James Rothman

Professor and Chairman of Cell Biology
Professor of Chemistry
Executive Director, Yale Center for High Throughput Cell Biology
Member of Yale faculty since 2008

Research Interests


Elucidating the underlying mechanisms of vesicular transport within cells and the secretion of proteins. Projects include (1) the biochemical and biophysical mechanisms of vesicle budding and fusion; (2) cellular regulation of vesicle fusion in exocytosis and synaptic transmission; (3) structural and functional organization of the Golgi apparatus from a cellular systems view. We take an interdisciplinary approach which includes cell-free biochemistry, single-molecule biophysics, high-resolution optical imaging of single events/single molecules in the cell and in cell-free formats. The overall goal is to understand transport pathways from structural mechanism to cellular physiology. The latter is facilitated by high throughput functional genomics at the cellular level (see Yale Center for High Throughput Cell Biology). We have a strong interest in new lab members who bring backgrounds in chemistry, physics, and engineering.



B.A. Yale University, 1971
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1976
Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976-78


Scholar of the House in Yale College, 1970 71
Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, 1979 82
Dreyfus Fndn. Teacher Scholar, 1981 86
The Eli Lilly Award for Fundamental Res. in Biol. Chem., 1986
The Passano Young Scientist Award, 1986
The Alexander Von Humboldt Award, 1989
The Heinrich Wieland Prize, 1990
Member, Natl. Acad. of Sciences, 1993
The Rosenstiel Award in Biomedical Sciences, 1994
Fellow, Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences, 1994
The V.D. Mattia Award, 1994
The Fritz Lipmann Award, 1995
Member, Institute of Med., Natl. Acad. of Sciences, 1995
Dr. h.c., Univ. of Regensburg, 1995
Foreign Assoc., European Molec. Biol. Org’n., 1995
Mayor’s Award For Excellence in Sci. & Tech., 1995
Gairdner Fndn. Internat’l. Award, 1996
King Faisal Internat’l. Prize in Science, 1996
The Harden Medal, 1997
The Lounsbery Award, Natl. Acad. of Sciences, 1997
The Feodor Lynen Award, 1997
Dr. h.c., Univ. of Geneva, 1997
The Heineken Prize, 2000
The Otto-Warburg Medal, 2001
The Lasker Award – Basic Medical Research, 2002
The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, 2002

Recent Publications

J.E. Rothman. Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. The machinery and principles of vesicle transport in the cell. Nature Med. 2002, 8, 1059-1062.

.J. Shen, D.C. Tareste, F. Paumet, J.E. Rothman, & T.J. Melia. Selective Activation of Cognate SNAREpins by Sec1/Munc18 Proteins. Cell 2007, 128, 183-95.

C. G. Giraudo, A. Garcia-Diaz, W.S. Eng, Y. Chen, W.A. Hendrickson, T.J. Melia, & J.E. Rothman. Alternative Zippering as an On-Off Switch for SNARE-Mediated Fusion. Science 2009, 323, 512-516