I have a long-standing research interest in developmental neurobiology and its implications for neurological diseases. I am fascinated by the precise assembly of complex nervous system components that are able to sense the environment and affect behavior. To pursue this question, I did my PhD in neuroscience in Dr. Yuh-Nung Jan's lab at University of California, San Francisco, where I discovered multiple genes that regulate dendrite development in Drosophila sensory neurons. As a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. David Ginty's lab at Harvard Medical School, I am studying the molecular mechanisms of mammalian touch circuit assembly. My work will also reveal potential targets for restoring normal touch sensation after injury as well as for patients with sensory processing disorders such as autism.
A single low-threshold mechanosensory neuron
(Aδ-LTMR) in the skin
Meltzer, S., Comeau, K., Chirila, A., Osei-Asante, E., DeLisle, M., Zhang, Q., Kalish, B.T., Tasnim, A., Huey, E., Fuller, L.C., Flaherty, E.K., Maniatis, T., Garrett, A.M., Weiner, J.A., and Ginty, D.D. (2023). γ-Protocadherins control synapse formation and peripheral branching of touch sensory neurons. Neuron (in press).
Meltzer, S., Boulanger, K. C., Osei-Asante, E., Handler, A., Zhang, Q., Sano, C., Itohara, S., and Ginty, D. D. (2022). A role for axon–glial interactions and Netrin-G1 signaling in the formation of low-threshold mechanoreceptor end organs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119(43), e2210421119.
Meltzer, S., Santiago, C., Sharma, N., and Ginty D.D (2021). The Cellular and Molecular Basis of Somatosensory Neuron Development. Neuron. 109, 3736–3757.
Kuehn, E.D.*, Meltzer, S.*, Abraira V.E., Ho C., and Ginty D.D. (2019). Tiling and Somatotopic Alignment of Mammalian Low-Threshold Mechanoreceptors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 116, 9168–9177. (*co-first authors).
Meltzer, S., Bagley, J.A., Perez, G.L., O’Brien, C.E., DeVault, L., Guo, Y., Jan, L.Y., and Jan, Y.N. (2017). Phospholipid Homeostasis Regulates Dendrite Morphogenesis in Drosophila Sensory Neurons. Cell Reports 21, 859–866.
• Highlighted in Trends in Neuroscience: Miller III, D.M. and Sundararajan, L. Neuronal Fat and Dendrite Morphogenesis: The Goldilocks Effect (2018).
Jin, P., Bulkley, D., Guo, Y., Zhang, W., Guo, Z., Huynh, W., Wu, S., Meltzer, S., Cheng, T., Jan, L.Y., Jan, Y.N., Cheng, Y. (2017). Electron cryo-microscopy structure of the mechanotransduction channel NOMPC. Nature 547, 118–122.
Meltzer, S.*, and Chen, C.* (2016). Balancing Dendrite Morphogenesis and Neuronal Migration during Cortical Development. J. Neurosci. 36, 10726–10728. (*co-first authors)
Guo, Y.*, Wang, Y.*, Zhang, W.*, Meltzer, S.*, Zanini, D.*, Yu, Y., Li, J., Cheng, T., Guo, Z., Wang, Q., Jacobs, J.S., Sharma, Y., Eberl, D.F., Göpfert, M.C., Jan, L.Y., Jan, Y.N., Wang, Z. (2016). Transmembrane channel-like (tmc) gene regulates Drosophila larval locomotion. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113, 7243–7248. (*co-first authors)
Ori-McKenney, K.M., McKenney, R.J., Huang, H.H., Li, T., Meltzer, S., Jan, L.Y., Vale, R.D., Wiita, A.P., and Jan, Y.N. (2016). Phosphorylation of β-Tubulin by the Down Syndrome Kinase, Minibrain/DYRK1a, Regulates Microtubule Dynamics and Dendrite Morphogenesis. Neuron 90, 1–14.
Meltzer, S., Yadav, S., Lee, J., Soba, P., Younger, S.H., Jin, P., Zhang, W., Parrish, J., Jan, L.Y., and Jan, Y.N. (2016). Epidermis-Derived Semaphorin Promotes Dendrite Self-Avoidance by Regulating Dendrite-Substrate Adhesion in Drosophila Sensory Neurons. Neuron 89, 741–755.
• Editor’s Choice in Science Signaling: Ferrarelli L.K. Epidermal signals confine dendrites (2016).
Song, Y., Sretavan, D., Salegio, E.A., Berg, J., Huang, X., Cheng, T., Xiong, X., Meltzer, S., Han, C., Nguyen, T.-T., Bresnahan JC, Beattie, M.S., Jan, L.Y., Jan, Y.N. (2015). Regulation of axon regeneration by the RNA repair and splicing pathway. Nat. Neurosci. 18, 817–825.
Gorczyca, D.A., Younger, S., Meltzer, S., Kim, S.E., Cheng, L., Song, W., Lee, H.Y., Jan, L.Y., and Jan, Y.N. (2014). Identification of Ppk26, a DEG/ENaC Channel Functioning with Ppk1 in a Mutually Dependent Manner to Guide Locomotion Behavior in Drosophila. Cell Reports 9, 1446–1458.
Yan, Z., Zhang, W., He, Y., Gorczyca, D., Xiang, Y., Cheng, L.E., Meltzer, S., Jan, L.Y., and Jan, Y.N. (2013). Drosophila NOMPC is a mechanotransduction channel subunit for gentle-touch sensation. Nature 493, 221–225.
Wu, C.-S., Zhu, J., Wager-Miller, J., Wang, S., O'Leary, D., Monory, K., Lutz, B., Mackie, K., and Lu, H.-C. (2010). Requirement of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors in cortical pyramidal neurons for appropriate development of corticothalamic and thalamocortical projections. Eur. J. Neurosci. 32, 693–706. (cover)
Education and Training
HHMI Hanna Gray Fellow, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School & the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of California, San Francisco
Ph.D. in Neuroscience.
Peking University, China
B.S., Life Sciences, Magna Cum Laude.
B. Phil., Philosophy (secondary major)
Awards and Honors
Grants and Fellowships
Jan 2019 - Present HHMI Hanna Gray Fellowship: Postdoctoral Training Phase: $90,000/year for four years. Faculty Phase: $270,000/year for four years.
Jul 2018 - Jan 2019 NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship
Sep 2016 - Sep 2017 Dissertation Fellowship, American Association of University Women
Sep 2013 - Sep 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
Sep 2012 - Sep 2013 NIH NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant (T32)
2008-2009 Chun-Tsung Fellowship, Peking University
Honors and Awards
2022 Grass Trustees Recognition Award, The Grass Foundation
2022 Future of Science Fund scholarship, Keystone Symposia
2021 Women in Science Travel Fund, WIST Fund
2020 NINDS Scholarship, Keystone Symposia on "Somatosensation: From Detection to Perception"
2019 Harvard Brain Science Initiative Young Scientist Travel Award
2016 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad
2016 Chancellor’s Diversity Award for the Advancement of Women, UCSF
2016 1st Place, UCSF Chalk Art Contest
2015 ASGD Conference Travel Award, UCSF
2014 Earle C. Anthony Travel Award, UCSF
2014 Graduate Student Research Award, UCSF
2013 Poster Award, UCSF Neuroscience Retreat
2010 Graduated magna cum laude, Peking University
2008, 2009 National Scholarship, Chinese Ministry of Education (most competitive scholarship in China)
2009 Chun-Tsung Scholar, Peking University
2007, 2008, 2009 Triple-A student, Peking University
07-06-2021: After working with me for the past 2+ years, Katelyn Comeau left the lab to pursue her PhD in Molecules, Cells and Organisms at Harvard University. Congratulations Katelyn and I'm very proud of you!!
06-07-2021: Emmanuella Asante joined the lab as a research assistant and she will help with me with my postdoc work. Welcome, Emmanuella!
06-05-2020: I completed the Cold Spring Harbor Course on Ion Channels in Synaptic and Neural Circuit Physiology!
09-03-2019: Lai Wei, an undergraduate student from Peking University, finished his summer research with me. It was great working with him and many thanks to Yuanpei College for supporting him!
06-03-2019: Katelyn Comeau came back to the lab as a research technician and will work with me on sensory neuron development!
03-20-2019: My daughter March Meltzer was born!
09-12-2018: I received the Hanna Gray Fellowship from HHMI!! This fellowship will support both of my postdoctoral training in the Ginty lab and the establishment of my future independent laboratory!
Media: HHMI Awards Hanna Gray Fellowships to 15 Early Career Scientists
08-03-2018: Katelyn Comeau, an undergraduate student from Mount St. Mary's University finished her outstanding summer lab research with me. You'll be missed!
Media: Biochemistry Student Conducted Research at Harvard University
07-01-2018: I received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship!
02-08-2018: Annie Chen, a freshman student from Simmons College joined the Ginty lab to work with me on my projects!
10-01-2017: I started my postdoc in Dr. David Ginty's lab at Harvard Medical School!
08-16-2017: I successfully defended my PhD!
Department of Neurobiology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Harvard Medical School
210 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA 02115