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Leona J. Rubin, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology
Office Location: E102 Veterinary Medicine
Office Phone: 573-882-5903

Research Interests

Regulation of heart and blood vessel muscle contraction

Research Description

Dr. Rubin is a basic scientist whose research has always focused on understanding cellular signaling pathways. She began her research career at MU exploring second messenger signaling involved in control of cardiovascular function. Rodent models were employed to explore how immune mediators, released during inflammatory conditions (endotoxemia/sepsis) cause myocardial failure and/or vascular dysfunction through modulation of the activity of specific cellular targets such as potassium and calcium channels or contractile proteins. More recent work explored the signaling mechanism impacted by specific therapeutic modalities such as the anesthetic, ketamine which appears able to protect cardiovascular function during inflammatory states. Related studies utilized a swine model of atherosclerosis and the influence of gender to determine whether exercise had beneficial effects on receptor mediated signaling pathways and function of coronary smooth muscle. Studies that explored cellular signaling pathways involved in vascular metabolic vasodilation which is essential to match blood flow to tissue energy demands during exercise or disease impairment led the research to examine the role of AMP kinase, then a novel signaling pathway. Dr. Rubin’s studies were the first to explore the role of AMPK in vascular smooth muscle function and metabolic vasodilation.  These studies continue in the laboratory with the addition of the AMPK knock out mouse model. A serendipitous finding for this model was an interaction between AMPK alpha-1 KO and the C57Bl6 mouse strain which presents with significant cardiac hypertrophy that resembles physiologic hypertrophy.  Current and future studies are directed at understanding the signaling pathway impacted by this interaction to better understand the cellular pathways that underlie exercise and disease-induced cardiac hypertrophy. 

Professional Background


  • Obtained BA from Temple University.
  • Obtained MS from Rutgers University.
  • Obtained PhD from University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.


2002-Present                     Member, Center for Gender Physiology and Environmental Adaptation, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

1993-Present                     Member; Molecular Biology Program, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

1993-Present                     Research Investigator; Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

1996-Present                     Associate Professor, Dept. Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

1989-1996                         Assistant Professor; Dept. Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

1987-1989                         Research Instructor; Dept. Pharmacology, Washington University School Medicine St Louis, MO

1983-1987                         Research Associate; Dept. Ophthalmology, Washington University School Medicine St Louis, MO

1982-1983                         Postdoctoral Fellow; Dept. Physiology and Biophysics, State University of New York at Stony Brook


Elected Chair: University of Missouri Faculty Council on University Policy  (2009, 2010)

Fellow, University of Missouri President’s Academic Leadership Institute (2008)                               

MU Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women Award: Tribute to MU Women   (2007)

Wakonse Teaching Fellow  (2006)

Inducted as Honorary Member, Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society (2002)

President (Elected), Mid-Missouri Chapter of the National Association for Women in Science (1993)

Executive Board, Mid-MO Chapter of the National Association for Women in Science (1993-2002)

Mentor:  National Science Foundation Summer Research Program for Women in Mathematics, Science and Engineering (1994)

Experimental Eye Research International Travel Fellowship (1986)

Cold Spring Harbor Research Fellowship: Workshop on electrophysiology techniques (1982)

American Assoc Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Graduate Student Travel Fellowship (1981)

Grass Foundation Research Fellowship, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA (1980)

Full research, travel, housing support May-August: Photosensitive signaling pathways of iridial smooth muscle of Lophius piscatorius

Philadelphia Board of Education Scholarship (Tuition/Fees, Temple University) (1967-1971)

Sears and Roebuck Scholarship (Tuition/Fees, Temple University)  (1967-1971)

Editorial Boards

Shock (1999-2006), Recognized journal of the American Shock Society

Selected Publications

  • Zhong J, Hwang T-C, Adams HR, and Rubin LJ: Reduced L-type calcium current in ventricular myocytes from endotoxemic guinea pigs. Am J Physiol, Heart Circ Physiol, 42/5: H2312-2324. 1997.
  • Rigby SL, Hofmann PA, Adams HR and Rubin LJ: Endotoxin-induced myocardial dysfunction is not associated with alterations in myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity. Am J Physiol, Heart Circ Physiol, 43: H580-590. 1998.
  • Jones AW, Rubin LJ and Magliola L: Endothelin-1 sensitivity of porcine coronary arteries is reduced by exercise training and is gender dependent. J Applied Physiol, 87(3): 1172-1177, 1999.
  • Rubin LJ, Johnson LR, Dodam, JR, Dhalla AK, Magliola,L, Laughlin MH and Jones AW: Selective transport of adenosine into porcine coronary smooth muscle. Am J Physiol, 279: H1397-H1410, 2000.
  • Dhalla, AK, Dodam, J, Jones, AW, and Rubin, LJ: Characterization of an NBTI-sensitive nucleoside transporter in vascular smooth muscle. J. Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 33/6, 1143-1152, 2001.
  • Laughlin, MH, Rubin, LJ, Rush, JWE, Price, EM, Schrage, WG, and Woodman, CR. Short-term training increases endothelium-mediated relaxation in conduit coronary arteries, not coronary arterioles. Journal Applied Physiology, 94: 234-244. 2003.
  • Costello, MF, Otto, CM, and Rubin, LJ. The role of tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and the sphingosine pathway in sepsis-induced myocardial failure. J. Vet. Emerg. Crit. Care, 13(1):25-34. 2003.
  • Franke,R, Yang,Y, Rubin, LJ, Magliola, L, and Jones, AW. High fat diet alters adenosine sensitivity and K-currents in porcine coronary arteries. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. 43/4: 495-503. 2004.
  • Bowles,DK, Maddali,KK, Ganjam,V.K., Rubin,LJ, Tharp,DL, Turk, JR, Heaps,CL. Endogenous testosterone increases L-type Ca2+ channel expression in porcine coronary smooth muscle. Am. J. Physiol: 287: H2091-2098. 2004.
  • Rubin, LJ, Magliola, L,  Feng, X, Jones, AW, Hale, CC. Metabolic activation of AMP-kinase in vascular smooth muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology 98: 296-305. 2005.
  • Wang, J, Whitt, SP, Rubin, LJ, Huxley, VH. Differential coronary microvascular exchange responses to adenosine: roles of receptor and microvessel subtypes. Microcirculation, 12(4):313-326. 2005.
  • Layla Al-Nakkash, Lane L. Clarke, George E. Rottinghaus, Yinchieh J. Chen, Kim Cooper, and Leona J. Rubin, Dietary Genistein Stimulates Anion Secretion Across Female Murine Intestine. J. Nutrition 136: 2785-2790. 2006
  • Glinskii, Olga; Abraha, Tsghe; Turk, James; Rubin, Leona; Huxley, Virginia; Glinsky, Vladislav. Microvascular Network Remodeling in Dura Mater of Ovariectomized Pigs: Role for Angiopietin-1 in Estrogen-Dependent Control of Vascular Stability. Am. J. Physiol. 293: H1131-1137. 2007.
  • Yang, Y, Jones, AW, Thomas, TR, Rubin, LJ. Influence of Sex, High Fat Diet, and Exercise Training on Potassium Currents of Swine Coronary Smooth Muscle. Am. J. Physiol. 293: 1553-1563. 2007.
  • Fine, DM, Durham, HE, Rossi, N, Spier, AW, Selting, K, Rubin, LJ.  Echocardiographic assessment of hemodynamic changes produced by two methods of inducing fluid deficit in dogs. J. Veterinary Internal Medicine. 24(2):348-53. 2010.
  • Gaskin, FS, Kamada, K, Zuidema, MY, Jones, AJ, Rubin, LJ, and Korthuis, RJ. Isoform-selective 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent preconditioning mechanisms to prevent postischemic leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesive interactions. Am. J. Physiol. 300(4):H1352-60. 2011.

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