang XL (2015) CMT2D neuropathy is linked to the neomorphic binding activity of glycyl-tRNA synthetase. Nature 526:710-714.
  • Motley WW, Seburn KL, Nawaz MH, Miers KE, Cheng J, Antonellis A, Green ED, Talbot K, Yang XL, Fischbeck KH, Burgess RW (2011) Charcot-Marie-Tooth-Linked Mutant GARS Is Toxic to Peripheral Neurons Independent of Wild-Type GARS Levels. PLoS Genet 7:e1002399
  • Fuerst PG, Bruce F, Tian M, Wei W, Elstrott J, Feller MB, Erskine L, Singer JH, Burgess RW (2009) DSCAM and DSCAML1 function in self-avoidance in multiple cell types in the developing mouse retina. Neuron 64:484-497.
  • 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.

Full List of Publications


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

Dissertation Students

Robert Burgess

George Murray