Robin Clugston (PhD, University of Alberta)


Assistant Professor 

7-49 Medical Sciences Building
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
T6G 2H7 

Tel:  780 492-5915
Fax: 780 248-1995

Educational Background

  • PDF  Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA

  • PhD  Neuroscience, University of Alberta, Canada

  • BSc   Honours Anatomical Sciences, Glasgow University, Scotland

Research Description

Vitamin A (retinoid) homeostasis in health and human disease

                Vitamin A is an essential dietary micronutrient that has important functions in maintaining a healthy body. The active metabolite of dietary vitamin A is retinoic acid, which signals through nuclear receptors to control the expression level of more than 500 genes. The large number of retinoic acid-target genes confers on it important roles in many cellular processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. The overall goal of the Clugston laboratory is to better understand the importance of altered retinoic acid signaling in the pathogenesis of human disease.

Currently, the lab’s major research focus is on the interaction between hepatic retinoid homeostasis and the pathogenesis of alcohol liver disease. Alcohol abuse is a major source of morbidity and mortality in Canada, and the primary organ affected by chronic alcohol consumption is the liver. The spectrum of alcoholic liver disease includes fat accumulation (steatosis), inflammation (hepatitis) and scarring (fibrosis and cirrhosis). Although alcoholic liver disease has been extensively studied, its pathogenesis is incompletely understood, and there are significant gaps in our knowledge concerning its initiation and progression. Based on the existing literature and our own recent work, we believe that alcohol’s effect on hepatic retinoid homeostasis is a significant contributor to the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease.

In addition to our work studying retinoid/alcohol interactions in the liver, the Clugston laboratory has research interests in other aspects of retinoid biology. This includes the importance of retinoic acid signaling in embryonic development, particularly with regard to the diaphragm and the birth defect congenital diaphragmatic hernia, as well as improving our basic understanding of how the body metabolizes and utilizes dietary vitamin A.