Robert J. Cousins is the Boston Family Professor of Nutrition, Director of the Center for Nutritional Sciences, and Joint Professor of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida. Dr. Cousins? education includes a BA in Zoology/Chemistry from the University of Vermont, a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Connecticut and an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biochemistry with Hector DeLuca at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His academic career started at Rutgers University, first in Animal Sciences and then Nutritional Sciences. In 1979 he was advanced to Professor II (Distinguished Professor). In 1982, he moved to the University of Florida for an endowed chair (Boston Family Professor of Nutrition). He led the University?s competitive effort that resulted in a Pew Charitable Trusts Center of Excellence in Nutrition Award which established the Center for Nutritional Sciences, of which he is still director. Professional scientific awards include election as Member of the National Academy of Sciences (2000) and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014). He has received the American Society for Nutrition?s Danone Institute Mentorship Award, USDA Secretary?s Honor Award for Superior Service in Research and presented the W.O. Atwater Lectureship (Agricultural Research Service, USDA). He has presented ten named lectureships in the USA and many others internationally. Professional service has included: President and Board Chair of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB), President of the American Society for Nutrition, Scientific Advisory Committee for the Supporters for Agricultural Research Foundation, the Nutrition Study Section of the NIH, IOM Food and Nutrition Board, and IOM Panel on Micronutrients for Dietary Reference Intakes. He has served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Nutrition and two terms as Editor of the Annual Review of Nutrition.

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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Primary Section

Section 61: Animal, Nutritional, and Applied Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 42: Medical Physiology and Metabolism