James A. Thomson

James Thomson
Director of Regenerative Biology, Morgridge Institute for Research / Professor of Cell and Regenerative Biology (UW) / Professor, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology - University of California, Santa Barbara


Morgridge Institute for Research / Cell and Regenerative Biology

Research Description: 

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., 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:

  • Understanding clocking mechanisms that control developmental rates.
  • Studying differentiation of vascular progenitors for transplantation therapies
  • Examining the transcriptional networks in ES cells that mediate self-renewal and commitment to each of the basic lineages of the early embryo.
  • Developing new strategies to convert human pluripotent stem and somatic cells into hematopoietic, vascular, and cardiac progenitor cells. 

Selected References: 

  • Zhang J, Schwartz MP, Hou Z, Yongsheng B, Ardalani H, Swanson S, Steill J, Ruotti V, Elwell A, Nguyen BK, Bolin J, Stewart R, Thomson JA, Murphy WL. “A genome-wide analysis of human pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells in synthetic hydrogels or standard 2D and 3D culture platforms.” Stem Cell Reports. 2017 Mar 10. pii: S2213-6711(17)30081-4. PMID: 28343999.
  • Barry C, Schmitz MT, Jiang P, Schwartz MP, Duffin BM, Swanson S, Bacher R, Bolin JM, Elwell AL, McIntosh BE, Stewart R, Thomson JA. “Species-specific developmental timing is maintained by pluripotent stem cells ex utero.” Dev Biol. 2017 Feb 6. pii: S0012-1606(16)30812-0. PMID: 28179190.
  • Eguchi A, Wleklinski MJ, Spurgat MC, Heiderscheit EA, Kropornicka AS, Vu CK, Bhimsaria D, Swanson SA, Stewart R, Kamp TJ. Slukvin Igor, Thomson JA, Dutton JR, Ansari A. “Reprogramming cell fate with a genome-scale library of artificial transcription factors.” PNAS. 2016 Dec 20; 113(51):E8257-E8266. PMCID: PMC5187731.
  • Erwin SG, Bhimsaria D, Rodriguez-Martinez JA, Grieshop MP, Swanson SA, Stewart R, Thomson JA, , Ramanathan P, Ansari AZ. “COSMIC-seq analysis reveals genome-wide binding of polyamides to clustered sites in diverse chromatin states.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2016 Nov 22;113(47):E7418-E7427. PMCID: PMC5127382.
  • Baik J, Magli A, Tahara N, Swanson S, Koyano-Nakagawa N, Borges L, Stewart R, Garry D, Kawakami Y, Thomson JA, , Perlingeiro R. “Endoglin Integrates BMP and Wnt Signaling to Induce Hematopoiesis through JDP2.” Nat Commun. 2016 Oct 7;7:13101. PMCID: PMC5059784.


Not Applicable