PHILIP THOMAS, Ph.D.

Advisor

Dr. Thomas is the Ruth S. Harrell Professor of Medical Research in the Department of Physiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Since his arrival in Dallas in 1993, after a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he and his group have built on a thirty-five year-long interest in the molecular basis of disease and the translation of this knowledge to patients. This includes contributions to the understanding of genetic diseases owing to protein misfolding and basic knowledge of quality control systems relevant to these pathologies. At Hopkins, he initiated projects into elucidating the molecular pathology of cystic fibrosis, under the umbrella of the CF center. This work provided one of the first examples of protein misfolding as a basis of human disease, along with the suggestion that small molecule ligands might be used to counteract the effects of the most common CF-causing mutation, F508del. Dr Thomas was awarded the JHU Young Investigators award in 1992 for this early work. At UT Southwestern, Thomas and his collaborators defined the details of F508del misfolding and discovered the two-step mechanism that has supported the recent development of effective small molecule therapies that correct the F508del mutant CFTR and restore function. This work was previously recognized by an NIH MERIT award and more recently by the Paul di Sant’Agnese Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award. More recently, the group has led an effort to extend this work to rarer CF causing mutations and their responses to extant drugs, thereby providing “theratype” information for scores of genotypes composed of insufficient numbers to support clinical development. Many of Dr Thomas’ former trainees remain active in CF either as faculty or in commercial efforts to develop better treatments for CF. In addition to his position at UT Southwestern, Dr. Thomas is the senior Principal Scientist at the CFF Laboratory in Lexington Massachusetts and a co-founder of Reata Pharmaceuticals and ReCode Therapeutics, two companies actively translating basic work into new therapies.