Lab of Jacob Schwartz

Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry,
University of Arizona

Connecting basic
chemistry to
biological outcomes

Our lab investigates the links from the basic structure and chemistry of biomolecules to their biological function. We are inspired to investigate biological questions uncovered during the study of human disease. Thus, in our research we seek to concurrently impact our basic understanding of biology and biological chemistry, advance our understanding of disease, and contribute to the development of improved therapeutic strategies for disease.


Without a basic understanding of biology the possibilities for innovation that can change our lives and health become limited. We strive in each of our projects to open new spaces in basic biologic research that address fundamental questions about mechanisms in biology. We are developing new biological approaches and biotechnologies to open unexplored and understudied biological mechanisms.


To say ALS is a “devastating” neurodegenerative disease hardly covers it. It is relentless. There is no cure. There’s no therapy that can slow the progression of this disease. There’s not even bioassay to definitively diagnose the disease. More than 5000 patients are diagnosed with ALS in America each year. The average patient lives for three years following diagnosis. The death of motor neurons lead to continued paralysis and loss of muscle control, known as muscle atrophy.


That a link may exist between two completely unrelated pathologies, ALS and Ewing’s sarcoma, is a case of truth being stranger than fiction. Ewing’s sarcoma is the second most common pediatric bone cancer and diagnosed in more than 200 patients each year, mostly children.


RNA binding

“Intrinsically disordered RGG/RG domains mediate degenerate specificity in RNA binding.” NAR, 2017

Basic RNA biology

"Biochemical properties and biological functions of FET proteins”, Annu. Rev Biochem 2015

ALS pathology

FUS is sequestered in nuclear aggregates in ALS patient fibroblasts” Mol Biol Cell 2014

Jacob Schwartz

Valery Thompson

Tetsuya Kawaguchi

In 2010, Jacob earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and in the lab of David R. Corey.

Val brings to the lab years of expertise in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Tetsuya received his PhD in 2012 from Tokyo Medical and Dental University in the lab of Tetsuro Hirose.

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