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Robert Schinzel.JPG

CIRM Research Fellow

Siebel Foundation Fellow


I received my Diploma degree in Biology from the Free University of Berlin in Germany and did my Ph.D. thesis work at Harvard University.  As a graduate student in Chad Cowan’s lab, I developed methods to grow and utilize human pluripotent stem cells as well as differentiate the cells in various tissue types. For instance, I was able to establish a system to derive human white and brown adipocytes from hPSCs by overexpression of key transcription factors.

One of the interests of the Dillin lab, is understanding how organisms respond to cellular stress.  Eukaryotic organisms evolved several organelle-specific stress response pathways to cope with stress, including the unfolded protein response (UPR-ER) of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The importance of the UPRER becomes apparent when the response is deficient; an aberrant ER stress response is known to be involved in an increasing variety of diseases, ranging from neurodegeneration to type 2 diabetes, from obesity to cancer. Intriguingly, the activation of UPR-ER target genes is not restricted to cells directly affected by the stress, but can be communicated to distal tissues. For instance, in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, expression of the dominant active IRE1-pathway target XBP1s that is restricted to neuronal tissue, is sufficient to induce UPR-ER chaperone expression throughout the animal. I work on the identification of the cell-non autonomous signal molecule and its pathway components. For this I use a human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) in-vitro system to complement the research in C. elegans. I hope that utilizing hPSCs to study the ER stress response as well as the cell-non autonomous signaling of the stress will yield important insights in understanding disease etiology and guide the development of novel therapeutic strategies




Robert Schinzel, Ryo Higuchi-Sanabria, Ophir Shalem, Erica Moehle, Brant Webster, Larry Joe, Raz Bar-Ziv, Phil Frankino, Jenni Durieux, Cory Pender, Naame Kelet, Saranya Kumar, Nupur Savalia, Hannah Chi, Milos Simic, Tram Nguyen, Andy Dillin.  The Hyaluronidase, TMEM2, Promotes ER Homeostasis and Longevity Independent of the UPRER.  Cell. 2019 Nov 27;179(6):1306-1318.e18.


Robert T. Schinzel, Andrew Dillin.  Endocrine aspects of organelle stress – cell non-autonomous signaling of mitochondria and the ER.  Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2015 Feb 9;33C:102-110

Annie Moisan, Youn-Kyoung Lee, Jitao David Zhang, Claas A. Meyer, Sannah Zoffmann, Hoa Hue

Truong, Michael Prummer, Martin Ebeling, Anna Kiialainen, Régine Gérard, Fang Xia, Robert T

Schinzel, Kurt E. Amrein, Chad A. Cowan.  White-to-brown metabolic conversion of human adipocytes by JAK inhibition.  Nat Cell Biol. 2015 Jan;17(1):57-67

Roberts LD, Boström P, O'Sullivan JF, Schinzel RT, Lewis GD, Dejam A, Lee YK, Palma MJ, Calhoun

S, Georgiadi A, Chen MH, Ramachandran VS, Larson MG, Bouchard C, Rankinen T, Souza AL, Clish CB, Wang TJ, Estall JL, Soukas AA, Cowan CA, Spiegelman BM, Gerszten RE.

β-Aminoisobutyric acid induces browning of white fat and hepatic β-oxidation and is inversely

correlated with cardiometabolic risk factors. Cell Metab. 2014 Jan 7;19(1):96-108

Oiurong Ding, Youn-Kyoung Lee, Esperance A. Schaefer, Derek T. Peters, Adrian Veres, Kevin Kim,

Nicolas Kuperwasser, Daniel L. Motola, Thorsten B. Meissner, William T. Hendriks, Mara Trevisan,

Rajat M. Gupta, Annie Moisan, Eric Banks, Max Friesen, Robert T. Schinzel, Fang Xia, Alexander

Tang, Yulei Xia, Emmanuel Figueroa, Amy Wann, Tim Ahfeldt, Laurence Daheron, Feng Zhang, Lee L. Rubin, Lee F. Peng, Raymond T. Chung, Krian Musunuru, Chad A. Cowan.  A TALEN Genome-Editing System for Generating Human Stem Cell-Based Disease Models.  Stem Cell, 2013. 12(2): p.238-51.

Tim Ahfeldt*, Robert T. Schinzel*, Youn-Kyoung Lee*, David Hendrickson, Adam Kaplan, David H.

Lum, Ray Camahort, Fang Xia, Jennifer Shay, Clary Clish, Rahul Deo, Tony Shen, Frank Lau, Alicia

Cowley, Greg Mowrer, Heba Al-Siddiqi, Mathias Nahrendorf, Kiran Musunuru, Robert Gerszten, John Rinn and Chad A. Cowan.  Programming Human Pluripotent Stem Cells into White and Brown Adipocytes, Nature Cell Biology 2012 Jan 15;14(2):209-19 (* These authors contributed equally as first authors)

Robert T. Schinzel, Tim Ahfeldt, Frank Lau, Youn-Kyoung Lee, Alicia Cowley, Tony Shen, Derek Peters, David H. Lum, Chad A. Cowan.  Efficient Culturing and Genetic Manipulation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells PLoS One.  2011;6(12):e27495 Dec 2011


Robert Schinzel, Ph.D. TeamMember
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