Robert P. Donaldson

Robert P. Donaldson

Chair, Professor of Biology
Bell Hall 303
Phone: 202-994-6094


Lab phone: 202-994-6931

Professor Donaldson is also faculty Co-Director for Undergraduate Research at GWU in association with the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CUFR).  Also, a Fulbright Senior Specialist for Science Education. He specializes in oxidations in peroxisomes.

Areas of Expertise

Cell and molecular biology, plant biochemistry; proteins of peroxisomes; protein oxidation; hydrogen peroxide metabolism. 

Current Research

My laboratory research concerns the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and its effects on proteins such as those found in peroxisomes.  H2O2 is produced by oxidases, such as glucose oxidase and fatty acid oxidases.  H2O2 can be consumed by antioxidant activities such as catalase and ascorbate peroxidase in peroxisomes.  The research involves biochemical analyses together with computational modeling.  I also collaborate with Profs. Alex Jeremic and Akos Vertes on the physical characteristics of the pancreatic amylin peptide as it interacts with copper ions or forms toxic aggregates.  This research involves the use of mass spectroscopy techniques developed in Prof. Vertes lab.  If not detoxified H2O2 can oxidize proteins resulting in a loss of function.  I am also interested in education research, in particular the effects of active learning on student performance in undergraduate biology courses.


B.A., Biology, University of Texas, 1964
M.S., Botany, Miami University, OH, 1966
Ph.D., Biochemistry, Michigan State University, MI, 1971


Li H.,  Ha E.*, Donaldson R.P., Jeremic A.M., Vertes A.  2015. Rapid Assessment of Human Amylin Aggregation and its Inhibition by Copper(II) Ions Revealed by Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry with Ion Mobility Separation.  Submitted to Analytical Biochemistry May 2015.

Lee E.*, Ha E.*, Singh S., Legesse L., Ahmad S.*, Karnaukhova E., Donaldson R.P. and Jeremic A.M. 2013. Formation of Low Redox-Active Copper (II)-Human Amylin Complex Protects Pancreatic Cells from Amylin Toxicity.   Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 15(30):12558-71.
Donaldson R.P.  2011. A Classic Peroxisome Article from 1969. Plant Physiology (online "Classics Collection" of 25 selected papers that had important roles in shaping plant biology research).
Anand P*, Kwak Y, Simha R, Donaldson RP. 2009. Hydrogen peroxide induced oxidation of peroxisomal malate synthase and catalase.. Arch Biochem Biophys 491:25-31.
Nguyen A.T., Donaldson R.P. 2005. Metal-catalyzed oxidation induces carbonylation of peroxisomal proteins and loss of enzymatic activities. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2005 Jul 1;439(1): 25-31.

Yanik T., Donaldson R.P. 2005 A protective association between catalase and isocitrate lyase in peroxisomes. Arch Biochem Biophys. 435(2): 243-52.

Karyotou K., Donaldson R.P. 2005. Ascorbate peroxidase, a scavenger of hydrogen peroxide in glyoxysomal membranes. Arch Biochem Biophys. Feb 15;434(2): 248-57.

Donaldson R.P. 2002 Peroxisomal membrane proteins. In: A Baker and IA Grahm, eds, Plant peroxisomes, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 259-278.

Donaldson R.P., Karyotou K., Assadi M., Olcum T. 2000. Peroxisomes and glyoxysomes in plants. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Internet publication of Nature/McMillan Press.

Wolins N.E., Donaldson R.P. 1997. Binding of the peroxisomal protein targeting sequence SKL is specified by a low-affinity site in castor bean glyoxysomal membranes. A domain next to the SKL binds to a high-affinity site. Plant Physiol. 113: 943-949.

Del Rio L.A., Donaldson R.P. 1995. Production of superoxide radicals in glyoxysomal membranes from castor bean endosperm. J. Plant Physiol. 146:283-287.

Wolins N.E., Donaldson R.P. 1994. Specific binding of the peroxisomal protein targeting sequence to glyoxysomal membranes. J. Biol. Chem. 269: 1149-1153.

Donaldson R.P., Luster D.G. 1991. Multiple forms of plant cytochromes P-450. Plant Physiol. 96: 669-674.

Alani A.A., Luster D.G., Donaldson, R.P. 1991. Development of ER and glyoxysomal membrane redox activities during castor bean germination. Plant Physiol. 94: 1842-1848.

Lyons H.T., Kharroubi A., Wolins N., Tenner S., Chanderbhan R.F., Fiskum G., Donaldson R.P. 1991. Elevated cholesterol and decreased sterol carrier protein-2 in peroxisomes from AS-30D hepatoma compared to normal rat liver. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 285: 238-245.

Bowditch M.I., Donaldson R.P. 1990. Ascorbate free radical reduction by glyoxysomal membranes. Plant Physiol 94; 531-537.

Mangurian L.P., R.P. Donaldson. 1989 Development of peroxisomal beta-oxidation enzymes in brown adipose tissue of perinatal rabbits. Biology of the Neonate 57: 349-357.

Classes Taught

BISC 1111 - Introductory Biology: Cell and Molecules
BISC 2305 - Plant biology
BISC 2538 - Biology of Proteins
BISC 4180 - Undergraduate Research Semina