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Robert Colvin, Ph.D.


Biological Sciences 
219 Life Sciences Building


Education: Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1980


Research Interests:  Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience


Neuronal mechanisms of zinc homeostasis, in particular discovering the cellular elements 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. 


Representative Publications:

  • 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. Neuroscience 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 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.