19 October 1952
Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz is the Chief of the Section on Organelle Biology in the Cell Biology and Metabolism Program, in the Division of Intramural Research in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. Lippincott-Schwartz received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. Following Johns Hopkins, Lippincott-Schwartz completed her post-doctoral training with Dr. Richard Klausner at the NICHD, NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.
The current research of Lippincott-Schwartz has helped to debunk the traditional ‘static’ view of molecules in cells including the methods of secretory membrane trafficking, compartmentalization, and trafficking of eukaryotic cells. Her research involves multiple live cell imaging techniques in order to study the dynamic interactions of molecules in cells and has led to a more lively view on the inner-workings of the cells. Such live cell imaging techniques include green fluorescent protein fusion alongside photobleaching and photoactivation techniques which allow investigation of subcellular localization, mobility, transport routes, and turnover of important cellular proteins related to membrane trafficking and compartmentalization. Lippincott-Schwartz's lab also tests mechanistic hypotheses related to protein and organelle functions and dynamics by utilizing quantitative measurements through kinetic modeling and simulation experiments. Along with Dr. Craig Blackstone, Lippincott-Schwartz utilized advanced imaging techniques to reveal a more accurate picture of how the peripheral endoplasmic reticulum is structured. Their findings may yield new insights for genetic diseases affecting proteins that help shape the endoplasmic reticulum. Additionally, Lippincott-Schwartz's laboratory demonstrated that Golgi enzymes constitutively recycle back to the endoplasmic reticulum and that such recycling plays a central role in the maintenance, biogenesis, and inheritance of the Golgi apparatus in mammalian cells.
Within Lippincott-Schwartz lab, current projects include several cell biological areas. For example, protein transport and cytoskeleton interaction, organelle assembly and disassembly, and cell polarity generation. There are also projects analyzing the dynamics of proteins that have been fluorescently labeled. These proteins are labeled using several live cell imaging techniques such as FRAP, FCS, and photoactivation.
Lippincott-Schwartz has dedicated her most recent lab research to photoactivation localization microscopy (PALM), which allows the viewing of molecular distributions of high densities at the nano-scale.
Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz was born on October 19, 1952 in Manhattan, Kansas. Her father was a professor of physical chemistry at the University of Maryland and a periodic table could be found hanging in her family’s household kitchen. Lippincott-Schwartz’s exposure to her father’s work is what sparked her love of science. Early in Lippincott-Schwartz’s life her family moved to College Park, Maryland. However, it was not long into her teenage years that the family moved once again to a farm in Northern Virginia. The family’s farm had several horses and various other animals. This is where Lippincott-Schwartz found her love of biology.
Lippincott-Schwartz attended Swarthmore College, originally planning to major in biology but was eventually swayed by her university’s concentration on liberal arts and education. Instead, she majored in psychology and philosophy. Lippincott-Schwartz graduated with honors from Swarthmore College in 1974.
Following her graduation from Swarthmore College, Lippincott-Schwartz was not ready for the commitment of graduate school. Instead, she wanted to explore something outside of education and western society. Therefore, Lippincott-Schwartz traveled to Tigoi, Kenya to teach physics, chemistry, and biology at an all girl’s high school for two years. While in Kenya, Lippincott-Schwartz noticed the lack of understanding that the people had about agriculture and treatments of endemic diseases such as malaria. Thus, she was determined to once again focus on biology.
In 1976, Lippincott-Schwartz and future husband, Jonathan Schwartz, returned to the United States and moved to Palo Alto, California. Lippincott-Schwartz began teaching chemistry and physics at a private boys’ high school. However, Lippincott-Schwartz was not satisfied and realized that instead of teaching science she wanted to do it. Lippincott-Schwartz decided to enter the master’s program in biology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California while her husband completed his law degree also at Stanford University. During her graduate studies, Lippincott-Schwartz worked alongside Phil Hanawalt researching the biochemistry of DNA repair. However, she was not satisfied with this research due to the intricacies and minute understanding of the subject matter.
In 1979, following the completion of her master’s program in California, Lippincott-Schwartz entered into Johns Hopkins University’s doctoral program in biochemistry in Baltimore, Maryland. Lippincott-Schwartz grew fond of microscopy techniques and thus began working in Douglas Fambrough’s lab in the Carnegie Institution of Embryology. During her time at Carnegie, Lippincott-Schwartz had many advanced scientist mentors. The collaborative lab consisted of a large majority of postdoctoral researchers and principal investigators. She also learned detailed techniques while working with light microscopy, electron microscopy, and most importantly, monoclonal antibodies.
Green fluorescent protein
Lippincott-Schwartz graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1986. Following her graduation, she began working at NIH with Richard Klausner studying the secretory pathway.
Following her work with Klausner, Lippincott-Schwartz became a staff fellow at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at NIH in 1990. During this time, Lippincott-Schwartz began her work with green fluorescent protein (GFP). She had previously read about GFP, a tracking molecule, in a scholarly research article and knew right away that she could utilize this molecule to further her work.
Her goal was to use the inert GFP to tag certain pathways in order to gain an understanding of different cellular trafficking pathways and learning about disassembly and reassembly models. Using GFP, Lippincott-Schwartz and her team analyzed membrane trafficking intermediates and their role for transport of proteins. They found that the intermediates existed in the form of μm-sized, globular-tubular elements that moved the proteins along microtubules.
However, throughout her work with GFP, Lippincott-Schwartz struggled with the unsophisticated imaging techniques available at the time. Despite the progress that she had made with the help of specific molecule labeling, documenting cellular activity was challenging and displaying her bits of recorded information to her peers required extensive set-up of large monitors and videotapes.
Cellular trafficking and patterns
Lippincott-Schwartz became infatuated with understanding the precise way in which molecules move within cells. Lippincott-Schwartz believed that one way to gain this understanding would be to disrupt the cell’s normal pathways in order to see how the cell would reset itself back to its normal equilibrium state. Lippincott-Schwartz and her lab began doing this by using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP). Through this method, Lippincott-Schwartz was able to see the rate of which different portions of the cell and its molecules returned to their normal state. Before her research, it was thought that the molecules within certain portions of the cells and within organelles such as the ER, Golgi, and plasma membrane were static. However, the FRAP technique proved that molecules within cells move quite rapidly and are able to diffuse freely.
In 2002, one of Lippincott-Schwartz postdoctoral fellows, George Patterson, furthered the GFP methods. Patterson developed photoactivatable GFP that allowed for following molecules throughout a cell selectively instead of relying on photobleaching. Using this newly developed technique, Patterson and Lippincott-Schwartz were able to further research the movement of molecules within cells. For example, a single lysosome could now be imaged to reveal the movement of its proteins alone.
Photoactivation localization microscopy
Patterson’s photoactivatable GFP also led to an important development in research. Eric Betzig of Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia approached Lippincott-Schwartz in 2005 to pursue a partnership that could change cell biology as they knew it. Betzig realized that using Patterson’s development it was now possible to witness an individual molecule within a densely populated biological system such as a cell on the nanometric scale. He referred to this idea as “superresolution imaging” and believed that using this technique to pinpoint single molecules at a time could lead to determining the molecule’s exact location.
Lippincott-Schwartz allowed Betzig to work in her lab along with Harald Hess in order to develop a technique called photoactivation localization microscopy (PALM). Using PALM, the team was able to create images of organelles at the molecular level.
This development was acknowledged in 2014 by the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Eric Betzig along with William E. Moerner of Stanford University, and Stefan W. Hell of Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry “for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.”
Using PALM, Lippincott-Schwartz has pursued her research even further. She has used PALM to track single molecules within living cells in high protein populations. Lippincott-Schwartz and Vladislav Verkhusha of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have also developed a dual-label PALM that allows for imaging of two different molecular populations as they interact at the same time within a cell.
Lippincott-Schwartz Lab current projects
Lippincott-Schwartz has continued to further her research as a Distinguished investigator within her own laboratory at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her lab group uses techniques in various areas including cell biology, biochemistry, and biophysics in order to research hypotheses related to membrane organelles, cytoskeletons, and cellular organization and function. Lippincott-Schwartz's lab continues to utilize fluorescence-based imaging techniques including PALM, fluorescence photobleaching, photoactivation, and more. The lab is also working toward understanding more complex cellular behaviors and how they are carried out. Such behaviors include cell crawling, polarization, furrowing, cytokinesis, cell fate determination, viral budding and intercellular transfer.
Aside from running her lab, Lippincott-Schwartz is the Editor for Current Protocols in Cell Biology and The Journal of Cell Science and is on the Editorial Boards of Cell, Molecular Biology of the Cell and Traffic. Lippincott-Schwartz is also a member of the Council for the American Society of Cell Biology and is on the Executive Board of the Biophysical Society. In 2008, Lippincott-Schwartz was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
For more information on her current research, visit the Lippincott-Schwartz lab section of the Division of Intramural Research 2013 annual report.
- President of the American Society of Cell Biology (2014)
- Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society, UK (2014)
- Honorary Friedrich-Merz Professorship at Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany (2013)
- Non-Resident Fellow, Salk Institute (2010 to present)
- Keith Porter Award, American Society of Cell Biology (2011)
- Elected Fellow, Biophysical Society (2010) 
- Pearse Prize, Royal Microscopy Society (2010)
- Elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2009
- Elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Biochemistry Section, 2008
- Elected AAAS Fellow, 2008, for “outstanding contributions to the field of fluorescent protein imaging, including the creation of photoactivable GFP and its use in new super-resolution imaging techniques”
- Elected Distinguished NIH Investigator, 2008
- National Institutes of Health Award of Merit, “For fundamental contributions to the understanding of how intracellular organelles are assembled and how proteins move within cells” (2003)
- The Feulgen Prize, Society of Histochemistry (2001)
- Keith Porter Fellow, awarded by K. R. Porter Foundation for Excellence in Cell Biology (1998) 
- The Wellcome Visiting Professorship in the Basic Medical Sciences (1998)
- NIH Predoctoral Fellowship Award (1979-1981)
- Carnegie Institute of Washington Fellowship (1981-1985)
- Pharmacology Research Associate of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (1986-1988)
- National Research Service Award (1988-1990)
- Davis, Tinsley H. "Profile of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2009
- National Institute of Health , Jennifer A. Lippincott-Schwartz, Ph.D., "Intramural Research Program" 2011
- "Re-envisioning the endoplasmic reticulum". National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
- Sengupta, Prabuddha; Satpute-Krishnan, Prasanna; Seo, Arnold Y.; Burnette, Dylan T.; Patterson, George H.; Lippincott-Schwartz, Jennifer (2015-12-08). "ER trapping reveals Golgi enzymes continually revisit the ER through a recycling pathway that controls Golgi organization". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (49): E6752–E6761. doi:10.1073/pnas.1520957112. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC . PMID 26598700.
- The Marine Biological Laboratory, the Faculty: Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz", 2011
- Bonetta, Laura, Profile of Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Ph.D.", 2006’’BioTechniques’’
- Presley, J., et al., ER-to-Golgi transport visualized in living cells", 1997’’Nature’’
- Cole NB, et al. "Diffusional Mobility of Golgi Proteins in Membranes of Living Cells", Science, 1996
- Patterson G, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Photoactivatable GFP for Selective Photolabeling of Proteins and Cells", Science, 2002
- Betzig E, et al., "Imaging Intracellular Fluorescent Proteins at Nanometer Resolution", Science, 2006
- The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2014-10-08). "Scientific Background on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014: Super-Resolved Fluorescence Microscopy" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "NIH Grantee Honored With 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Early prototype microscope built at NIH". National Institute of Health: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- Subach FV, et al., "Photoactivatable mCherry for high-resolution two-color fluorescence microscopy", Nature Methods, 2009
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, "Lippincott-Schwartz: Section on Organelle Biology", 2014
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development, "Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz", 2014
- "Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz". ASCB - An International Forum for Cell Biology. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Honorary Fellowship: List of Honorary Fellows". Royal Microscopical Society. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Membrane Kinesis - Shaping and Transport of Cell Membranes". Membrane Transport SFB 807. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Scientists & Research - Scientists - Non-Resident Fellows". Salk Institute. 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Keith R. Porter Lecture Award". ASCB - An International Forum for Cell Biology. Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- "Society Fellows". Biophysical Society. Retrieved 2015-04-21.
- "Jennifer Lippincott-Schwarz CV" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-04-20.
- Lab Website
- Interplay between Membrane Organelles, Cytoskeleton and Metabolism in Cell Organization and Function, NICHD Division of Extramural Research Annual Report 2013
- An Interview with Dr. Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz: Seeing Inside the Cell
- National Institute of Health Website
- Three iBiology seminars by Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz on YouTube: