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Molecular Medicine


Paul Robbins, Ph.D.

Department of Molecular Medicine
Florida Campus
Laboratory Website
(561) 228-2126

Other Joint Appointments

Adjunct Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Affiliate Research Professor, Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Florida Atlantic University

Research Focus

The laboratory is developing novel approaches to treat autoimmune (type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis), inflammatory (inflammatory bowel disease, delayed type hypersensitivity) and age-related degenerative diseases using biologics and small molecules. The therapeutic approaches being developed include: 1) AAV mediated gene transfer of anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive agents; 2) peptide and small molecule inhibitors of the transcription factor of NF-kB; 3) novel osteogenic peptides; 4) adult stem cells; and 5) microvesicles exosomes) derived from immunoregulatory or stem cells able to block inflammation or promote regeneration. Although the majority of the studies are being performed in mouse models of disease, approaches to treat osteoarthritis by AAV gene transfer and Duchenne muscular dystrophy with a NF-kB inhibitory peptide will soon be entering the clinic.


B.A., Biology, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, 1980
Ph.D., Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California, 1985

Professional Experience

1986 – 1990: Postdoctoral Fellow, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1990 – 1995: Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
1991 – 2006: Director, Vector Core Facility, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
1996 – 1999: Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
1997 – 2001: Interim Director, Molecular and Cellular Oncology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
2000 – 2012: Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
2001 – 2012: Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
2001 – 2007: Director of Basic Research, Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
2003 – 2009: Co-Director, Paul Wellstone Cooperative Center of Excellence in Muscular Dystrophy
2004 – 2005: Interim Director, Clinical Vector and Vaccine Production Facility
2012 – Present: Professor, Department of Metabolism and Aging, The Scripps Research Institute, Jupiter Florida
2012 – Present: Adjunct Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Awards & Professional Activities

1976-1980: Magill-Rhodes Scholarship, Haverford College
1980: High Honors in Biology, Haverford College
1986-1989: Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research Fellowship
1998: Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry Faculty of the Year
1999: Volvo Award Prize for Best Basic Science Paper in lower back pain research
1999: North American Spine Society Award for a 1999 Outstanding Paper
1999: Founder's Award Prize from the Eastern Orthopaedic Association for outstanding paper
1999: Gerhard-Kuntscher-Preis
2000: Synos Research Award
2004: Nicolas Andry Award
2005: ORS Kappa Delta Award
2009: JDRF Kugel Award

Editorial Boards
Associate Editor, Gene Therapy (2002-2009)
Editorial Board, Gene Therapy and Molecular Biology
Editorial Board, Journal of Gene Medicine
Editorial Board, Cancer Gene Therapy
Editorial Board, Arthritis Research
Editorial Board, Journal of Extracellular Vesicles

Selected References

Zhu Y, Doornebal EJ, Pirtskhalava T, Giorgadze N, Wentworth M, Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Tchkonia T, Kirkland JL., New agents that target senescent cells: the flavone, fisetin, and the BCL-XL inhibitors, A1331852 and A1155463.  Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Mar 8. doi: 10.18632/aging.101202. PMID: 28273655

Flores RR, Clauson CL, Cho J, Lee BC, McGowan SJ, Baker DJ, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD., Expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells with aging in the bone marrow of mice through a NF-κB-dependent mechanism., Aging Cell. 2017 Feb 23. doi: 10.1111/acel.12571. [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 28229533

Schafer MJ, White TA, Iijima K, Haak AJ, Ligresti G, Atkinson EJ, Oberg AL, Birch J6, Salmonowicz H, Zhu Y, Mazula DL, Brooks RW, Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Pirtskhalava T, Prakash YS, Tchkonia T, Robbins PD, Aubry MC, Passos JF, Kirkland JL, Tschumperlin D, Kita H, LeBrasseur NK., Cellular senescence mediates fibrotic pulmonary disease. Nat Commun. 2017 Feb 23;8:14532. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14532. PMID: 28230051

Zhao J, Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Gurkar AU, Flores RR, Dorronsoro A, Stolz DB, St Croix CM, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD., Quantitative Analysis of Cellular Senescence in Culture and In Vivo., Curr Protoc Cytom. 2017 Jan 5;79:9.51.1-9.51.25. DOI: 10.1002/cpcy.16, PMID: 28055114

Burd CE, Gill MS, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Austad SN, Barzilai N, Kirkland JL, J Gerontol, Barriers to the Preclinical Development of Therapeutics that Target Aging Mechanisms.  A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Nov;71(11):1388-1394. Epub 2016 Aug 16, PMID: 27535964 PMCID: PMC5055650 DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glw112

Montenegro-Burke JR, Phommavongsay T, Aisporna AE, Huan T, Rinehart D, Forsberg E, Poole FL, Thorgersen MP, Adams MW1, Krantz G2, Fields MW2, Northen TR, Robbins PD, Niedernhofer LJ, Lairson L, Benton HP, Siuzdak G.,  Smartphone Analytics: Mobilizing the Lab into the Cloud for Omic-Scale Analyses.  Anal Chem. 2016 Oct 4;88 (19):9753-9758. Epub 2016 Sep 15, PMID: 27560777 PMCID: PMC5054939 [Available on 2017-08-25] DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b02676

Takayama, K, Kawakami, Y, Lavasani, M, Mu, X, Cummins, JH, Yurube, T, Kuroda, R, Kurosaka, M, Fu, FH, Robbins, PD, Niedernhofer, LJ, Huard, J., mTOR signaling plays a critical role in the defects observed in muscle-derived stem/progenitor cells isolated from a murine model of accelerated aging., J Orthop Res. 2016 Aug 30. DOI: 10.1002/jor.23409. [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 27572850

Zhu Y, Tchkonia T, Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Dai HM3, Ling YY, Stout MB, Pirtskhalava T, Giorgadze N, Johnson KO, Giles CB, Wren JD, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Kirkland JL., Identification of a novel senolytic agent, navitoclax, targeting the Bcl-2 family of anti-apoptotic factors., Aging Cell. 2016 Jun; 15(3):428-35. doi: 10.1111/acel.12445. Epub 2016 Mar 18, PMID: 26711051 PMCID: PMC4854923

Robbins PD, Dorronsoro A, Booker CN, Regulation of chronic inflammatory and immune processes by extracellular vesicles. J Clin Invest. 2016 Apr 1;126(4):1173-80. doi: 10.1172/JCI81131. Epub 2016 Apr, PMID: 27035808 PMCID: PMC4811148 [Available on 2017-04-01]

Zhu Y, Tchkonia T, Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Dai HM, Ling YY, Stout MB, Pirtskhalava T, Giorgadze N, Johnson KO, Giles CB, Wren JD, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Kirkland JL, Identification of a novel senolytic agent, navitoclax, targeting the Bcl-2 family of anti-apoptotic factors, Aging Cell. 2016 Jun;15(3):428-35. doi: 10.1111/acel.12445. Epub 2016 Mar 18, PMID: 26711051 PMCID: PMC4854923

Zhang C, Ferrari R, Beezhold K, Stearns-Reider K, D'Amore A, Haschak M, Stolz D, Robbins PD, Barchowsky A, Ambrosio F., Arsenic Promotes NF-Κb-Mediated Fibroblast Dysfunction and Matrix Remodeling to Impair Muscle Stem Cell Function., Stem Cells. 2016 Mar;34(3):732-42. doi: 10.1002/stem.2232. Epub 2016 Jan 8, PMID: 26537186 PMCID: PMC4817845 [Available on 2017-03-01]

Flores RR, Kim E, Zhou L, Yang C, Zhao J, Gambotto A, Robbins PD., IL-Y, a synthetic member of the IL-12 cytokine family, suppresses the development of type 1 diabetes in NOD mice., Eur J Immunol. 2015 Nov;45(11):3114-25. doi: 10.1002/eji.201445403. Epub 2015 Sep 1, PMID: 26260044 PMCID: PMC4823813

Zahid M, Robbins PD., Cell-type specific penetrating peptides: therapeutic promises and challenges., Molecules. 2015 Jul 20;20(7):13055-70. doi: 10.3390/molecules200713055, PMID: 26205050

Reay DP, Bastacky SI, Wack KE, Stolz DB, Robbins PD, Clemens PR, D-Amino Acid Substitution of Peptide-Mediated NF-κB Suppression in mdx Mice Preserves Therapeutic Benefit in Skeletal Muscle, but Causes Kidney Toxicity, Mol Med. 2015 May 22;21:442-52. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2013.00141 PMID: 26018805 PMCID: PMC4559531

Zhu Y, Tchkonia T, Pirtskhalava T, Gower AC, Ding H, Giorgadze N, Palmer AK, Ikeno Y, Hubbard GB, Lenburg M, O'Hara SP, LaRusso NF, Miller JD, Roos CM, Verzosa GC, LeBrasseur NK, Wren JD, Farr JN, Khosla S, Stout MB, McGowan SJ, Fuhrmann-Stroissnigg H, Gurkar AU, Zhao J, Colangelo D, Dorronsoro A, Ling YY, Barghouthy AS, Navarro DC, Sano T, Robbins PD, Niedernhofer LJ, Kirkland JL, The Achilles' heel of senescent cells: from transcriptome to senolytic drugs., Aging Cell. 2015 Aug;14(4):644-58. doi: 10.1111/acel.12344.  PMID: 25754370

Zhao J, Li X, McGowan S, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD. NF-κB activation with aging: characterization and therapeutic inhibition., Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1280:543-57. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2422-6_32. PMID: 25736771

Gao S, McMillan RP, Jacas J, Zhu Q, Li X, Kumar GK, Casals N, Hegardt FG, Robbins PD, Lopaschuk GD, Hulver MW, Butler AA, Regulation of substrate oxidation preferences in muscle by the peptide hormone adropin., Diabetes. 2014 Oct;63(10):3242-52. doi: 10.2337/db14-0388. Epub 2014 May 21. PMID: 24848071 PMCID: PMC4171656

Robbins PD, Morelli AE, Regulation of immune responses by extracellular vesicles. Nat Rev Immunol. 2014 Mar;14(3):195-208. doi: 10.1038/nri3622, PMID: 24566916 PMCID: PMC4350779

Tilstra JS, Gaddy DF, Zhao J, Davé SH, Niedernhofer LJ, Plevy SE, Robbins PD., Pharmacologic IKK/NF-κB inhibition causes antigen presenting cells to undergo TNFα dependent ROS-mediated programmed cell death. Sci Rep. 2014 Jan 10;4:3631. doi: 10.1038/srep03631. PMID: 24406986 PMCID: PMC3887388

Dorronsoro A, Robbins PD. Regenerating the injured kidney with human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell-derived exosomes. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2013 Apr 25;4(2):39. doi: 10.1186/scrt187. PMID: 23680102 PMCID: PMC3706756

Vo N, Niedernhofer LJ, Nasto LA, Jacobs L, Robbins PD, Kang J, Evans CH., An overview of underlying causes and animal models for the study of age-related degenerative disorders of the spine and synovial joints. J Orthop Res. 2013 Jun;31(6):831-7. doi: 10.1002/jor.22204. Epub 2013 Mar 11. PMID: 23483579 PMCID: PMC3628921

Lavasani M, Lu A, Thompson SD, Robbins PD, Huard J, Niedernhofer LJ., Isolation of muscle-derived stem/progenitor cells based on adhesion characteristics to collagen-coated surfaces. Methods Mol Biol. 2013;976:53-65. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-317-6_5, PMID: 23400434 PMCID: PMC3731996

Nasto LA, Robinson AR, Ngo K, Clauson CL, Dong Q, St Croix C, Sowa G, Pola E, Robbins PD, Kang J, Niedernhofer LJ, Wipf P, Vo NV., Mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a causal role in aging-related intervertebral disc degeneration. J Orthop Res. 2013 Jul;31(7):1150-7. doi: 10.1002/jor.22320. Epub 2013 Feb 6. PMID: 23389888 PMCID: PMC3668354

Evans CH1, Ghivizzani SC, Robbins PD. Arthritis gene therapy and its tortuous path into the clinic. Transl Res. 2013 Apr;161(4):205-16. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2013.01.002. Epub 2013 Jan 29, PMID: 23369825 PMCID: PMC3602127

Chen Q, Liu K, Robinson AR, Clauson CL, Blair HC, Robbins PD, Niedernhofer LJ, Ouyang H., DNA damage drives accelerated bone aging via an NF-κB-dependent mechanism, J Bone Miner Res. 2013 May;28(5):1214-28. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.1851. PMID: 23281008 PMCID: PMC3662975

Nasto LA, Wang D, Robinson AR, Clauson CL, Ngo K, Dong Q, Roughley P, Epperly M, Huq SM, Pola E, Sowa G, Robbins PD, Kang J, Niedernhofer LJ, Vo NV. Genotoxic stress accelerates age-associated degenerative changes in intervertebral discs. Mech Ageing Dev. 2013 Jan-Feb;134(1-2):35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2012.11.002. Epub 2012 Dec 19, PMID: 23262094 PMCID: PMC3558562

Xun Z, Rivera-Sánchez S, Ayala-Peña S, Lim J, Budworth H, Skoda EM, Robbins PD, Niedernhofer LJ, Wipf P, McMurray CT. Targeting of XJB-5-131 to mitochondria suppresses oxidative DNA damage and motor decline in a mouse model of Huntington's disease. Cell Rep. 2012 Nov 29;2(5):1137-42. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Nov 1. PMID: 23122961 PMCID: PMC3513647

Barba M, Pirozzi F, Saulnier N, Vitali T, Natale MT, Logroscino G, Robbins PD, Gambotto A, Neri G, Michetti F, Pola E, Lattanzi W. Lim mineralization protein 3 induces the osteogenic differentiation of human amniotic fluid stromal cells through Kruppel-like factor-4 downregulation and further bone-specific gene expression. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:813894. doi: 10.1155/2012/813894. Epub 2012 Oct 2. PMID: 23097599 PMCID: PMC3471036

Zahid M1, Robbins PD. Protein transduction domains: applications for molecular medicine. Ther. 2012 Oct;12(5):374-80. PMID: 22920684

Tilstra, J. S., Robinson, A. R., Wang, J., Gregg, S., Clauson, C. L., Reay, D., Nasto, L. A., St. Croix, C., Vo, N., Usas, A., Huard, J., Clemens, P. A., Stoltz, D., Guttridge, D.C., Watkins, S.C., Garinis, G.A., Wang, Y., Niedernhofer, L.J., and P. D. Robbins. (2012) NF-kB inhibition delays DNA damage-inducedsenescence and aging in mice. J. Clin. Invest. 122:2601-12. PMC3386805

Yang, C., Ruffner, M. A., Kim, S.-H., and Robbins, P. D. (2012) Plasma-derived MHCII+ exosomes from tumor-bearing mice suppress tumor antigen-specific immune responses. Eur. J. Immunol. 42:1778-84. PMC3471134

Yang C, Chalasani G, Ng YH, Robbins PD. Exosomes released from Mycoplasma infected tumor cells activate inhibitory B cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e36138. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036138. Epub 2012 Apr 27. PMID: 22558358 PMCID: PMC3338602

Yang C, Robbins PD, Immunosuppressive exosomes: a new approach for treating arthritis, Int J Rheumatol. 2012;2012:573528. doi: 10.1155/2012/573528. Epub 2012 Mar 6. PMID: 22548070 PMCID: PMC3324137

Wang J, Clauson CL, Robbins PD, Niedernhofer LJ, Wang Y.  The oxidative DNA lesions 8,5'-cyclopurines accumulate with aging in a tissue-specific manner. Aging Cell. 2012 Aug;11(4):714-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2012.00828.x. Epub 2012 May 22. PMID: 22530741 PMCID: PMC3399950

Reay, J., Gambotto, A. and Robbins, P. D. (2012) The Anti-tumor Effects of Adenoviral-Mediated, Intra-tumoral delivery of Interleukin 23 require Endogenous IL-12. Can. Gene Therapy, 19:135-43. PMC3508719

Lavasani, M., Robinson, A. R., Lu, A., Tilstra, J., Feduska, J. M., Robbins, P. D., Niedernhofer, L. J., and Huard, J. (2012) Muscle-derived stem/progenitor cell dysfunction limits healthspan and lifespan in a murine progeria model. Nat. Commun. 3:608. doi:10.1038/ncomms1611. PMC3272577

Gaddy, D. F., Riedel, M. J., Bertera, S., Kieffer, T. J, and P. D. Robbins. (2011) DsAAV8-mediated gene transfer and ß cell expression of IL-4 and b-cell growth factors is capable of reversing early-onset diabetes in NOD mice. Gene Ther. 19:791-9. PMID22089495

Yang, C., Kim, S.-H, Bianco, N. R. and Robbins, P. D. (2011) Tumor-Derived Exosomes Confer Antigen-Specific Immunosuppression in a Murine Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity Model. PLoS ONE6:e22517. PMC3149056

Tilstra JS, Clauson CL, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD. NF-κB in Aging and Disease. Aging Dis. 2011 Dec;2(6):449-65. Epub 2011 Dec 2. PMID: 22396894 PMCID: PMC3295063

Ruffner, M. A. and Robbins, P. D. (2010) Dendritic cells transduced to express interleukin 4 reduce diabetes onset in both normoglycemic and prediabetic nonobese diabetic mice. PLoS ONE 5:e1184. PMC2912295

Gaddy, D. F., Riedel, M. J., Pejawar-Gaddy, S., Kieffer, T. J, and P. D. Robbins. (2010) In vivo expression of HGF/NK1 and GLP-1 From dsAAV vectors enhances pancreatic ß-cell proliferation and improves pathology in the db/db mouse model of diabetes. Diabetes 59:3108-3016. PMC2992772

Ruffner, M. A., Kim, S. H., Bianco, N. R., Francisco, L. M., Sharpe, A. H. and P. D. Robbins. (2009) B7-1/2, but not PD-L1/2 molecules, are required on IL-10-treated tolerogenic DC and DC-derived exosomes for in vivo function. E. Jour. Immunol. 39:3084-3090. PMC3075967

Bianco, N., Kim, S.-H., Ruffner, M and Robbins, P. D. (2009) Therapeutic effect of exosomes from indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-positive dendritic cells in collagen-induced arthritis and delayed-type hypersensitivity disease models. Arthritis&Rheum. 60:380-9. PMID: 19180475 PMCID: PMC3491653 DOI: 10.1002/art.24229

Lefèvre, S., Knedla, A., Tennie. C., Kampmann, A., Wunrau, C., Dinser, R., Korb, A., Schnäker, E. M., Tarner, I. H., Robbins, P. D., Evans, C. H., Stürz, H., Steinmeyer, J., Gay, S., Schölmerich, J., Pap, T., Müller-Ladner, U.,and Neumann, E. (2009) Synovial fibroblasts spread rheumatoid arthritis to unaffected joints. Nat. Med. 15:1414-1420. NIHMS406794 PMID: 19898488 PMCID: PMC3678354 DOI: 10.1038/nm.2050


Department of Metabolism & Aging

Two Noted Scientists Appointed to Metabolism and Aging Department

Molecular Medicine Seminar Series
Center for Physiological Proteomics
Department Contacts

CA Faculty

Asahara, Hiroshi
Balch, William E.
Boddy, Michael
Buxbaum, Joel
Catz, Sergio
Conti, Bruno
Cravatt, Benjamin
D'Lima, Darryl
DerMardirossian, Celine
Deryugina, Elena
Elias, Darlene
Encalada, Sandra
Felding, Brunhilde
Fowler, Velia
Friedlander, Martin
Gerace, Larry
Gottesfeld, Joel
Griffin, John
Hanneken, Anne
Heeb, Mary Jo
Henderson, Scott
Hoch, James
Johnson, Eric
Kanaji, Taisuke
Koziol, James
Lamia, Katja
Lazzerini Denchi, Eros
Lipton, Stuart
Loring, Jeanne F.
Loskutoff, David
Lotz, Martin
Makarenkova, Helen P.
Mc Millan, Robert
Miles, Lindsey
Milner, Richard
Modena, Brian
Mosnier, Laurent
Nicholson, Laura
Paulson, James C.
Perego, Marta
Petrascheck, Michael
Pollard, Kenneth Michael
Quigley, James P.
Reed, Steven
Roberts, Edward
Rosen, Hugh
Ruggeri, Zaverio
Russell, Paul
Saez, Enrique
Smider, Vaughn
Srinivasan, Supriya
Steinhubl, Steven
Sutcliffe, J.
Tan, Eng
Topol, Eric
Vanderklish, Peter
Vogt, Peter K.
Wiseman, Luke
Wittenberg, Curt
Wolan, Dennis W.
Wu, Peng
Wu, Xiaohua
Yang, Xiang-Lei
Yates III, John

FL Faculty

Bannister, Thomas
Bohn, Laura M.
Cameron, Michael
Duckett, Derek
Gill, Matt
Griffin, Patrick
Hansen, Scott
Joazeiro, Claudio
Kamenecka, Theodore
Kissil, Joseph
Luo, Junli
McDonald, Patricia
Miller, Courtney
Niedernhofer, Laura
Phinney, Donald G.
Robbins, Paul
Scampavia, Louis
Schimmel, Paul
Smith, Roy
Spicer, Timothy

Affiliated Faculty

Cline, Hollis
Kojetin, Douglas
Lairson, Luke
Paegel, Brian
Rumbaugh, Gavin
Shen, Ben
Solt, Laura A
Su, Andrew
Wu, Chunlei
Ye, Li

Adjunct Faculty