Ronald Abercrombie, PhD

Professor Emeritus

Emory University School of Medicine

Office: 615 Michael Street


Additional Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Department of Physiology

615 Michael Street
600 Whitehead Bldg

Atlanta, GA 30322


Education: Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1976


By harnessing energy to maintain cytoplasmic concentrations different from the surrounding medium, a cell distinguishes itself from its inanimate environment; this is the first requirement for life. Calcium was one of the life distinguishing elements selected by ancient living organisms. Like sodium, another such element, calcium within a living cell is maintained at much lower concentrations than outside the cell. While the sodium concentration gradient is used for electrical signaling and as an energy source for transport of other nutrients across the cell membrane, the calcium concentration gradient is used almost exclusively for chemical signaling within the cell. For example, a rise in calcium ion concentration triggers the neuron to release neurotransmitter from its synaptic terminal or the muscle cell to contract. Because calcium controls so much of the physiological behavior of cells, it is necessary to understand how its intracellular concentration is maintained in space and time. The research in our laboratory is directed toward understanding the processes that influence the movements of calcium within cells and the spatial and temporal gradients of intracellular free calcium that such movements generate. 

Previous support:


Former graduate students: 

Karen M. Wells, Ph.D., July, 1997."Characterization of active Ca uptake and its modulation by luminal Ca2+ in neuronal endoplasmic reticulum" 

James E. Moore, Ph.D., September, 1994. "Intracellular calcium regulation in neurons" 

Aura J. R. Perez-Hernandez, M.S., January,1987. "Calcium buffering in isolated Myxicola axoplasm in the absence of any metabolizable substrate and its simulation with a computer model" 


Selected Publications: 

Al-Baldawi, N. F. and R. F. Abercrombie (1992). Cytoplasmic hydrogen ion diffusion coefficient. Biophys. J. 61:1470-1479. 

Al-Baldawi, N.F., J.E. Moore and R. F. Abercrombie (1993). Calcium accumulation by organelles within Myxicola axoplasm. J. Physiol. (London) 461:633-646. 

Abercrombie, R.F. (1994). Cross-talk between membranes. Biophysical J 67: 6-7. 

Al-Baldawi, N.F. and R.F. Abercrombie (1995). Cytoplasmic calcium buffer capacity determined with Nitr-5 and DM-nitrophen. Cell Calcium 17: 417-429. 

Al-Baldawi, N.F. and R. F.Abercrombie (1995). Calcium diffusion coefficient in Myxicola axoplasm. Cell Calcium 17: 430-438. 

Wells, K.M. and R.F. Abercrombie (1998). Luminal Ca2+ protects against thapsigargin inhibition in neuronal endoplasmic reticulum. J. Biol. Chem. 273: 5020-5025. 

Meng, X.-J., R.T. Timmer, R.B. Gunn, and R. F. Abercrombie (2000). Separate entry pathways for phosphate and oxalate in rat brain microsomes. Am. J. Physiol. 278:C1183-90. 

Kaftan, E.J., Tao Xu, R.F. Abercrombie, and B. Hille (2000). Mitochondria shape cytosolic calcium oscillations and modulate exocytosis. J. Biol. Chem. 275:25465-25470.