6-155 Jackson Hall, 321 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
My research career has been dedicated to investigating the impact of DNA damage on the structure of DNA, cell function and organism health. The DNA in each of our cells is damaged thousands of times per day by exposure to environmental factors, dietary components, chemotherapeutic agents and even endogenous by-products of normal metabolism. Studying patients with rare diseases caused by inherited defects in DNA repair provides important insight into the consequences of DNA damage. These patients have a dramatically increased risk of cancer and age prematurely. We engineered mouse models of these genome instability syndromes as a sensitive tool to test hypotheses about how DNA damage promotes cancer and aging.
The pathways important for driving autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as age related degeneration are surprisingly similar. For example, inhibition of the transcription factor NF-?B is therapeutic in mouse models of autoimmunity and inflammation as well as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and aging. Similarly, inhibition of IL-1ß signaling by gene transfer of the IL-1 receptor antagonist protein is therapeutic in multiple models of diseases. The Robbins 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-?B; 3) Novel osteogenic peptides; 4) Adult stem cells; 5) Microvesicles (exosomes) derived from immunoregulatory or stem cells able to block inflammation or promote regeneration; and 6) Identification of drugs able to reverse cellular senescence for improving healthy aging. Although the majority of the studies are being performed in mouse models of disease, approaches to treat osteoarthritis by intra-articular AAV-mediated gene transfer and Duchenne muscular dystrophy by systemic treatment with a NF-?B inhibitory peptide will soon be entering the clinic.
Age is associated with increased inflammation, visceral adiposity and metabolic disease. Tissue resident immune cells are required for dampening inflammation and maintaining tissue homeostasis. There are changes in resident immune cells that drive the increased inflammation and metabolic impairments that are seen with increased age. We are studying the cellular and molecular changes within tissue resident immune cells that drive metabolic impairments in tissues. In particular, we are focused on lipolysis, a metabolic process that is required for release of energetic substrates from stored triglycerides in adipocytes. Lipolysis is impaired in aged individuals and this impairment may contributes to a worsened ability of elderly to maintain a healthy body-weight, stay warm or exercise. Our work has previously shown that adipose tissue immune cells reside in microenvironment niches and are able to inhibit lipolysis in the aged adipose tissue. There are two broad projects within the lab: Adipose tissue macrophage-specific regulatory effects on lipolysis and inflammation during aging Fat-associated lymphoid cluster (FALC) and lymphocyte regulation of metabolism Our lab focuses on mouse models of aging and uses a wide variety of techniques to investigate the changes occurring with age. We combine this in vivo approach with a complementary in vitro cell culture system to better understand a direct mechanism. Ultimately, our goal is to generate candidates that could be targets for therapeutically treating to improve health span and restore metabolism in the elderly.
Dr. Dong obtained his PhD in bioinformatics in the Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2013. He completed postdoc training in the Department of Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2021. Since 2021, he started the Xiao Dong laboratory in the Institute of the Biology of Aging (iBAM) and the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development (GCD) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Alessandro Bartolomucci, PhD
Catherine M. Kotz, PhD
David A. Bernlohr, PhD
Distinguished McKnight Professor and Head
David D. Thomas, PhD
William F. Dietrich Professor
Dawn A. Lowe, PhD
Douglas G. Mashek, PhD
Professor of BMBB and Medicine (Joint Appointment)
Edgar Arriaga, PhD
Joseph M. Metzger, PhD
Professor, Department Head and Chair
Teresa McCarthy, MD, MS
Associate Professor (Joint Appointment)
Ingunn Stromnes, PhD
Timothy Pruett, MD
Professor Division of Transplantation
Beshay Zordoky, MSc, PhD
Kenneth Beckman, PhD
Timothy Griffin, PhD
Tom Hays, PhD
Professor and Head
Stephen Jameson, PhD
Professor and Chairman's Fund Professorship in Experimental Pathology
Ling Li, PhD
Professor and Associate Department Head
Christina Pacak, Ph.D.
Daniel Schmidt, PhD
Christopher Faulk, PhD
Lisiane Pruinelli, PhD, RN, FAMIA
Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD
Dean of Medical School, Vice President for Clinical Affairs
Sara Hamilton Hart, PhD