Mary Lou Caspers

Mary Lou Caspers

Professor of Chemistry

Mary Lou Caspers
Contact Info:
Campus: McNichols Campus
Building: Chemistry
Room: 205A
Phone: 313-993-1196
Mary Lou Caspers
Areas of Expertise:
Basic & Advanced Biochemistry
General Chemistry Laboratory
Aluminum / Alzheimer's Disease
Atmospheric Chemistry
Effects of Metal Ions on Brain or Body
Lead and Aluminum in the Environment
Medicinal Chemistry


  • Ph. D., Biochemistry, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 1977
  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Detroit, 1972


After being an undergraduate student at the University of Detroit, Caspers was very pleased to join the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry after completing her Ph.D. Caspers was the first woman faculty member in the Department. She has enjoyed working with undergraduate students in a small, Catholic university and has celebrated their successes over the years.

Research Interests:

Brain enzymes and neurochemistry, in general; Kinetics of the Sodium-Potassium ATPase, pectinase and polygalacturonase

Teaching Experience:  

She has taught the upper division biochemistry courses as well as chemistry for nursing students and the first freshman chemistry laboratory course.  In addition, She has taught a neurochemistry course for our graduate students and senior undergraduate students. She has had several publications related to innovative teaching methods (listed below).


Brown, R.K., Caspers, M.L., Lull, J.M., Vinogradov, S.N., Felgenhauer, K. and Nekic, M. (1977).  Carrier Ampholyte Distribution in Isoelectric Focusing.  J. Chromatogr. 131, 223-232.

Brown, R.K., Caspers, M.L. and Vinogradov, S.N. (1977).  Carrier Ampholyte Distribution.  In Electrofocusing and Isotachophoresis (Radola, B.J. and Graesslin, D. Eds.) Walter DeGrutyer and Co., Berlin-New York, pp 87-96.

Caspers, M.L., Posey, Y. and Brown, R.K. (1977).  Separator Isoelectric Focusing - An Improved Method of Protein Analysis and Purification.  Anal. Biochem. 79, 166-180.

Caspers, M.L. and Chrambach, A. (1977).  Natural pH Gradients Formed by Amino Acids: Ampholyte Distribution, Time Course, Use in Electrofocusing of Protein, Relation to pH Gradients in Isotachophoresis, Separator Effects.  Anal. Biochem. 81, 23-39.

Caspers, M.L. and Siegel, G.J. (1980).  Inhibition by Lead of Human Erythrocyte (Na+ + K+)-Adenosine Triphosphatase Associated with Binding of 210Pb to Membrane Fragments.  Biochim. et. Biophy. Acta, 600, 27-35.

Caspers, M.L. (1980).  Book Review: Electrophoresis: A Survey of Techniques and Applications.  Part A.  Techniques, J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 102, 7408.

Caspers, M.L. (1982).  Inhibition by Lead of Phenylethanolamine-N-Methyltransferase.  Biochem. Pharmacol., 31, 1985-1988.

Caspers, M.L. and Diglio, C.A. (1984).  Expression of g-Glutamyltranspeptidase in a Transformed Rat Cerebral Endothelial Cell Line.  Biochim. et Biophy. Acta, 803, 1-6.

Unni, L.K. and Caspers, M.L. (1984).  Inhibition of Bovine Plasma Amine Oxidase by Lead. Biochem. Pharmacol. 33, 2149-2151.

Unni, L.K. and Caspers, M.L. (1985).  Inhibition of Bovine Brain Monoamine Oxidase by Lead. Biochem. Pharmacol. 34, 2563-2566.

Grammas, P., Caspers, M.L., Diglio, C.A., Giacomelli, F. and Weiner, J. (1985).  Regulation of Cerebrovascular Gamma-Glutamyltranspeptidase by Adrenergic and Cholinergic Agonists.  Biochem. Pharmacol. 34, 4177-4179.

Caspers, M.L., Schwartz, R.D., Labarca, R. and Paul, S.M. (1987).  Autoradiographic Visualization and Characterization of [3H]-Ouabain Binding to the (Na+ + K+)-ATPase of Rat Brain and Pineal.  Brain Res. 409, 335-342.

Caspers, M.L. and Grammas, P. (1988).  The Effect of Fatty Acids on [3H]-Ouabain Binding to Cerebromicrovascular (Na+ + K+)-ATPase.  J. Neurochem., 50, 1215-1219.

Hart, M.A., Swisher, J.A. and Caspers, M.L. (1989).  Alterations in Plasma Amino Acids and Hepatic Enzymes in the 4-Pentenoic Acid Model of Reye's Syndrome.  Biochem. Pharmacol. 38, 1696-1698.

Caspers, M.L., Kwaiser, T.M. and Grammas, P. (1990).  Control of [3H]Ouabain Binding to Cerebromicrovascular (Na++K+)-ATPase by Metal Ions and Proteins.  Biochem. Pharmacol. 39, 1891-1895.

Grammas, P. and Caspers, M.L. (1991).  The Effect of Aluminum on Muscarinic Receptors in Isolated Cerebral Microvessels.  Res. Commun. Pathol. Pharmacol. 72, 69-79.

Grammas, P., Kwaiser, T.M. and Caspers, M.L. (1992).  Regulation of Amino Acid Uptake into Cerebral Microvessels.  Neuropharmacol. 31, 409-412.

Caspers, M.L. (1992). Book Review: Frontiers in Supramolecular Organic Chemistry and Photochemistry, J. Polym. Sci. Part A: Polym. Chem. 30, 593.

Caspers, M.L., Bussone, M., Dow, M.J., Ulanski II, L.J. and Grammas, P. (1993).  Effects of Acute Hypertension and Fatty Acids on the Cerebromicrovascular (Na++K+)-ATPase.  Brain Res. 602, 215-220.

Caspers, M.L., Kwaiser, T.M., Dow, M.J., Fu, M.J. and Grammas, P. (1993).  Control of the (Na++K+)-ATPase under Normal and Pathological Conditions.  Mol. Chem. Neuropathol. 19, 65-81.

Caspers, M.L., Dow, M.J., Fu, M.J., Jacques, P.S. and Kwaiser, T.M. (1994).  Aluminum-Induced Alterations in [3H]Ouabain Binding and ATP Hydrolysis Catalyzed by the Synaptosomal (Na+ + K+)-ATPase.  Mol. Chem. Neuropathol., 22, 43-55.

Caspers, M.L. (1994).  Biopolymers: Prospects for the Future.  In: 25th Anniversary Symposium of the Polymer Institute (Frisch, K.C. and Eldred, E.W., Eds.) Technomic Publishing Co., Lancaster, pp 257-166.

Schroeder, T.M. and Caspers, M.L. (1996).  Kinetics of Aluminum-Induced Inhibition of Delta-Aminolevulinic Acid Dehydratase in VitroBiochem. Pharmacol., 52, 927-931.

Rossi, N.F., O’Leary, D.S., Scislo, T.J., Caspers, M.L. and Chen, H. (1997) Central Endothelin 1 Regulation of Arterial Pressure and Arginine Vasopressin Secretion via the AV3V Region.  Kidney Internatl. 52, Suppl. 61, S22-S26.

Roberts-Kirchhoff, E.S. and Caspers, M.L. (2001) Dialogues as Teaching Tools in the Biochemical Sciences. Biochem. Mol. Biol. Ed. 29, 225-228.

Caspers, M.L. and Roberts-Kirchhoff, E.S. (2003) An Undergraduate Laboratory Course with an Emphasis on a Research Experience.  Biochem. Mol. Biol. Ed. 31, 303-307.

Caspers, M.L. and Roberts-Kirchhoff, E.S. (2003) Incorporation of Ethical and Societal Issues in Biochemistry into a Senior Seminar Course. Biochem. Mol. Biol. Ed. 31, 298-302.

Grants and Awards:

1972   American Chemical Society Award for Achievement in Chemistry,  University of Detroit

1972   Kappa Beta Gamma Senior Scholarship Award for Graduating Woman with highest scholastic average, University of Detroit

1974-1975 Member, Graduate Fellowship & Scholarship Committee, Wayne State University

1976-1977 Recipient, University Graduate Fellowship, Wayne State University

1977-1978 Muscular Dystrophy Association Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined to take position at University of Detroit)

1978 (summer) Visiting Research Investigator in Neurology, University of Michigan Medical School

1978-1981 American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Grant, "The Effect of Lead on the Enzymatic Synthesis and Degradation of Certain Neurotransmitters"

1981   National Reye's Syndrome Foundation, Michigan Region Grant, “Development and Evaluation of  Suitable Reye's Animal Model"

1982  National Science Foundation Travel Award to attend 12th International Congress of  Biochemistry, Perth, Western Australia

1983-1984 Sigma Delta Epsilon, Graduate Women in Science, Eloise Gerry Fellowship, "Determination of Catecholamines and Metabolites in Brain Preparations from a Reye's Syndrome Animal Model"

1984-1985 Guest Researcher for Academic Year, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD

1986   Nominated for University of Detroit President's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research

1986   Keynote Speaker, University of Detroit, Engineering & Science College Honors Convocation

1986   University of Detroit-Faculty Development Award, "Lead Poisoning and the Blood-Brain Barrier"

1986   American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Travel Award to attend 14th International Congress of Biochemistry in Prague, Czechoslovakia

1988-1991    NIH research grant, "Control of Cerebrovascular (Na+ + K+)-ATPase in Hypertension"

1990-1992    American Health Assistance Foundation research grant, "Aluminum and (Na++K+)-ATPase Control in Aging Neurons"

1990   University of Detroit, College of Engineering & Science, Teacher of the Year

1990   Invited Speaker, Fifth International Symposium, "Molecular Sciences in Neurodegeneration and Regeneration"  Biochemistry and Biophysics of Stroke, Neurotrama and Other Neurological Disorders, Bristol, England

1991-1992 Sigma Tau S.p.A., Italy research grant, "Effect of Acetyl-L-Carnitine on the Synaptosomal (Na++K+)-ATPase"

1993-1995 American Federation for Aging Research research grant,  "Influence of Estrogen on High Affinity Choline Uptake during Aging"

1993-1995 Sigma Tau S.p.A., Italy research grant, "Effect of Propionyl-L-Carnitine on the Synaptosomal (Na++K+)-ATPase”

1993-1996 University of Detroit Mercy Center of Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science, EPA research grant "Alterations in Blood Cell Enzymes following Exposure to Aluminum"

1995     University President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research

1995     Award of Appreciation from Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience for dedication to undergraduate education in neuroscience

1995    NSF Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Grant “Use of a Personal Densitometer for the Mini-Project Approach to Curriculum Enrichment in the Undergraduate Biochemistry and Physiology Laboratories”

1995     Camille and Henry Dreyfus Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences “Incorporation of Mini-Research Projects into the Undergraduate Biochemistry Laboratory”

1995   Pfizer Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Mentor - fellowship awarded to Jamira Jones to work in M.L.C.’s laboratory

2000   NSF Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Grant “Improving Undergraduate Chemistry by Incorporation of NMR Spectroscopy Across the Chemistry Curriculum” (co-principal investigator)

1999   Pfizer Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Mentor – fellowship awarded to Tanvi Desai to work in M.L.C.’s laboratory

2001   University of Detroit Mercy Distinguished Faculty Award

2002   Jesuit 100 Association Magis Award

2002, 2003 Awards of Appreciation from Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience for dedication to undergraduate education and service to the organization

2004   University of Detroit Mercy, College of Engineering and Science Cornerstone Award

2004   Educator of the Year, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience

2004   Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience FUN Fellow Award - Honoring ten years of Membership in the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (Served as Councilor, Chair of Travel Award Committee and Secretary)

2008   Recipient of UDM Jesuit 100 Association, Faculty Summer Stipend for Course Development – developed “Food Chemistry” course for non-science majors