Department of Chemistry



Renã A. S. Robinson

Adjunct Professor


Chevron Science Center, 219 Parkman Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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Research Overview

Bioanalytical Chemistry, Mass Spectrometry, Proteomics, Ion Mobility Spectrometry

Insight to the mechanisms of aging and immunosenescence with proteomics

The Robinson group utilizes biochemistry, analytical, and bioinformatics tools to analyze complex mixtures isolated from mammalian and human systems.  Aging is one of our interest areas because a fundamental understanding of this phenomenon is lacking.   One particular detriment of human aging is “immunosenescence”, the inevitable loss of functional capacity within the immune system.  This phenomenon is associated with the pathogenesis of age-related diseases including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and muscular/skeletal disorders, and leads to a greater susceptibility to infections, tumors, and possibly cancer.  We are using proteomics to delineate the molecular basis of aging and peripheral immune system changes which occur during aging.  Investigating the aspects of successful aging and immunosenescence allows us to 1) understand  the factors that change in response to the onset of abnormalities or disease, including age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and, 2) identify novel targets that may be useful as anti-aging therapeutics and as preventative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.



  • 2015 ASMS Emerging Investigator by the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
  • 2014 Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award, National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
  • 2012 Keystone Conference Symposium Early Career Travel Award
  • 2010 Summer Research Internship Best Mentor Award, Pitt EXCEL Program
  • 2010 Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh Starter Grant Award
  • 2008 United Negro College Fund/Merck Research Science Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2008 11th International Congress of Alzheimer’s Disease Travel Fellowship
  • 2007 & 2008 Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • UNCF/Merck Research Science Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008-2009
  • Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2007-2009
  • Department of Chemistry, Kraft Fellowship, 2005
  • Department of Education, Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Fellowship, 2001-2002 and 2004


“MS3 based Quantitative Proteomics using Pulsed-Q Dissociation (PQD) ,” Cao, Zhiyun; Evans, Adam R.; Robinson, Renã A. S. , Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, Vol. 29, 2015, Pages 1025-1030
“Multiple Proteases to Localize Oxidation Sites,” Gu, Liqing; Robinson, Renã A. S. , PLoS ONE , Vol. 10, 2015, Pages e0116606
“Global cPILOT Analysis of the APP/PS-1 Mouse Liver Proteome,” Evans, Adam, R.; Guerrero, Rodolfo, Jr.; Robinson, Renã A. S. , Proteomics Clinical Applications Special Issue on Neurological Disorders, 2015, Pages DOI: 10.1002/prca.201400149
“Sample Multiplexing with Cysteine-selective Approaches: cysDML and cPILOT ,” Gu, Liqing.; Evans, Adam R.; Robinson, Renã A. S. , JASMS , Vol. 26, 2015, Pages 615-630
“Insight into the Mechanism of Graphene Oxide Degradation via the Photo-Fenton Reaction,” Bai, Hao; Jiang, Wentao; Kotchey, Gregg P.; Saidi, Wissam A.; Bythell, Benjamin J.; Jarvis, Jacqueline M.; Marshall, A. G.; Robinson, Renã A. S.; Star, A. , J Phys Chem C Nanomater Interfaces, Vol. 118, 2014, Pages 10519-10529
“The Role of Proteomics in Understanding Biological Mechanisms of Sepsis ,”  Cao, Zhiyun.; Robinson, Renã A. S. , Proteomics Clinical Applications, Vol. 8, 2014, Pages 35-52
“Proteome Characterization of Splenocyte Populations from a Double Transgenic Alzheimer Mouse Model,” Cao, Zhiyun; Robinson, Renã A. S. , Proteomics, Vol. 14, 2014, Pages 291-297
“Proteomics Reveals Age-related Differences in the Host Immune Response to Sepsis,” Cao, Zhiyun; Yende, Sachin; Kellum, John A.;Angus, Derek C.; Robinson, Renã A. S. , Journal of Proteome Research, Vol. 13, 2014, Pages 422-432
“Global Combined Precursor Isotopic Labeling and Isobaric Tagging (cPILOT) Approach with selective MS3 Acquisition,” Evans, Adam R.; Robinson, Renã A. S. , Proteomics, Vol. 13, 2013, Pages 3267-3272
“Insights into aging through measurements of the Drosophila proteome as a function of temperature,” Robinson RAS, Kellie JF, Kaufman TC, et al., Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, Vol. 131, 2010, Pages 584-590
“Preclinical Alzheimer disease: Brain oxidative stress, Aβ peptide and proteomics,” Aluise, Christopher D.; Robinson, Rena A. Sowell; Becket, Tina L.; Murphy, M. Paul; Cai, Jian; Pierce, William M.; Markesbery, William R.; Butterfield, D. Allan., Neurobiology of Disease, Vol. 39, 2010, Pages 221-228
“Developing IMS–IMS–MS for rapid characterization of abundant proteins in human plasma,” Valentine, Stephen J.; Kurulugama, Ruwan T.; Bohrer, Brian C.; Merenbloom, Samual I.; Sowell, Renã A.; Clemmer, David E., International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 2009, Pages 283, 149–160
“Proteomics in Animal Models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases,” Sowell, Renã A.; Owen, Joshua B.; Butterfield, D. A., Ageing Res. Reviews, 2009, Pages 8, 1-17
“Peptides and Proteins in Plasma and Cerebrospinal Fluid as Biomarkers for the Prediction, Diagnosis, and Monitoring of Therapeutic Efficacy of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD),” Aluise, Christopher D.; Sowell, Renã A.; Butterfield, D. Allan, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Molecular Basis of Disease, 2008, Pages 1782, 549-558
“Development of a high-throughput IMS-IMS-MS approach for analyzing mixtures of biomolecules,” Kurulugama, Ruwan T.; Valentine, Stephen J.; Sowell, Renã A.; Clemmer, David E., J. Proteomics, 2008, Pages 71, 318-331
“Quantitative Proteomics of a Presymptomatic A53T a-synuclein Drosophila Model of Parkinson’s Disease,” Xun, Zhiyin; Sowell, Renã A.; Kaufman, Thomas C.; Clemmer, David E., Mol Cell Proteomics, 2008, Pages 7, 1191-1203
“Examining the Proteome of Drosophila across Organism Lifespan,” Sowell, Renã A.; Hersberger, Katherine E.; Kaufman, Thomas C.; Clemmer, David E., J. Proteome Res., 2007, Pages 6, 3637-3647
“Nanoflow LC/IMS-MS (and –CID/MS) of Protein Mixtures,” Sowell, Renã A.; Koeniger, Stormy L; Valentine, Stephen J.; Moon, Myeong H.; Clemmer, David E., J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom., 2004, Pages 15, 1341-1353