James A. Thomson, PhD
Professor, Cell & Regenerative Biology
Morgridge Institute for Research
330 N. Orchard
In the early 1990s, my lab derived ES cells from an Old World monkey (the rhesus macaque) and a New World monkey (the common marmoset), work that led to derivation of human ES cells in 1998. Much of my lab’s research after that derivation was dedicated to establishing human ES cells as an accepted, practical model system. To that end, we developed defined culture conditions, methods for genetic manipulation, and approaches for the in vitro differentiation of human ES cells to key lineages of clinical importance including hematopoietic, neural, cardiac, and placental tissues. More recently, in 2007, my laboratory described the isolation of human induced pluripotent (iPS cells) cells with the basic properties of human ES cells but derived from somatic cells.
My research now focuses on understanding how a cell can maintain or change identity, how a cell chooses between self-renewal and the initial decision to differentiate, and how a differentiated cell with limited developmental potential can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent cell.
My current research interests include:
- Examining the transcriptional networks in ES cells that mediate self-renewal and commitment to each of the basic lineages of the early embryo.
- Mapping the epigenome of ES cells and their early-differentiated derivatives as a participant in the San Diego Epigenome Center.
- Improving methods for generating human iPS cells, and correcting genetic defects in iPS cells generated from patients with degenerative retinal disease
- Developing new strategies to convert human pluripotent stem and somatic cells into hematopoietic, vascular, and cardiac progenitor cells.
- Understanding clocking mechanisms that control developmental rates.
Honors & Awards
- Earned the McEwen Award for Innovation from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) (2013)
- Co-recipient of King Faisal International Prize in Medicine, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2011)
- Co-recipient of Albany Medical Center Prize (2011)
- Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2008)
- Co-recipient of the 2008 Meira and Shaul G. Massry Prize for the derivation of human ES and iPS cells (2008)
- McIntosh BE, Brown ME, Duffin BM, Maufort JP, Vereide DT, Slukvin II, Thomson JA. “Non-irradiated NOD,B6.SCID Il2rγ-/- KitW41/W41 (NBSGW) Mice Support Multi-lineage Engraftment of Human Hematopoietic Cells.” Stem Cell Reports, 2015 Feb 10; 4(2): 171-180. PMCID: PMC4325197.
- Roadmap Epigenomics Consortium, Kundaje A, Meuleman W, Ernst J, Bilenky M, et al. “Integrative analysis of 111 reference human epigenomes.” Nature, 2015 Feb 19;518(7539):317-30. PMID: 25693563.
- Hou Z, Meyer S, Propson NE, Nie J, Jiang P, Stewart R, Thomson JA. “Characterization and target identification of a DNA aptamer that labels pluripotent stem cells.” Cell Research, 2015 Mar;25(3):390-3. PMCID: PMC4349250.
- Hou Z, Jiang P, Swanson S, Elwell A, Nguyen BK, Bolin J, Stewart R, Thomson JA. “A cost effective RNA sequencing protocol for large-scale gene expression studies.” Scientific Reports, 2015 Apr 1;5:9570. PMCID: PMC4381617
- Leng N, Li Y, McIntosh BE, Nguyen BK, Duffin B, Tian S, Thomson JA, Dewey C, Stewart R, Kendziorski C. “EBSeq-HMM: A Bayesian approach for identifying gene-expression changes in ordered RNA-seq experiments.” Bioinformatics, 2015 Apr 5. PMID: 25847007.