Jessica H Thomas, Ph.D.
My studies focus on biomedical research, specifically how cells fuse in the developing nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).
Cell-cell fusion is a developmental process during which individual cells merge together by fusing their plasma membranes and forming a shared cytoplasm. The result is a multinucleated cell, which is also known as a syncytium. Cell fusion is an essential process for fertilization to occur and to create, pattern, and maintain tissues such as skeletal muscle, bone, placenta, and the vertebrate eye lens. In addition, cell fusion is shown to be involved in insect wound healing and fungal colony formation as well as cancer and stem cell biology (Shinn-Thomas and Mohler, 2011). The only known proteins not of viral origin, EFF-1 and AFF-1 (a.k.a C. elegans fusion family (ceFF)), responsible for fusing cells have been identified in C. elegans (Mohler et al., 2002; Sapir et al., 2007). I investigate the molecular and cellular regulation of EFF-1 and AFF-1 in cells fated to fuse in C. elegans using a variety of genetic, molecular, cellular, and microscopy techniques in order to further elucidate a common cell-cell fusion mechanism.
Opportunities for Student Research and Collaboration
Research with me usually involves working on some aspect of examining how cells fuse in C. elegans (a.k.a. “worms”). However, I am also interested in and welcoming of collaborative research with other professors and their research. After we discuss your interests, my interests, and the unanswered questions in which we are both interested, we will pick a problem for you to tackle, which very well may (and hopefully) lead to additional interesting questions. Please visit the link to my lab web site to learn more about ongoing and potential research projects in my lab.
B.S. in Biology, Union College
Ph.D. in Biomedical Science-Genetics and Developmental Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center
BIO 232 Research Methods II
BIO 321 Genetics (lecture and lab)
BIO 322 Developmental Biology (lecture and lab)
BIO 327 Cell Biology (lab)
BIO 420 Special Topics in Stem Cells
BIO/ANB/NEU/PSB 450 Senior Research
BIO 453 Molecular Biology (lecture and lab)
BIO/NEU/PSB 495 Senior Seminar: Stem Cell Biology
BIO/ANB/NEU/NTR/PSB 495 Senior Seminar: Genetic Engineering
UCC 101 First Year Seminar
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