Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz received her B.A. from Swarthmore College, her M.S. in Biology from Stanford University, and her Ph.D in Biochemistry from Johns Hopkins University. She did post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Klausner. She is currently Chief of the Section on Organelle Biology in the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at National Institutes of Health and an NIH Distinguished Investigator.
Lippincott-Schwartz's research uses live cell imaging approaches to analyze the spatio-temporal behavior and dynamic interactions of molecules and organelles in cells. Her group has pioneered the use of green fluorescent protein (GFP) technology for quantitative analysis and modeling of intracellular protein traffic and organelle biogenesis in live cells and embryos, providing novel insights into cell compartmentalization, protein trafficking and organelle inheritance. Most recently, her research has focused on the development and use of photoactivatable fluorescent proteins, which ‘switch on’ in response to UV light. One application of these proteins she has put to use is photoactivated localization microscopy, (i.e., PALM), a super resolution imaging technique that enables visualization of molecule distributions at high density at the nano-scale.
Her work has been recognized with election to the National Academy of Sciences (2008) and the National Institute of Medicine (2009), and with the Royal Microscopy Society Pearse Prize (2010) and the Society of Histochemistry Feulgen Prize (2001). Dr. Lippincott-Schwartz is currently Editor for Current Protocols in Cell Biology and The Journal of Cell Science and is on the editorial boards of Cell, Physiology and Integrative Biology. She is President-elect of the American Society of Cell Biology and has had leadership roles in the Biophysical Society. She serves on the advisory board for the Searle Scholar Program and scientific review board of Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and is a non-resident Faculty Fellow of the Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA.
Navigating the cellular landscape with new optical probes, imaging strategies and technical innovations
Emerging visualization technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the study of numerous aspects of cell biology, capturing processes at the level of whole organisms down to single molecules. Recent developments in probes, techniques, microscopes and quantification are dramatically expanding the areas of productive imaging. Photoactivatable fluorescent proteins (PA-FPs) have been particular fruitful in this regard. They become bright and visible upon being exposed to a pulse of UV light. This allows selected populations of proteins to be pulse-labeled and tracked over time. Used for in cellulo pulse chase experiments, the PA-FPs have helped clarify mechanisms for biogenesis, targeting, and maintenance of organelles as separate identities within cells. PA-FPs has further permitted the development of single molecule-based super resolution (SR) imaging, which dramatically improves the spatial resolution of light microscopy by over an order of magnitude (~10-20 nm resolution). Involving the controlled activation and sampling of sparse subsets of photoconvertible fluorescent molecules, single molecule SR imaging offers exciting possibilities for obtaining molecule scale information on biological events occurring at variable time scales. Here, she discusses the new fluorescent imaging techniques and the ways they are helping researchers navigate through the cell to unravel long-standing biological questions.
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