Merz Laboratory

about the lab

We're a research group in the Departments of Biochemistry and Physiology & Biophysics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

As cell biologists, our goal is to understand how cells within human beings and other organisms are themselves organized. Our laboratory is particularly interested in subcellular degradative organelles called endosomes and lysosomes. We seek to understand how these organelles are constructed at the level of molecular and biophysical mechanisms, and how these mechanisms lead to health or, when perturbed, disease.


A warm welcome to the newest member of the lab, Tom Duan! Actually Tom has been with us for a while as an undergrad and as a post-bac researcher. He's now a Staff Research Scientist and we're thrilled to have him on board in that capacity.

Our new preprint on the complex interplay among key SNARE cofactors is now available: Schwartz ML, Nickerson DP, Lobingier BT, Angers CG, Zick M, Merz AJ. Sec17 (α-SNAP) And An SM-Tethering Complex Control The Outcome Of SNARE Zippering In Vitro And In Vivo. Submitted - bioArxiv LINK

Rotating grad student Anika Burrell carried out an amazing saturation mutageneisis study of Sec17, a core component of the SNARE-mediated membrane fusion system.

Not only that, but she made amazing and tasty cookies diagramming the system. This one depicts the post-fusion 20S particle: a vesicle (purple), 4 SNARE proteins (blue lines), 4 copies of Sec17 (orange), and a Sec18 hexamer (blue blobs).

All U.S. life scientists should read and heed this call to action:
The Obligation for Biologists to Commit to Political Advocacy, by Tom Pollard