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Robyn Umans, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
  • Sontheimer Lab

During her work in the Sontheimer laboratory, Dr. Umans has been interested in molecular mechanisms of Glioblastoma multiforme invasion. These primary brain tumors bare poor patient prognosis even after treatment, thus finding novel avenues to mitigate tumor behavior are urgently needed. She has specifically focused on 1) regulation of an amino acid transporter, System Xc- and 2) modeling perivascular glioma invasion in zebrafish. For the first aim,  she has investigated p53 as a negative transcriptional regulator of the SLC7A11 gene encoding System Xc-, as a means to modulate glutamate-mediated glioma biology. For her second aim, she has established zebrafish as a suitable model system to investigate the mechanisms by which glioma tumors migrate along the brain vasculature. With her studies of “abnormal glia” and her graduate work on blood-brain barrier development in zebrafish, she plans to focus future work on studying glial-vascular interactions during brain development. Aspects of developmental biology parallel what goes awry in CNS diseases like glioma, so these studies are exciting for further elucidating how development and neurobiology diseases occur.

Umans R.A., ten Kate M., Pollock C., & Sontheimer H. Fishing for contact: Modeling perivascular glioma invasion in the zebrafish brain. bioRxiv 2020.08.15.252544.

Roshandel A. K., Busch C.M., Van Mullekom J., Cuoco, J. A., Rogers C. M., Apfel L. S., Marvin E. A., Sontheimer H. W. & Umans R.A. Correlation between immunohistochemistry and DNA sequencing for determining TP53 functional mutation status: A comparative study of 41 glioblastoma patients. Oncotarget (2019) 

Umans R.A. Using zebrafish to study and visualize barriers of the CNS. In: Wright N (ed) Basic neurobiology techniques, Neuromethods, vol 152. Springer, New York. (2019)

Teitz T., Fang J., Goktug A. N., Bonga J. D., Diao S., Hazlitt R.A., Iconaru L., Morfouace M., Currier D., Zhou Y., Umans R.A., Taylor M. R., Cheng C., Min J., Freeman B., Peng J., Roussel M.F., Kriwacki R., Guy R.K., Chen T., & Zuo J. CDK2 inhibitors as candidate therapeutics for cisplatin- and noise-induced hearing loss. Journal of Experimental Medicine (2018)

Umans R.A. & Sontheimer H. Combating malignant astrocytes: Strategies mitigating tumor invasion. Neuroscience Research (2017) 10.1016/j.neures.2017.09.010

Umans R. A., Henson H. E., Mu F., Parupalli C., Ju B., Peters J. L., Lanham K., Plavicki J., & Taylor M. R. CNS angiogenesis and barriergenesis occur simultaneously. Developmental Biology (2017)

Hatfield M.J., Umans R. A., Hyatt J.L., Edwards C.C., Wierdl M., Tsurkan L., Taylor M.R., & Potter P.M. Carboxylesterases: General detoxifying enzymes. Chemico-Biological Interactions. (2016)

Umans R.A. & Taylor M. R. Zebrafish as a model to study drug transporters at the blood-brain barrier. Clin Pharmacol Ther 92(5), 567-70 (2012). (Provided cover art)

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences with a focus in Neuroscience, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • B.S., Neuroscienc, University of Evansville

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