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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences
Biology Faculty
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Department of Biological Sciences
1W14 Jonsson-Rowland Science Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Phone: (518) 276-6446
Fax: (518) 276-2344

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Biology Home Undergraduate Graduate Faculty Research News and Events Contacts
Robert E. Palazzo

Professor of Biology

Education and Training

B.S., Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 
Biology and Chemistry

Ph.D., Wayne State University, Detroit, MI,
Biological Sciences and Biochemistry

Dr. Palazzo joined Rensselaer in 2002 and currently serves as the Provost, as Professor of Biology, and as a research scientist for the Wadsworth Center with the New York State Department of Health. His previous experience includes a year as a visiting professor at Harvard University Medical School and ten years in a variety of roles with the University of Kansas. Among the roles he held in Kansas were Chair of the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and Professor for the Department of Molecular Biosciences. Prior to his work in Kansas, Palazzo spent three years as an assistant scientist/principal investigator for the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He also spent a year as a research associate and completed a three-year post doctorate in the University of Virginia’s biology department.


Tel: (518) 276-8031
Fax: (518) 276-4061

Office: Troy Bldg 3rd Floor

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy NY 12180-3596

Research Interests

Cell biology and biochemistry of centrosomes, mitosis and early development, cell-cycle regulation, fertilization and reproduction, regulation of cell motility, cell structure and function, cell evolution, protein biochemistry and drug discovery

Dr. Palazzo's research focuses on the centrosome, the major microtubule organizing center of animal cells. Centrosomes are present in a single copy in non-mitotic cells and perform two major functions:

  1. to direct the assembly and organization of microtubules.
  2. to replicate so that successive generations of daughter cells will inherit a complete centrosome.

The control of centrosome replication is important for normal cell replication during the development of animals. Failure to control centrosome replication contributes to defects in development and diseases such as cancer. The Palazzo lab studies the cellular and molecular biology of the centrosome. Project goals include:

  • identification and characterization of centrosome proteins that are necessary for centrosome assembly and reassembly.
  • understanding the mechanisms that regulate centrosome assembly during fertilization, reproduction, and cell replication.
  • understanding how the regulation of centrosome replication is tied to other cell cycle dependent events.
  • identification of drugs that disrupt centrosome assembly as potential therapeutic agents.

The lab has developed methods for:

  • large scale isolation of functional centrosomes.
  • in vitro reconstitution assays to study centrosome assembly in crude lysates and defined media.
  • assembly of hybrid centrosomes using fractions and components from  heterologous model systems, including human cell extracts.
  • screening drugs novel anti-mitotoc agents that target the centrosome.

More recently, the lab was one of a team that developed a clam EST database to allow a genomics and proteomics approach to identify genes coding for centrosome proteins. Finally, the lab has a number of assays for identification of drugs that specifically inhibit centrosome function.

Model systems used in the laboratory include mammalian cultured cells, eggs and oocytes of the Atlantic surf clam (Spisula solidissima), sea urchins, and frogs. Work is conducted at the Wadsworth Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

Selected Publications

Sankaran, S., D.E. Crone, R.E. Palazzo, J.D. Parvin.  2007. BRCA1 regulates γ-tubulin binding to centrosomes.  Cancer Biology Therapy. In press

Sankaran, S., D.E. Crone, R.E. Palazzo, J.D. Parvin. 2007.  Aurora A Kinase Regulates BRCA1 Inhibition of Centrosome-Dependent Microtubule Nucleation. Cancer Res. In press.

Peng, C., R.E. Palazzo, and I. Wilke. 2007.  Laser intensity dependence of femtosecond near-infrared optoinjection. PHYSICAL REVIEW E 75:041903.

Schnackenberg, B. J., R.E Palazzo, and W.F. Marzluff.   2007.  Cyclin E/Cdk2 is required for sperm maturation, but not DNA replication, in early sea urchin embryos. Genesis. 45:282-91.

Shang, W., J.S. Dordick, R.E. Palazzo and R.W. Siegel, 2006.  Direct patterning of centrosome arrays as templates for the assembly of microtubules. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 94:1012-1016

Alliegro, M.C., M.A. Alliegro and R.E. Palazzo 2006. Centrosome-associated RNA in surf clam oocytes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 103: 9034-9038.

Schnackenberg, B.J., D.R. Hull, R.D. Balczon, R.E. Palazzo. (2000). Reconstitution of microtubule nucleation potential in centrosomes isolated from Spisula solidissima oocytes. J. Cell Sci. 113: 943-953.

Wu, X.Y. and R.E. Palazzo 1999. Differential regulation of paternal vs. maternal centrosomes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 96: 1397-1402.

Schnackenberg, B, A. Kodjakhov, C.L. Rieder and R.E. Palazzo. 1998. The disassembly and reassembly of functional centrosomes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 95: 9295-9300.

Vogel, J.M., T. Stearns, C.L. Rieder, and R.E. Palazzo 1997. Centrosomes isolated from Spisula solidissima oocytes contain rings and an unusual stoichiometric ratio of α/β tubulin.  J. Cell Biol., 137:193-202. 

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences