Robert Edwards attended Yale College and Johns Hopkins Medical School. After clinical training in neurology, he studied the role of nerve growth factor in development as a postdoctoral fellow in William Rutter’s laboratory at UCSF. He then joined the faculty at UCLA in the Departments of Neurology and Biological Chemistry, returning to UCSF in 1995 where he is now the Cahill Professor of Neurology and Physiology.
The Edwards lab has identified three entirely distinct families of proteins that transport classical neurotransmitters into synaptic vesicles. In the course of this work, they identified the System N and A transporters that participate in the glutamine-glutamate cycle which replenishes synaptically released glutamate. They also contributed to identification of the first opiate receptor and the SV2 family of putative transporters. Originally focused on identification and biological role of vesicular neurotransmitter transporters, the scope of their work has now expanded to include the biophysical mechanisms of neurotransmitter transport, factors that regulate expression of the proton electrochemical driving force, and the recycling of synaptic vesicles studied by live imaging of cultured neurons as well as electrophysiology. Recent work has also extended to the packaging of proteins as well as classical transmitters for regulated release. The analysis extends from basic molecular mechanism to synaptic physiology and behavior, using genetically manipulated mice.
The goal of our work is to understand how the properties of neurotransmitter release influence synaptic transmission, behavior, development and neuropsychiatric disease.