Shawn Michael Ferguson, PhD

Assistant Professor of Cell Biology

Departments & Organizations

Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC)

Cell Biology: Ferguson Lab

Office of Student Research

Yale Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS): Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology: Membrane Biology and Motion; Neurobiology | Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics and Development: Developmental Biology; Genetics and Genomics; Human Disease; Membrane Proteins; Membrane Traffic and Biogenesis; Receptors and Signal Transduction


The goal of research in my lab is to understand how the status of lysosomes is sensed and how lysosomal function is regulated to meet cellular demands. The basic building blocks (amino acids, sugars, lipids and nucleotides) released by degradation of lysosomal substrates represent important sources of energy during starvation and of material for new macromolecule synthesis to support cell growth and/or remodeling. Conversely, lysosomes are critical for the turnover and clearance from cells of damaged organelles and protein aggregates. The importance of maintaining optimal lysosomal function is illustrated by contributions of lysosome dysfunction to human neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and lysosomal storage disorders such as Batten’s disease. Furthermore, the role played by lysosomes in sensing cellular energy and nutrient levels and transducing this information into signals controlling growth represents a potential therapeutic target in cancer. With this growing appreciation of the roles played by lysosomes in health and disease, we ultimately seek to address the following fundamental questions:

(A) How do cells sense and regulate the status of their lysosomes?

(B) How is lysosomal function altered in disease states?

(C) Can lysosomal function be modulated for therapeutic purposes?

To address these questions we combine live cell imaging to monitor the dynamic recruitment of proteins to lysosomes with proteomic approaches to define the molecular basis for this recruitment and high-throughput siRNA screening to identify new mechanisms controlling lysosomal homeostasis. Insights obtained through these strategies will contribute to answering fundamental cell biological questions concerning organelle homeostasis and are expected to be of direct relevance to human health.

Education & Training

PhD Vanderbilt University (2004)
MS University of Ottawa (1999)
BS University of Ottawa (1997)

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Contact Info

Shawn Michael Ferguson, PhD
Office Location
Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine
295 Congress Avenue, Ste Suite 254E

New Haven, CT 06510
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Mailing Address
Department of Cell BiologyPO Box 208002
333 Cedar Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8002

Ferguson Lab