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Renã A. S. Robinson



We are particularly interested in Alzheimer’s disease and sepsis and how the periphery is involved in these disorders. Recently, we have become interested in using our technology to understand the molecular basis of health disparities in Alzheimer’s disease and sepsis. These questions require high-throughput analytical methodology and we specialize in developing novel proteomics approaches involving mass spectrometry that are useful for analyzing complex biological tissues, increasing sample multiplexing capability, and studying oxidative post-translational modifications.

Proteomics Technology:
In order to adequately address problems about aging and disease using proteomics, high-throughput approaches are necessary. This is because investigating changes across many clinical samples, disease stages or aging timepoints, with treatment, or across tissues, etc. can take significant amounts of time. We are working to improve the throughput involved with quantitative proteomics methods with chemical tagging approaches. We have developed an enhanced multiplexing approach that combines precursor isotopic labeling and isobaric tagging (cPILOT) methods and frequently use different types of chemical labeling strategies in our application projects. Currently, we are working to 1) increase sample multiplexing capability for global peptide analysis and 2) develop selective quantitative methods for oxidative post-translational modifications such as 3-nitrotyrosine, protein carbonyls, and cysteine oxidation.

Alzheimer’s Disease and the Periphery
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that devastates millions of aged persons. By 2050, ~15 million persons will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. There is currently no way to cure, delay, or prevent this disease. Many advances have been made that give us valuable insight about the role of the central nervous system in Alzheimer’s disease. We believe that bodily systems outside of the central nervous system contribute significantly to disease pathogenesis and in fact could be initiators of Alzheimer’s disease. We are using proteomics and other ‘omics analyses of animal models and human tissues of Alzheimer’s disease subjects to understand 1) the role of peripheral organs (liver, heart, kidney, etc.) and 2) the role of T-cells in this neurodegenerative disease.

Health Disparities
Racial disparities exist in age-related diseases whereby certain populations of people have higher incidences and risk of disease. Older African Americans and Hispanics are 2-3 times more likely to have Alzheimer’s Disease although they are not the majority of the US population. Additionally, the incidence of severe sepsis is disproportionally higher in African Americans compared to non-Hispanic Whites. There are many factors that could contribute to these disparities such as socioeconomic factors, comorbidities, lifestyle choices, genetics, and others. We are using our suite of proteomics technologies to determine if molecular differences can help to explain health disparities in Alzheimer’s disease and sepsis. These are collaborative projects.

Aging and Infection
Age-related changes in immunity, a process known as immunosenescence, are not well understood. We are interested in understanding immune response in the elderly especially in persons that have infections such as sepsis or age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Our approach to investigating this problem involves proteomics analysis of:

  1. human plasma and immune cell populations and
  2. C. elegans model system, that allows us to study host response to pathogens.