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David W. Sanders was born and raised in Kansas City. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Neurobiology (2009). He then attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he received his PhD in Neuroscience (2016). Before joining UT Southwestern as a tenure-track faculty member (2023), he completed postdoctoral training at Princeton University. Cumulatively, his research informs how physiological liquids and pathological solids form according to the molecular interactions of their components. As a graduate student with Marc Diamond, he discovered that different tau aggregate structures self-replicate to cause distinct neurodegenerative diseases. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Cliff Brangwynne lab, he uncovered a network-based code for biomolecular condensate assembly and composition in living cells. 

His laboratory’s current research seeks to understand how RNA/protein assemblies control cellular states, and how related pathways are hijacked by diseases of aging. As a member of the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, he is particularly interested in uncovering the role of RNA (dys)homeostasis in the pathogenesis of neuromuscular diseases. Toward this goal, the Sanders Lab uses diverse experimental approaches from in vitro reconstitution to mammalian cell culture, with an emphasis on quantitative microscopy and genomics. They are passionate advocates for curiosity-based scientific inquiry, in which hypotheses, independent of past successes (or failures), are rigorously tested using question-dependent methodologies. They embrace risk and seek fellow lab members who share their insatiable curiosity for discovery. To learn more, see the link to their lab website on the right.


Graduate School
(2024), Neuroscience

Research Interest

  • Momentum


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Condensate interfaces can accelerate protein aggregation.
Choi CH, Lee DSW, Sanders DW, Brangwynne CP, Biophys J 2023 Oct
Poly(GR) interacts with key stress granule factors promoting its assembly into cytoplasmic inclusions.
Park J, Wu Y, Shao W, Gendron TF, van der Spek SJF, Sultanakhmetov G, Basu A, Castellanos Otero P, Jones CJ, Jansen-West K, Daughrity LM, Phanse S, Del Rosso G, Tong J, Castanedes-Casey M, Jiang L, Libera J, Oskarsson B, Dickson DW, Sanders DW, Brangwynne CP, Emili A, Wolozin B, Petrucelli L, Zhang YJ, Cell Rep 2023 Aug 42 8 112822
DnaJC7 specifically regulates tau seeding.
Perez VA, Sanders DW, Mendoza-Oliva A, Stopschinski BE, Mullapudi V, White CL, Joachimiak LA, Diamond MI, bioRxiv 2023 Mar
The AAA+ chaperone VCP disaggregates Tau fibrils and generates aggregate seeds in a cellular system.
Saha I, Yuste-Checa P, Da Silva Padilha M, Guo Q, Körner R, Holthusen H, Trinkaus VA, Dudanova I, Fernández-Busnadiego R, Baumeister W, Sanders DW, Gautam S, Diamond MI, Hartl FU, Hipp MS, Nat Commun 2023 Feb 14 1 560
Size distributions of intracellular condensates reflect competition between coalescence and nucleation.
Lee DSW, Choi CH, Sanders DW, Beckers L, Riback JA, Brangwynne CP, Wingreen NS, Nat Phys 2023 19 4 586-596
Nucleation landscape of biomolecular condensates.
Shimobayashi SF, Ronceray P, Sanders DW, Haataja MP, Brangwynne CP, Nature 2021 Nov 599 7885 503-506
SARS-CoV-2 requires cholesterol for viral entry and pathological syncytia formation.
Sanders DW, Jumper CC, Ackerman PJ, Bracha D, Donlic A, Kim H, Kenney D, Castello-Serrano I, Suzuki S, Tamura T, Tavares AH, Saeed M, Holehouse AS, Ploss A, Levental I, Douam F, Padera RF, Levy BD, Brangwynne CP, Elife 2021 Apr 10
Composition-dependent thermodynamics of intracellular phase separation.
Riback JA, Zhu L, Ferrolino MC, Tolbert M, Mitrea DM, Sanders DW, Wei MT, Kriwacki RW, Brangwynne CP, Nature 2020 May 581 7807 209-214