Elias Spiliotis, PhD

Director of Cell Imaging Center; Director of Biology Graduate Program; Assistant Professor

Elias Spiliotis, Ph.D.

Office: PISB 423
Phone: 215.571.3552
Lab: PISB 401 F2
Lab Phone: 215.895.1932
Website(s): The Spiliotis Lab

Specialization: Epithelial and neuronal cell biology; Regulation of cytoskeletal organization and functions; Microtubule-based membrane traffic; The septin GTPases in cancer (tumor invasion and metastasis) and neurodegeneration.


  • BS, Boston College
  • PhD, The Johns Hopkins University
  • Post-Doc, Stanford University

Research Interests

Our research group is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the morphogenesis of epithelial and neuronal tissues. Currently, we focus on the spatial regulation of the cytoskeleton and its functions by a novel family of GTP-binding proteins termed septins. Owing to the abnormal expression of septins in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, our research aims to provide new insights into the cell biology of disease.


Elias Spiliotis received his Bachelor of Science from Boston College and Doctor Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University. Subsequently, he moved to Stanford University, where he held a post-doctoral fellowship from The Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research. In the lab of cell biologist James Nelson, he focused on the regulation of the cytoskeleton and its functions by a novel family of GTP-binding proteins termed septins. Elias joined the Biology Department in the fall of 2008. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Association for Cancer Research; a recipient of the 2009 Drexel Career Development Award and was featured as the “Scientist to Watch” in the December 2010 issue of The Scientist magazine. Elias Spiliotis holds a joint appointment in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy (Drexel University College of Medicine), and serves as the Director of the Biology Cell Imaging Center. In his spare time, Elias has djed radio shows, written music reviews, and performed and recorded with an independent post-punk band.


  • Hu J, Bai X, Bowen JR, Dolat L, Korobova F, Yu W, Baas PW, Svitkina T, Gallo G and Spiliotis ET (2012) Septin-driven coordination of actin and microtubule remodeling regulates the collateral branching of axons. Current Biology 22(12): 1109-1115.
  • Spiliotis ET and Gladfelter AS. (2012) Spatial guidance of cell asymmetry: septin GTPases show the way. Traffic 13(2): 195-203.
  • Bowen JR, Hwang D, Bai X, Roy W and Spiliotis ET (2011) Septin GTPases spatially guide microtubule organization and plus end dynamics in polarizing epithelia. J Cell Biol 194 (2): 187-197.
  • Hu Q, Milenkovic L, Jin H, Scott MP, Nachury MV, Spiliotis ET* and Nelson WJ (2010). A septin diffusion barrier at the base of the primary cilium maintains ciliary membrane protein distribution. Science 329 (5990): 436-9.
    *co-corresponding author with WJN
  • Spiliotis, ET (2010). Regulation of microtubule organization and functions by septin GTPases. Cytoskeleton 67(6): 339-45.
  • Hu Q, Nelson WJ and Spiliotis ET (2008) Forchlorfenuron alters mammalian septin organization and dynamics. J Biol Chem 283 (43): 29563-71.
  • Spiliotis ET, Hunt SJ, Hu Q, Kinoshita M and Nelson WJ (2008). Epithelial polarity requires septin coupling of vesicle transport to polyglutamylated microtubules. J Cell Biol 180, 295-303.
  • Spiliotis ET and Nelson WJ (2006). Here come the septins: novel polymers that coordinate intracellular functions and organization. J Cell Sci 119, 4-10.
  • Spiliotis ET, Kinoshita M and Nelson WJ (2005). A mitotic septin scaffold required for mammalian chromosome congression and segregation. Science 307, 1781-5.