Bruce Schnapp, Ph.D.

Bruce Schnapp
Bruce Schnapp, Ph.D.
Office: RJH 5522

Primarily dedicated to medical and graduate student education.

Dr. Schnapp moved his laboratory to OHSU in 2001 from the Dept. of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School, where he was an Associate Professor for 11 years.

Dr. Schnapp is an internationally recognized expert on cytoskeletal motor proteins. He participated in the discovery of these proteins by pioneering the use of video microscopy to visualize single microtubules in real time, and by devising a tour-de-force experiment in which the same transport filament could be seen in both the light and electron microscopes. Over the years, Dr. Schnapp’s laboratory has unraveled many of the fundamental molecular mechanisms through which cytoskeletal motor proteins transport cargoes within cells.

Dr. Schnapp earned his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1976. Following postdoctoral training in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Schnapp joined the NIH in 1983. While with NIH (1983-1989) Dr. Schnapp maintained his laboratory at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA) in order to work with squid giant axons. It was during this period that Dr. Schnapp and his collaborators (Tom Reese, Michael Sheetz and Ron Vale) discovered cytoplasmic microtubule motors and their fundamental role in axonal transport. In 1989 Dr. Schnapp was appointed Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology at Boston University Medical School, where he and his collaborators (Dr. Steven Block and Karel Svoboda at the Rowland Institute, Boston, MA) performed seminal studies on the biophysical mechanism of kinesin motility. This work introduced laser traps to the study of cytoskeletal motor proteins and revealed that single motor molecules walk along the microtubule in a step-wise manner. In 1991 Dr. Schnapp moved his laboratory to Harvard Medical School where he continued his research on cytoskeletal motor proteins, focusing on how they are attached to cargoes. Here he also made key discoveries pertaining to how maternal mRNAs become localized in oocytes. 

Dr. Schnapp’s laboratory continued both research avenues at OHSU until 2012, at which time Dr. Schnapp stopped maintaining an active lab and started devoting all of his effort toward teaching.  He now teaches extensively in the areas of cell and tissue biology to students in the medical and graduate schools.