Sweedler Research Group

Test Tubes with Color insideIn the Sweedler Research Group, we work on a broad array of projects that span analytical chemistry and chemical biology to neuroscience and bioengineering. We conduct research in bioanalytical chemistry and focus on the development of analytical methods for assaying complex microenvironments, including capillary electrophoresis separations, laser-based detectors, MALDI sampling techniques, and nanoliter volume NMR. 

In addition to these information-rich approaches, new methodologies based on micro/nanofluidic sampling and single-cell isolations are used. Applying these techniques, we examine a range of neurochemical pathways in a variety of organisms. Studies include the distribution, metabolism, and dynamic release of neuropeptides and classical transmitters in a cell-specific manner.  We are especially interested in the roles that such neuromodulatory compounds play in behavior, learning, and memory. 

The development of novel toolsets enables new measurements that drive scientific advances. Just as important is the use of well-chosen animal models that cross the scale of simple to complex. Combining these two areas, we are advancing our understanding of new neurochemical pathways and brain function. You will find web pages on the techniques, the neurochemical pathways, and the models that we study.

Our Principal Investigator is Johnathon V. Sweedler.

Scroll down and check the tabs below or our website here to learn more.

Tech Development

Venn Diagram of Chemical, Structural, and TemporalOur group works on a range of projects to improve analytical measurement technology, in most cases, pushing them to higher performance with smaller samples. The need to sample small volumes is obvious when working with single cells and subcellular domains.  Thus, significant efforts use techniques with favorable scaling laws for low-volume samples.  Capillary separations are well suited to working with small volume samples, as is mass spectrometry.  Other approaches investigated include nanoliter volume NMR, microfluidics and microscopy.  One goal is to develop approaches that achieve greater chemical information while obtaining either temporal or spatial information.

Measurements in neuroscience require greater sensitivity and improved information content, with a higher-throughput and massively-parallel character, areas we address in our metabolomic and peptidomics efforts. While we use other approaches in the group, our technology development efforts are highlighted and described in the following major areas:


Neurotransmitters Flow ChartCell to cell communication in the brain uses a diverse set of molecules, ranging from gaseous molecules such as nitric oxide (NO), classical transmitters such as glutamate, surprising molecules such as d-serine and a range of peptides.  The Sweedler group studies these to understand how networks of neurons and associated supporting cells such as glia can work together to yield emergent properties that give rise to behaviors and memory.  Specific questions address what molecules are present in specific cells and networks, how they change based on behavior or exposure to drugs, as well as their function. 

Several of the projects we are most involved with are:

Neuronal Models

Animals that the sweedler lab usesWhat animal models do we use to study neuronal function? From "simpler" to "complex":


  • Mollusks with simple central nervous systems; ~10,000 larger neurons and a million synaptic connections
  • Insects with social behaviors
  • Mammals that are relevant to human disease and function