Ronald L. Schnaar, Ph.D.

Headshot of Ronald L. Schnaar
  • John Jacob Abel Professor of Pharmacology
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Research Interests

Neuroglycobiology; Glycobiology; Cell-cell interactions in the nervous system; Cell-cell interactions in the control of inflammation more


Dr. Ronald Schnaar is the John Jacob Abel Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences and Professor of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

His team studies glycans and glycan-binding proteins as therapeutic targets in inflammatory diseases, Alzheimer's disease, and ganglioside functions in the brain.

Dr. Schnaar received his undergraduate degree in Cellular Biology from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He completed postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins and a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Schnaar joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1979.

Dr. Schnaar has served as President of the Society for Glycobiology, Editor-in-chief of the journal Glycobiology, board member of FASEB, and director of the Pharmacology Graduate Program at Johns Hopkins.

His work has been recognized with various honors, including the Karl Meyer Award from the Society for Glycobiology and the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. more


  • John Jacob Abel Professor of Pharmacology
  • Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences
  • Professor of Neuroscience

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D.; Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) (1976)
  • B.S.; University of Michigan (Michigan) (1972)

Additional Training

  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1977; National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 1979

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Schnaar's research focuses on:

Cell-cell interactions in inflammation – Engaging the lectin Siglec-8 on the surface of human eosinophils, basophils, and mast cells results in apoptosis and inhibition of immune mediator release, inhibiting allergic inflammation. His team has identified glycan structures that bind to Siglec-8 and that represent lead compounds for glycan-based asthma therapy, including endogenous counter-receptors in human airways that control eosinophilic inflammation.

Sialoglycans in the control of nervous system proteinopathies. Immune inhibitory Siglecs are expressed on brain microglia, where they regulate the clearance of misfolded proteins. Key to this interaction are endogenous brain sialoglycans that engage microglial Siglecs. Knowledge of these structures and their expression in human proteinopathies such as Alzheimer's Disease promises new avenues to alter disease progression. 

Gangliosides are a class of sialoglycans that represent major molecular determinants on the surfaces of all mammalian cells, but particularly nerve cells. Gangliosides bind specifically to their own cell surface proteins and proteins on other cells to regulate nervous system functions. Chemical biology probes are being used to identify the mammalian ganglioside interactome. 


Lab Website: Ronald Schnaar Lab

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Büll C, Nason R, Sun L, Van Coillie J, Madriz Sørensen D, Moons SJ, Yang Z, Arbitman S, Fernandes SM, Furukawa S, McBride R, Nycholat CM, Adema GJ, Paulson JC, Schnaar RL, Boltje TJ, Clausen H, Narimatsu Y. Probing the binding specificities of human Siglecs by cell-based glycan arrays. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 118:e2026102118. 2021

Gonzalez-Gil A, Li TA, Porell RN, Fernandes SM, Tarbox HE, Lee HS, Aoki K, Tiemeyer M, Kim J, Schnaar RL. Isolation, identification and characterization of the human airway ligand for the eosinophil and mast cell immunoinhibitory receptor Siglec-8. J Allergy Clin Immunol 147:1442-1452. 2021

Li TA, Schnaar RL. Congenital Disorders of Ganglioside Biosynthesis. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci 156:63-82, 2018.

Schnaar RL. Gangliosides of the vertebrate nervous system. J Mol Biol 428:3325-3336, 2016

Contact for Research Inquiries

Wood Basic Science Building
725 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-955-8392
Fax: 410-955-3023

Email me

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Graduate Program Affiliation

Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences

Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI) Program


Activities & Honors


  • Program of Excellence Award in Glycosciences, National Heart, 2011
  • Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award (NINDS, NIH, 2005 - 2012
  • Graduate Student Teaching Award, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine , 1988
  • Faculty Research Award, American Cancer Society , 1984
  • Junior Faculty Research Award, American Cancer Society , 1981
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Cancer Society , 1978
  • Baccalaureate Degree – Highest Honors, 1972
  • Karl Meyer Award, Society for Glycobiology, 2014

Professional Activities

  • Advisory Board, National Research Council (Canada), 2005 - 2011
  • Chair, Physiological Chemistry Study Section, 1992 - 1994
  • Director, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1999 - 2006
  • Editor in chief, Glycobiology, 2001 - 2010
  • Editorial Board, FASEB Journal, 2012
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1997 - 2002
  • FASEB Board of Directors, 2013
  • President, Society for Glycobiology, 2005
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Glycominds Ltd., 2001 - 2003
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Glycomed Inc., 1989 - 1994
  • Steering Committee, NHLBI Programs of Excellence in Glycosciences, 2011
  • Steering Committee, NIGMS, 2002 - 2012
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