The Thomas laboratory studies the regulation of adhesive proteins. Our work includes both basic science and translational work in engineered materials. While we study protein allostery in general, we are particularly interested in adhesion proteins that are regulated by mechanical forces that are exerted from external sources such as fluid flow or from internal sources such as cytoskeletal tension between cellular adhesion sites. We study the interface between mechanics and chemistry to understand how these mechanical forces regulate molecular structure and function. Much of our work has been on "catch bonds" that are activated rather than torn apart by tensile mechanical force. In particular, we study mechanical regulation of bacterial biofilms (important in infectious diseases) and of thrombosis (critical in both bleeding disorders and heart attacks and strokes). Finally, we are interested in engineering novel bio-inspired "smart" adhesives that can be regulated with mechanical force or other external cues for technologies ranging from the molecular (biosensing, self-assembly and drug delivery technologies) to the macroscale (microrobotic adhesives).
Copyright © 2003-2014 Molecular & Cellular Biology Program, University of Washington
Fred Hutch | University of Washington
Institute for Systems Biology (ISB)| Center for Infectious Disease Research