Rick Dobrowsky started his research on the role of lipid rafts as compartments for signaling via neurotrophin receptors. As changes in neurotrophin signaling are known to contribute to nerve degeneration in diabetic neuropathy, he extended their work to diabetic animal and cell culture models, which is the current focus of the lab.
Dobrowsky was a psychology major initially interested in cognitive psychology. However, after performing some undergraduate research, he realized that this field was not that exciting to me. During this same semester, a course in physiological psychology caught his interest and helped foster his long-standing interest in neurochemistry, although this interest was put on hold while he obtained a M.S. degree in Biochemistry and Ph.D. in Pharmacology. During this period, he studied the synthesis and metabolism of bioactive alkyl-linked glycerophospholipids lipids. His experience with bioactive lipids continued during her postdoctoral studies at Duke University Medical Center but switched to a new class of signaling molecules, sphingolipids. He had a strong mentor who encouraged him to tie together his expertise in sphingolipid signaling with his interest in neurochemistry.