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Reimagining the Cellular Function of Lipids

Reimagining the Cellular Function of Lipids

Research groups

Robin on linked-in

Robin Klemm

Dr. rer. nat. (PhD)


Associate Professor of Physiological Metabolism

  • Tutorial Fellow in Medicine, Somerville College

How lipids control the fate, fitness and function of the cells in our body

Lipids as master regulators of cellular functions

The Klemm lab focuses on the molecular basis of lipid metabolism in professional fat storing cells called adipocytes. The lab investigates how lipid transport at membrane contact sites impacts functional remodelling of organelles during cell fate determination in differentiation and nutrient stress.

Robin carried out his PhD work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in the lab of Kai Simons. He worked on mechanisms that sort lipids in the secretory pathway. He developed novel organelle isolation methods to to purify cellular compartments for the analysis by mass spectrometry-based proteomics and lipidomics. The work lead to the presentation of the first quantitative membrane lipidomes of eukaryotic organelles and shed light on the role of sphingolipids and sterols in the formation of secretory vesicles at the trans-Golgi network.

During his postdoctoral work at the Harvard Medical School in the lab of Tom Rapoport, Robin reconstituted homotypic ER fusion pathways with purified GTPases of the dynamin family called Atlastin in metazoans and Sey1p in yeast. Depletion of these ER fusogens had unexpected consequences for lipid droplet biology and whole-body lipid metabolism.

Starting his independent work as a group leader at the University of Zurich, Robin switched his focus to lipid droplet biology in adipocytes. The Klemm lab has identified new molecular machinery coupling mitochondria to the ER and adipocyte lipid droplets. The spatial organisation of metabolism across several organelles is a fascinating aspect of biology: its regulation and control is absolutely crucial for whole body health and metabolic homeostasis.

In 2020, Robin moved his lab to the University of Oxford. At the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, his group investigates the molecular basis of lipid droplet biogenesis in adipocytes, and the role of lipid transport at membrane contact sites in cell fate determination during differentiation and under nutrient stress. The group's fundamental discoveries hold great promise for new therapies of type II diabetes, obesity, lipodystrophies and cardiovascular disease. 

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