Steven Vogel, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Laboratory of Molecular Physiology; Section on Cellular Biophotonics


5625 Fishers Lane
Room TS-06F, MSC 9411
Rockville, MD 20852


Research Topics

In cells, proteins rarely function in isolation; typically they act together to form assemblies that mediate cellular processes. Considering how ubiquitous protein complexes are, as well as the vast array of functions they perform, it is no surprise that many human diseases arise in part from inappropriate protein interaction. A major obstacle to understanding the basis of these diseases is the paucity of robust methods for studying both normal and abnormal protein interactions under physiological conditions. Dr. Vogel's Section has been developing new forms of microscopy as well as spectroscopy through fiber optics to monitor protein interactions inside living cells and animals. These approaches are based primarily on Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) and Fluctuation Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS). He is specifically interested in the interactions of synaptic proteins that are involved in regulating memory, behavior, and addiction, and his long-term goal is to apply these photonic approaches to facilitate the identification of drugs that can target and specifically correct abnormal protein interactions inside cells. His research interests reside at the intersection of physics, bioengineering, and neurobiology. The technology that his section is developing will provide tools for delineating the detailed steps in protein complex conformational changes, provide a means of rapidly identification specific sites of protein interaction in complexes, help decipher which protein partners actually interact within large assemblies of proteins, and provide the means for confirming if a specific interaction is in fact occurring under physiological conditions, even when that interaction occurs deep within the brain of a living and behaving mouse.


Dr. Vogel received his B.S. from the City College of New York in 1978 and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from Columbia University in 1989, where he studied G-proteins in the nervous systems of Aplysia and squid with Jimmy Schwartz. During a postdoctoral fellowship with Joshua Zimmerberg at NIDDK and NICHD, he investigated the calcium dependence of exocytosis in sea urchin eggs and discovered heterogeneity for calcium responses in a population of secretory vesicles. Dr. Vogel next became an assistant and subsequently a tenured associate professor at the Medical College of Georgia (1997-2003), where he studied the mechanism of exocytosis - endocytosis coupling. He joined NIAAA as an investigator in 2003, and became a senior investigator in 2013. His laboratory develops new fiber optic and microscope-based assays using FRET, fluorescence polarization, and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to study protein-protein interactions in living cells, focusing on the structure and function of CaMKII holoenzyme. Dr. Vogel is also a faculty member for the annual University of Virginia FRET Workshop.

Selected Publications

  1. Cui G, Jun SB, Jin X, Pham MD, Vogel SS, Lovinger DM, Costa RM. Concurrent activation of striatal direct and indirect pathways during action initiation. Nature. 2013;494(7436):238-42.
  2. Kim Y, Puhl HL 3rd, Chen E, Taumoefolau GH, Nguyen TA, Kliger DS, Blank PS, Vogel SS. Venus(A206) Dimers Behave Coherently at Room Temperature. Biophys J. 2019;116(10):1918-1930.
  3. Algar WR, Hildebrandt N, Vogel SS, Medintz IL. FRET as a biomolecular research tool - understanding its potential while avoiding pitfalls. Nat Methods. 2019;16(9):815-829.
  4. Nguyen TA, Puhl HL 3rd, Pham AK, Vogel SS. Auto-FPFA: An Automated Microscope for Characterizing Genetically Encoded Biosensors. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):7374.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 29, 2023