James A. Thomson

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology


My research 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; and understanding clocking mechanisms that control developmental rates.