Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Cousins, Robert J.
Location University of Florida
Primary Field Animal, Nutritional and Applied Microbial Sciences
Secondary Field Medical Physiology and Metabolism
 Election Citation
Cousins is internationally recognized as a leading authority and investigator of zinc nutrition, metabolism, and function. He defined the hormonal and nutritional factors that regulate zinc metabolism at the cellular and molecular level and thereby significantly improved our understanding of the biological, nutritional, and clinical importance of this micronutrient.
 Research Interests
The Cousins lab has conducted research focused on the biology of zinc, an essential micronutrient. That research has evolved from understanding the physiology of zinc metabolism and homeostasis and how it responds to the dietary zinc supply to elucidating how this micronutrient acts as a signaling molecule. That function utilizes specific transporters to target zinc to specific cellular sites to influence metabolic pathway regulation through activation or inhibition. The Cousins research group has shown how controlled zinc transporter expression and genetic deletion produces influences on cellular function leading to phenotypic changes. These include regulation of host defense mechanisms with relevance to specific diseases and disorders including diabetes, metabolic endotoxemia and inflammation. His experiments are molecular in approach and have ranged from studies at the cellular level, with transgenic mice and controlled zinc intake studies with human subjects. He has had research funding from the NIH since 1972. Research awards include: Future Leader Grant Award (The Nutrition Foundation); Bristol-Myers Squibb/Mead Johnson Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biomedical (Nutrition) Research; American College of Nutrition Research Award; Gamma Sigma Delta Senior Research Award, University of Florida; MERIT Award, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH); Distinguished Scientist Award of the International Society for Trace Element Research in Humans; Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Connecticut; Osborne and Mendel Award and Mead Johnson Award, (American Society for Nutrition).

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