Search within:

Robert A. Colvin

Robert Colvin, portrait in lab
Professor Emeritus of Physiology
Irvine 112

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Recent News

Courses Taught

  • BIOS 1700 Biological Sciences I: Molecules and Cells
  • BIOS 1030 Human Biology
  • BIOS 4/5140 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
  • MCB 7410 Seminar in Molecular Biology
  • MCB 7600 Advanced Cell Biology

Research Interests

  • Lab: Life Science Building 210 A/B

Neuronal mechanisms of zinc homeostasis, in particular discovering the cellular mechanisms that are responsible for buffering cytosolic free zinc concentrations and those involved in the control and regulation of cytosolic zinc transients. Such knowledge is important for giving us a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of neural degeneration in diseases such as stroke and Alzheimer's disease.


I received a Ph.D in cell physiology from Rutgers University. As a postdoctoral fellow in Cardiology at the University of Connecticut I was at the forefront of research on the then newly discovered cardiac Na/Ca exchanger and its role in cardiac disease. I switched my research focus after my postdoctoral stint to studying neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's disease and stroke. Here I studied the role of ion transport and calcium ion dysregulation in neuronal death. I soon became interested in zinc and its role in neurodegeneration, but realized that the field was in its infancy compared to studies of calcium ion homeostasis. I have been a successful PI on several previous and current university- and NIH-funded grants to study the role of zinc in neurodegeneration. As PI, I directed the research program, mentored and trained several successful graduate students, and wrote several peer reviewed publications for each project. I have been a successful research collaborator; this is particularly evidenced in research that I undertook studying mechanisms of cognitive decline in aging and analyzing zinc in cultured neurons using X-ray fluorescence at Argonne National Lab.

Representative Publications

Sun B-L, Wang L-h, Yang T, Sun J-y, Mao L-l, Yang M-f, Yuan, Hui, Colvin, RA, Yang, X-y Lymphatic drainage system of the brain: A novel target for intervention of neurological diseases. Progress in Neurobiology in press 2017.

Qin Y., Gee K.R., Jin Q., Lai B., Qian C., Colvin R.A. Current Methods Used to Probe and Quantify Intracellular Total and Free Zn(II) Dynamics, and Subcellular Distribution in Cultured Neurons. In: Metals in the Brain, Measurement and Imaging, Neuromethods, 124:195-224, 2017 doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-6918-0_11.

Colvin RA, Jin Q, Lai B, Kiedrowski L. Visualizing Metal Content and Intracellular Distribution in Primary Hippocampal Neurons with Synchrotron X-Ray Fluorescence. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(7):e0159582. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159582.

Qian C, Colvin RA. Letters to the Editor: Zinc Modulation of Cardiac Ryanodine Receptor Gating: Alternate Interpretation of the Interplay between Zinc and Calcium. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2016291:4266, 2016.

Qian C, Colvin RA. Zinc flexes its muscle: Correcting a novel analysis of calcium for zinc interference uncovers a method to measure zinc. J Gen Physiol. Jan;147(1):95-102, 2016 doi: 10.1085/jgp.201511493.

Colvin R.A, Lai B, Holmes, WR and Lee, D. Understanding metal homeostasis in primary cultured neurons. Studies using single neuron subcellular and quantitative metallomics. Metallomics, 2015, 7:1111-1123. Published correction: Metallomics 7, 1371 – 1371, 2015.

Lee MJ, Colvin RA and Lee D. Alterations of Dopaminergic Synapse and Mitochondrial Structure by Parkinson’s Disease Toxins. J Mol Biol & Mol Imaging. 1(2): 6, 2014.

Qian Y, Wang X, Liu Y, Li Y, Colvin RA, Tong L, Wu S, Chen X. Extracellular ATP is internalized by macropinocytosis and induces intracellular ATP increase and drug resistance in cancer cells. Cancer Letters 351:242-51, 2014.

Liu Y, Cao Y, Zhang W, Bergmeier S, Qian Y, Akbar H, Colvin RA, Ding J, Tong L, Wu S, Hines J, and Chen X. A Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Glucose Transporter 1 Down regulates Glycolysis, Induces Cell-Cycle Arrest, and Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth In Vitro and In Vivo. Mol Cancer Ther 11: 1672-1682, 2012.

Colvin R.A. and Liu J. Proceedings from the Great Lakes Bioinformatics Conference 2011. Preface. BMC bioinformatics 13 Suppl 2: I1, 2012

Fontaine, C.P., Ryan, T.J., Coschigano, P.W., and Colvin, R.A. Novel Testing of a Biological Safety Cabinet Using PCR. Applied Biosafety: Journal of the American Biological Safety Association 15:186-196, 2010.

Colvin, R.A., Holmes, W.R., Fontaine, C.P., and Maret, W. Cytosolic zinc buffering and muffling: their role in intracellular zinc homeostasis. Metallomics 2:306-317, 2010.

Qin, Y., Thomas, D., Fontaine, C.P., and Colvin, R.A. Silencing of ZnT1 reduces Zn2+ efflux in cultured cortical neurons. Neurosci Letters 450:206-210, 2009.

Pawlowski, T.L., Bellush, L.L., Wright, A.W., Walker, J.P., Colvin, R.A., and Huentelman, M.J. Hippocampal gene expression changes during age-related cognitive decline. Brain Research 1256:101-110, 2009.

Qin, Y., Thomas, D., Fontaine, C.P., and Colvin, R.A. Mechanisms of Zn2+ efflux in cultured cortical neurons. Journal of Neurochemistry 107:1304-1313, 2008.

Colvin, R.A., Bush, A.I., Volitakis, I., Fontaine, C.P., Thomas, D., Kikuchi, K., and Holmes, W.R., Insights into Zn2+ homeostasis in neurons from experimental and modeling studies. American Journal of Cell Physiology 294:C726-C742, 2008.