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Ronald L. Schnaar, Ph.D.

Headshot of Ronald L. Schnaar
  • Director, Lung Inflammatory Disease Program of Excellence in Glycoscience
  • 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 a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His research focuses on glycobiology. His team discovered that an enzyme, sialidase, improves nerve regrowth, motor recovery and nervous system function in rats with spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Schnaar also serves as director of the Lung Inflammatory Disease Program of Excellence in Glycoscience.

His team is currently studying glycans and glycan-binding proteins in inflammatory lung diseases; ganglioside function in the brain; and HIV-Tat and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.

Dr. Schnaar received his undergraduate degree in cellular biology from the University of Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. from the 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 1980.

Dr. Schnaar was the director of the pharmacology graduate program at Johns Hopkins from 1999 to 2006.

He serves on the editorial board of FASEB Journal and on the FASEB board of directors. His work has been recognized with various honors, including the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. more


  • Director, Lung Inflammatory Disease Program of Excellence in Glycoscience
  • 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 a glycan structure that binds to Siglec-8 and that represents a lead compound for glycan-based asthma therapy, and they are now seeking the endogenous counter-receptors in human lung that control eosinophilic inflammation.

Sialoglycans in the control of nervous system structure and function – The discovery of Dr. Schnaar's lab that AMPARs and AMPAR trafficking proteins engage with specific brain gangliosides provides an unanticipated opportunity to understand the roles of gangliosides in regulating excitatory neurotransmission at the cellular, molecular and whole organism levels.

HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) – Despite great advances in the control of HIV/AIDS, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is still a serious side effect. The molecular basis for HAND is not well understood, but may involve the persistence of the HIV viral protein Tat and its ability to bind to the NMDA-type of glutamate neurotransmitter receptors. Dr. Schnaar's research aims to probe the molecular basis for this interaction in an effort to provide new avenues for therapies.


Lab Website: Ronald Schnaar Lab

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Schnaar RL, Gerardy-Schahn R, Hildebrandt H. "Sialic acids in the brain: gangliosides and polysialic Acid in nervous system development, stability, disease, and regeneration." Physiol Rev. 2014 Apr;94(2):461-518. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00033.2013.

Kiwamoto T, Brummet ME, Wu F, Motari MG, Smith DF, Schnaar RL, Zhu Z, Bochner BS. "Mice deficient in the St3gal3 gene product α2,3 sialyltransferase (ST3Gal-III) exhibit enhanced allergic eosinophilic airway inflammation." J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Jan;133(1):240-7.e1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.05.018. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Vajn K, Viljetić B, Degmečić IV, Schnaar RL, Heffer M. "Differential distribution of major brain gangliosides in the adult mouse central nervous system." PLoS One. 2013 Sep 30;8(9):e75720. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075720. eCollection 2013.

Mountney A, Zahner MR, Sturgill ER, Riley CJ, Aston JW, Oudega M, Schramm LP, Hurtado A, Schnaar RL. "Sialidase, chondroitinase ABC, and combination therapy after spinal cord contusion injury." J Neurotrauma. 2013 Feb 1;30(3):181-90. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2353. Epub 2013 Jan 21.

Webb TJ, Li X, Giuntoli RL 2nd, Lopez PH, Heuser C, Schnaar RL, Tsuji M, Kurts C, Oelke M, Schneck JP. "Molecular identification of GD3 as a suppressor of the innate immune response in ovarian cancer." Cancer Res. 2012 Aug 1;72(15):3744-52. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-2695. Epub 2012 May 30.

Contact for Research Inquiries

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

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
  • 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

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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