School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

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Robert P. Skoff
(313) 577-1165

Our laboratory is supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the European Leukodystrophy Association. These grants support research of proteins in the myelin sheath that are critical for normal human function. We study a protein, proteolipid protein, in myelin that is often mutated in humans and is fatal. Using molecular and cell biological techniques, we study the mechanisms by which mutations in this protein lead to cell death and, ultimately, a person's death. We have available for study transgenic mice that mimic closely a human developmental disease. We also study sexual dimorphism of oligodendrocytes, the myelin forming cells in the central nervous system. Our laboratory is the first laboratory in the world to demonstrate morphological and functional differences in male and female oligodendrocytes. These cells are destroyed in multiple sclerosis. However, the pattern of destruction in women and men is quite different. Our analyses of these differences may shed light on the cellular basis for the differences in MS lesions between men and women. Our laboratory utilizes different molecular and cell biology techniques to study cell lineages and the regulation of myelin formation. These techniques include in situ hybridization, tissue culture, immunocytochemistry, cell transfections, myelin protein synthesis and targeting using enhanced green fluorescent protein as a marker protein, construction of point mutations in myelin protein genes, etc.

Research Educator, Full time, PhD, Gross Anatomy

Awards & Honors

Wayne State University L.M. Weiner Distinguished Faculty Award, 2000
Wayne State Univ. Distinguished Faculty Fellowship 1991-1993
New York Academy of Sciences Certificate of Appreciation 1990
Wayne State University Career Development Chair Award 1984-

Other Information


  • 1967, B.S., Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL (Biology)
  • 1967-1971, Boston University, Boston, MA (Anatomy), Ph.D.
  • 1971-1973, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.(Neurobiology), Postdoctoral Fellow, Director: Dr. Viktor Hamburger.

Professional and Faculty Appointments:

  • Instructor: (Neurology), Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine; 1973-1974
  • Assistant Professor: (Neurology), Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine;1974-1978.(Anatomy), Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine;1976-1978.
  • Associate Professor: (Anatomy), Wayne State Univ. School of Medicine;1978-1985.(Tenure granted 1980)
  • Professor: (Anatomy), Wayne State Univ. School of Medicine; 1985- present
  • Neurology (Adjunct), Wayne State Univ. Sch. of Med.; 1988- present
  • Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics (Adjunct), Wayne State Univ. Sch. of Med.; 1998-present
  1. Boucher SEM, Carlock LR, Skoff RP. Proteolipid protein gene modulates viability and phenotype of neurons. J. Neurosci. 22:1772-1783 (2002). Medline
  2. Skoff RP, Bessert DA, Cerghet M, Rout UK, Nave K-A, Carlock L, Ghandour MS, Armant DR. The myelin proteolipid protein1 gene modulates apoptosis in non-neural tissues. Cell Death and Differentiation, 11:1247-1257 (2004). Medline
  3. Cerghet M, Skoff RP, Bessert D, Zhang Z, Mullins C, Ghandour MS. Proliferation and death of oligodendrocytes and levels of myelin proteins are differentially regulated in male and female rodents. J. Neurosci. 26:1439-1447 (2006). Medline
  4. H�ttemann M, Zhang Z, Mullins C, Bessert D, Lee I, Nave KA, Appikatla S, Skoff RP. Different proteolipid protein mutants exhibit unique metabolic defects. ASN Neuro. 1. pii : e00014 (2009).
  5. Sima AA, Pierson CR, Woltjer RL, Hobson GM, Golden JA, Kupsky WJ, Schauer GM, Bird TD, Skoff RP, Garbern JY. Neuronal loss in Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease differs in various mutations of the proteolipid protein 1. Acta Neruopathol. Epub ahead of print (2009).
  6. Swamydas M, Bessert D, Skoff R. Sexual dimorphism of oligodendrocytes is mediated by differential regulation of signaling pathways. J. Neurosci. Res. Epub ahead of print (2008).