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Thomas S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of California San Diego (UCSD)


Cell biology, pharmacology, cell migration, GPCR signaling and function


My name is Tom and I graduated with my PhD from University of California San Diego (UCSD) in the lab of Dr. Tracy Handel in 2022. I studied chemokine receptors, a class of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), that are primarily expressed on immune cells, which through complex signaling mechanisms help drive the migration of immune cells to sites of inflammation. Due to their role in inflammation these receptors are involved in a wide range of diseases, however there are essentially no therapeutics in existence that target these receptors for treatment of inflammatory conditions. I focused on understanding the detailed mechanisms and fundamental biology that control the function of these receptors so that we can ideally find ways to use these receptors as a target to treat disease. Currently, I am employed as a Scientist at a pharmaceutical company in San Diego where we research and develop antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates (AOC) targeting rare diseases causes by some genomic or transcriptomic origin. On a personal level, my interests include running, hiking, camping, snowboarding, paddle boarding, the outdoors in general, traveling, cooking, reading, music, and TV/film. I am originally from Cleveland, but have lived in Columbus, Denver, and San Diego. In my free time I like to spend time with my wife and friends doing all the great things that San Diego and southern California have to offer.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Concepts of cell migration: how to improve the current understanding of chemotaxis

Cell migration has been studied extensively, but is such a complex topic that there are still many holes in what we know. There are also a variety of methods that have been used to study chemotaxis over the years in order to to better understand migratory functions. A detailed look into what is currently known, the methods currently available, what is lacking in our current understanding, and what can be done to fill this gap in the current understanding of chemotaxis. The project can include putting together a review of current literature topics, and methods surrounding cell migration and chemotaxis. The project can then also involve conceptualizing a method or system to help better study chemotaxis in vivo or in vitro.

Coding skills

R (beginner).

Teaching experience

My teaching experience includes mentoring undergraduate student researchers throughout my PhD, as well as experience as a Teaching Assistant for the Salk Mobile Science Lab teaching middle school aged kids (grade 6th-8th). My responsibilities mentoring undergraduate researchers involved instructing students on lab protocols/methods and general instruction about their research topic. As a TA for the Salk Mobile Science Lab, I would teach the kids all about the biology and importance of DNA. I would lead lessons which consisted of a lecture/presentation about our topic followed by a hands-on activity to further enforce the topics we were presenting.


Work experience

NovelMed Therapeutics (2013 - 2014)
Research Associate
University of Colorado - Anschutz Medical Campus (2015 - 2017)
Professional Research Assistant
Avidity Biosciences (2022 - Current)


Ohio State University, Columbus
BS Bachelor of Science (2012)
Biological Sciences
University of California San Diego (UCSD)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2022)
Biomedical Sciences

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