Joshua Tompkins, Ph.D., is an assistant research professor at City of Hope’s Department of Diabetes Complications and Metabolism. His research focuses on DNA repair, stem cell biology and differentiation and cell replacement-based regenerative medicine.
Prior to that, Dr. Tompkins was the recipient of a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine post doctoral fellowship and mentored in the laboratory of Arthur Riggs, Ph.D. There, he engaged in collaborative efforts and critical studies that established scalable expansion of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). In particular, he focused on understanding the epigenomic stability of hESCs towards streamlined stem cell production for quality control mechanisms, and for basic and translational research purposes. During this time, Dr. Tompkins also taught genetics and cellular & molecular biology at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, promoting student interest biomedical life sciences including those that chose to start their careers at City of Hope.
Dr. Tompkins received his Ph.D. from Washington State University, where he was also an Achievement Reward for College Scientists (ARCS) Fellow in its School of Molecular Biosciences and Center for Reproductive Biology. His doctoral work focused on developmental biology, particularly understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in DNA double-strand break repair in cancer and reproductive cells.
Beca de investigación
Tremendous progress emanates from the field of stem cell biology. We understand that virtually all cells within an individual have an identical genomic sequence, yet the cell-specific interpretations of this code are essentially infinite and provide a basis for cellular identity and function. Indeed, recent technological advances in genomic and epigenomic sequencing and associated informatics tools have served to develop a stronger understanding into the previously enigmatic nature of transitioning cell types through development and differentiation. In fact, we have just finished the first purified multi-stage epigenomic map of human cardiomyocyte differentiation.
Millions of epigenetic switches have been identified and yet we recognize that even a single epigenetic change at a critical genomic location can have profound consequences within a cell, and over time, across populations. Therefore, with the advent of custom site-specific DNA binding proteins (CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENs), and advanced understanding in chromatin architecture and DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair, it is now possible to amend the genetic, and very recently, epigenetic code with a precision that was previously only imaginable. Our research bridges pluripotent cell biology, cellular differentiation, DNA DSB repair, epigenetic manipulation, and genome-wide informatics and suggests 1) that manipulating the epigenome is possible and 2) that stem cell lines can be established with defined lineage dispositions. Such work allows us to track induced epigenetic changes through differentiation and facilitates further exploration of transcriptional DNA methylation “memories” we’ve recently identified during human cardiomyocyte cell fate commitment. In the longer term, this will aid the exploration of the intricacy and utility of epigenetically engineering cell fate for tissue regeneration.
In addition to our research in controlling cellular identify for cell replacement based regenerative medicine, we also maintain several on campus collaborations with researchers spanning developmental biology, diabetes epidemiology, and cancer.