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Robert J Tomko Jr. Ph.D.

Robert J Tomko Jr. Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences
(850) 645-1482
Main Campus


Dr. Tomko completed his graduate studies in pharmacology at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine’s Drug Discovery Institute, where he became familiar with modern drug discovery and development. His thesis work probing the regulation of a short-lived protein sparked his interest in the cell’s machinery to recycle damaged or unneeded proteins. To pursue this interest, he moved to Yale University, where he was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. As a postdoctoral fellow, Robert made several seminal discoveries regarding the assembly of the proteasome, a large, multisubunit protease complex that executes most of the cell’s regulatory and quality control protein degradation. In 2015, Dr. Tomko joined the faculty of Biomedical Sciences at FSU, where his group studies how cells build, maintain, and utilize the proteasome in normal and disease states. His laboratory works on the scale of individual proteins up to whole cells, and integrates approaches spanning biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, proteomics, biophysics, and pharmacology. Ultimately, his group aims to utilize the information gained from these basic studies of the proteasome to exploit its assembly and function for therapeutic benefit in human diseases.

Tomko Lab Webpage


Postdoctoral Research, Yale University, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
Ph.D., Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
B.S., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Lebanon Valley College


2016 - Present, Florida State University College of Medicine Research Advisory Committee
2016 - Present, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences Promotion and Tenure Committee
2015 - Present, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences Faculty Search Committee
2015 - Present, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences Postdoctoral Career and Mentoring Committee
2015 - 2016, 2017 - Present Dept. of Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee
2015 - 2016, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences Admissions Committee


First-Year Assistant Professor Award, 2015
Finalist, Earl Stadtman Symposium on Molecular Biology and Biochemistry NIH, Bethesda MD Jan 6-8, 2014.
Nominee, Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, 2013.
American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2010-2013
James Hudson Brown – Alexander B. Coxe Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Medical Sciences, 2009-2010
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Most Well-Rounded Graduate Student Award, 2007.
American Chemical Society Outstanding Chemistry Major Award, 2002.
Southeastern PA Section American Chemical Society Award, 2002.
American Chemical Society Polymer Education Committee Award for Outstanding Performance in Organic Chemistry, 2001.


2015 - Present, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
2006 - Present, American Association for Cancer Research
2005 - Present, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Research Focus

Regulation of proteasome assembly and function in health and disease; design principles governing assembly of multiprotein complexes


1. Nemec, A. A.†, Howell, L. A. †, Peterson, A. K., Murray, M. A., and Tomko, R. J. Jr. Autophagic clearance of proteasomes in yeast requires the conserved sorting nexin Snx4. J Biol. Chem. 2017 (Epub ahead of print). PMID: 29109144
†Equal contributions

2. Tomko, R. J. Jr. Proteasomes, Caught In The Act. Cell Research. 27:307-308, 2017.

3. Howell, L. A., Tomko, R. J. Jr.* and Kusmierczyk, A. R. Putting it all together: intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms governing proteasome biogenesis. Frontiers in Biology. 12: 19-48, 2017.

4. Tomko, Jr., R.J.,* Taylor, D.W., Chen, Z.A., Wang, H.W., Rappsilber, J., and Hochstrasser, M. A Single Alpha Helix Drives Largescale Remodeling of the Proteasome Lid and Completion of Regulatory Particle Assembly. Cell. 163: 432-444.
*Corresponding Author

5. Li, Y., Tomko, Jr., R.J., and Hochstrasser, M. Proteasomes: Isolation and activity assays. Curr. Protoc. Cell Biol. 67:3.43.1-

6. Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Hochstrasser, M. The Intrinsically Disordered Sem1 Protein Functions as a Molecular Tether During Proteasome Lid Biogenesis. Molecular Cell. 53: 433–443, 2014.

7. Sá-Moura, B., Funakoshi, M., Tomko, R. J. Jr., Dohmen, J., Wu, Z., Peng, J., and Hochstrasser, M. A Conserved Protein with AN1 Zinc-finger and Ubiquitin-like Domains Modulates Cdc48 (p97) Function in the Ubiquitin-Proteasome Pathway. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 288: 33682-96, 2013.

8. Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Hochstrasser, M. Molecular Architecture and Assembly of the Eukaryotic Proteasome. Annual Review of Biochemistry. 82: 415-45, 2013.

9. Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Hochstrasser, M. Incorporation of the Rpn12 Subunit Couples Completion of Proteasome Regulatory Particle Lid Assembly to Lid-Base Joining. Molecular Cell. 44: 907-917, 2011.

10. Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Hochstrasser, M. Order of the proteasomal ATPases and eukaryotic proteasome assembly. Cell Biochemistry & Biophysics. 60: 13-20, 2011.

11. Heinemann, I., Randau, L., Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Söll, D. 3’-5’ tRNAHis guanylyltransferase in bacteria. FEBS Letters. 584: 3567-3572, 2010.

12. Tomko, R. J. Jr., Funakoshi, M., Schneider, K., Wang, J., and Hochstrasser, M. Heterohexameric ring arrangement of the eukaryotic proteasomal ATPases: implications for proteasome structure and assembly. Molecular Cell. 38: 393-403, 2010.
*Featured in: Mol. Cell. 2010; 38: 319-20.
*Recommended by Faculty of 1000

13. Wang, P., Zou, F., Zhang, X., Tomko, R. J. Jr., Lazo, J. S., Wang, Z., Zhang, L., and Yu, J. MicroRNA-21 modulates G2/M checkpoint and cell cycle progression through Cdc25A. Cancer Research. 69: 8157-65, 2009.

14. Funakoshi, M., Tomko, R. J. Jr., Kobyashi, H., and Hochstrasser, M. Multiple assembly chaperones govern biogenesis of the proteasome regulatory particle base. Cell. 137: 887-899, 2009.
*Featured in: Cell. 2009; 138:25-8.
*Featured in: Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 2009; 10:442-3.
*Featured in: Biopolymers. 9: iii, 2009.
*Recommended by Faculty of 1000

15. Tomko, R. J. Jr., Azang-Njaah, N. N., and Lazo, J. S. Nitrosative stress suppresses checkpoint activation after DNA synthesis inhibition. Cell Cycle. 8: 299-305, 2009.

16. Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Lazo, J. S. Multimodal control of Cdc25A by nitrosative stress. Cancer Research. 68: 7457-7465, 2008.

17. Queiroz de Oliveira, P. E., Tomko, R. J. Jr., and Lazo, J. S. Is a step backwards in S-phase-targeted chemotherapy a step forward? Molecular Interventions. 8: 137-40, 2008.
*Cover article

18. Brisson, M., Foster, C., Wipf, P., Joo, B., Tomko, R. J. Jr., Nguyen, T., and Lazo, J. S. Independent mechanistic inhibition of Cdc25 phosphatases by a natural product caulibugulone. Molecular Pharmacology. 71: 184-92, 2007.

19. Tomko, R. J. Jr., Bansal, P., and Lazo, J. S. Airing out an antioxidant role for the tumor suppressor p53. Molecular Interventions. 6: 23-25, 2006.

20. Aponick, A., Buzdygon, R. S., Tomko, R. J. Jr., Fazal, A. N., Shughart, E. L., McMaster, D. M., Meyers, M. C., Pitcock, W. H. Jr., and Wigal, C. T. Regioselective organocadmium alkylations of substituted quinones. Journal of Organic Chemistry. 67: 242-244, 2002.