News and Events

November 2023

Gareth and Natasha both gave talks at Temple’s Department of Neural Sciences second annual research day and Natasha was awarded a(nother..!) poster prize. There were several great presentations that day, including from Keynote Speaker Dr Rene Hen, ‘Rising Star’ Dr. Victoria Abraira and incoming Director of Temple’s Center for Substance Abuse Research Dr Anjali Rajadhyaksha.

Also, Gareth and Brittany both attended the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC, where Brittany gave her first public presentation. Another highlight was the Presidential lecture by Gareth’s postdoctoral advisor Dr Rick Huganir – an elegant summary of his really impressive (and still groundbreaking) research. The dinner after Rick’s lecture was great, too, and a really nice opportunity to reconnect with former labmates!

September 2023

Gareth attended and spoke at the Biochemical Society conference on Protein Lipidation, held in Liverpool, UK. It was great to catch up with old friends and colleagues and to make new connections after Covid-enforced postponements of that meeting!

Many congratulations to Natasha who, for the second year in a row, was awarded a poster prize at Temple’s annual Dawn Marks Research Day! The lab celebrated at Middle Child Clubhouse in Fishtown.

June 2023

Congratulations to Sely, whose first author paper on the kinase JAK1 was just published by Journal of Biological Chemistry. Her work was selected as an Editors’ Pick, and included a personal profile. Many thanks also to Drs Roland Dunbrack and Bulat Faesov, our colleagues at Fox Chase Cancer Center whose molecular modeling of JAK1 structures really enhanced this work!

May 2023

We celebrated Xiaotian receiving the joint-top score for her Independent Research Proposal – congratulations Xiaotian and many thanks to our colleague Gianluca Gallo for all his efforts as Xiaotian’s facilitator!

Gareth and Xiaotian also really enjoyed attending the Gordon Research Conference on Neurotrophic Mechanisms, held in Newport, Rhode Island. Gareth gave a talk and Xiaotian presented a poster, both of which stimulated lots of interesting discussion (and many well-deserved compliments for Xiaotian – next stop, Harvard…!).

November 2022

Gareth, Natasha and Xiaotian attend the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego (Xiaotian’s first conference and the lab’s first time attending the SfN meeting since 2019). We even found time for a quick hike at Torrey Pines State Park.

Also, congratulations (again…) to Natasha Hesketh, who was awarded 1st prize for her (updated…) poster at the inaugural Department of Neural Sciences Research Day!

August 2022

Congratulations to Natasha Hesketh, who was awarded 2nd prize for her poster at Temple’s annual Dawn Marks Research Day!

June 2022

Gareth and Natasha attend the first in-person meeting in over two years, the Gordon Research Conference on Cell Biology of the Neuron. It was great to catch up with people again and make new connections. Natasha also attended the associated Gordon Research Seminar and found it very worthwhile

May 2022

Graduate student Xiaotian Zhang joins the lab after a very successful rotation. Welcome Xiaotian! Sadly, though, we say goodbye to Heykyeong Jeong, who accepted a Scientific Investigator position at GlaxoSmithKline. We will miss you, Heykyeong!. Also, Natasha Hesketh received the highest score in her PhD and MD/PhD class for her Independent Research Proposal (IRP). Sadly, Natasha has yet to be pictured with the IRP Cup that she was awarded…

March 2022

We are very happy that work from Jingwen, Sabrina and several other members of the Thomas and Gallo labs was published in Science Signaling. With help from co-author and Senior Arts Correspondent Natasha Hesketh, one of Jingwen’s images was also selected for the journal cover. Congratulations to all!

August 2021

We are sorry to say goodbye to Jingwen Niu, who just accepted a position at Alphathera, an exciting company linked to the University of Pennsylvania. Good luck, Jingwen!

June 2021

We congratulate, but will miss, Luiselys (Sely) Hernandez, who recently accepted an offer to join the MD/PhD program at UPenn. We wish Sely every success and know she will be a great physician-scientist. You can read about some of Sely’s work in the Thomas lab here and here.

We were also glad to hear that our collaborative work with Yuanquan Song at CHOP/UPenn was published in Nature Communications. Congratulations to Yuanquan and all other authors!

Finally this month, we were very happy to receive additional funding from NINDS to continue and expand our work on roles of palmitoylation in axon degeneration.

May 2021

Natasha Hesketh, a Temple Ph.D student, will join the lab after a very successful rotation. Welcome, Natasha!

January 2021

Glad to see that our collaborative work with Rebeca Mejias, Tao Wong and others was published.  This paper describes the effects of knocking out the Zdhhc15 gene in mice, mutations in which can cause Intellectual Disability in human patients. Congratulations to Rebeca, Tao and all other authors!

November 2020

Plenty to report this month – first the publication of a paper by Kaitlin, focusing on retrograde signaling in Dorsal Root Ganglion neurons. You can read Kaitlin’s paper here, which was also selected as an Editors’ pick. Congratulations, Kaitlin!

Second, another publication by Shaun, with important contributions from Sely and Santi, which you can read here. This work was our first foray into regulation of the Axon Initial Segment by palmitoylation. Congratulations to all the Thomas lab members involved, and we also really appreciate the important contributions from our collaborators Tasso Tzingounis, Heun Soh and Randy Walikonis at UConn for this study.

And finally, this paper from Jingwen, Shaun and Heykyeong, which also featured important contributions from the labs of Yishi Jin, Michael Hayden, George Smith, and our former colleague here at Temple/Shriners,  Yang Hu. This study reveals that a common enzyme, ZDHHC17, palmitoylates proteins that govern the survival of neuronal cell bodies and distal axons after nerve injury. This coupled control mechanism ensures that responses to axonal damage are appropriately coordinated in these two distinct locations.

September 2019

Big congratulations to Shaun Sanders, who just accepted an offer to start her own lab at the University of Guelph. Shaun becomes the second Thomas lab postdoc to obtain their own independent faculty position – great job Shaun!

August 2019

Gareth spoke at the International Society for Neurochemistry meeting in Montreal, in a session organized by Shernaz Bamji. Paul Jenkins and Elva Diaz were the other speakers in a very interesting session.

July 2019

Luiselys (Sely) Hernandez, who worked in the lab during her very successful co-op placement in 2017-18, rejoined us as a Research Assistant. Welcome back, Sely!

Also this month, Gareth spoke at the FASEB conference on protein lipidation, this time in a new venue in upstate New York.

March 2019

Congratulations to Shaun, whose work on roles of palmitoylation in mTOR signaling was just accepted for publication. You can read Shaun’s work here.

Our work on models of glaucoma was just selected for funding by the BrightFocus Foundation, a major philanthropic organization committed to advancing understanding of, and treatments for, neurodegeneration. We are very grateful to the BrightFocus donors for their support.

February 2019

Congratulations, Dale, whose paper on high throughput screening to identify compounds that modulate DLK palmitoylation was just accepted for publication. You can read Dale’s work here. This study was a collaboration with groups at Temple University’s Moulder Center for Drug Discovery and Fox Chase Cancer Center’s High Throughput Screening Resource. As a nice coincidence the lab was also awarded a grant from NEI to follow up Dale’s work, in collaboration with Dr. Don Zack’s lab at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University Medical School.

September 2018

A very good month for Shaun Sanders, who was awarded a Travel Bursary to attend the Biochemical Society meeting on S-acylation in Brighton in the United Kingdom. Shaun was not only then invited to give a short talk at the meeting, but won the prize for best Postdoctoral poster. Many congratulations, Shaun!

August 2018

Heykyeong Jeong joins the lab as a senior postdoctoral Fellow after initial postdoctoral work in the lab of Dr. Shin Kang, also at Temple/Shriners. Welcome Heykyeong!

January 2018

Many congratulations to Dale, who just accepted a faculty position in the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo. Dale is the first Thomas lab member to start his own lab and we wish him every success!

November 2017

Jingwen gave a great invited short talk on her work as part of the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, DC. Well done, Jingwen!

July 2017

Both Gareth and Dale spoke at the FASEB Conference on Protein Lipidation. There was good lab representation at this very enjoyable conference, which Shaun also attended.

June 2017

Congratulations, Jingwen, who was an invited speaker at the Gordon Conference on ‘Neurotrophic Factors’ and by all accounts did a great job!

February 2017

Congratulations Shaun, who was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Brody Family Medical Trust. You can read the official announcement of Shaun’s award here. The lab went out to celebrate at Sate Kampar (Malaysian restaurant in South Philly – highly recommended!).

December 2016

Congratulations to Sabrina whose review on axonal palmitoylation was just accepted for publication in the Journal of Neuroscience Research. You can read Sabrina’s review here. An image of Sabrina’s microfluidic neuronal cultures was also selected for the front cover of the journal.

November 2016

Dale Martin joins the lab as a senior Postdoctoral Fellow following graduate studies with Luc Berthiamue and initial postodoctoral work with Michael Hayden. Welcome, Dale!

September 2016

Congratulations, Sabrina, who was awarded the Poster Prize at Temple’s Translational Science Day for a second time! Great job, Sabrina!

The lab was awarded a Developmental Grant from Shriners Hospitals to use novel screening methods to identify a new class of neuroprotective compounds. This is our first foray into translational research and would not have been possible without great collaborators at Temple’s Moulder Center for Drug Discovery and the Fox Chase Cancer Center.

A busy month – Shaun Sanders joins the lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow following very successful graduate research with Michael Hayden, a world leader in the field of Huntington Disease.

May 2016

Congratulations, Audrey, whose review on palmitoylation-dependent regulation or protein kinase signaling was just published. You can read her review here.

February 2016

Jingwen Niu joins the lab after initial postdoctoral work at UPenn. Welcome, Jingwen!

December 2015

Congratulations, Sabrina, whose work on DLK palmitoylation in nerve injury signaling was just accepted for publication in PNAS. You can read the final version of Sabrina’s paper here.

Francesca DeSimone joins the lab after very successful Ph.D. studies here at Temple University School of Medicine and at the University of Salerno, Italy. Welcome, Francesca!

September 2015

Following recent grant awards (and as an appreciation of the hard work that led to them) the Lab took a celebratory trip to US Open tennis.20150911_122756

May 2015

Congratulations, Dr. Collura! Kaitlin gave a great seminar as part of her thesis defense, and the lab celebrated in style with her family. We’ll miss you, Kaitlin, but wish you the best of luck as you return to Medical School.

Kaitlin thesis defense

April 2015

Congratulations, Joju, whose work on the regulation of dendritic spines by palmitoylated LIMK1 was just published in eLife.

September 2014

Gareth, Sabrina and Kaitlin traveled to Cold Spring Harbor for the conference on “Axon Guidance, Synapse Formation and Regeneration”.  Sabrina was an invited speaker and Kaitlin received a Travel Award from Temple Medical School to attend the meeting.


June 2014

Congratulations, Kaitlin, who was awarded a Prize for her poster at Temple’s annual Dawn Marks Research Day.

January 2014

Our collaborative work with Isabelle Maystadt on RSK2 and Coffin-Lowry Syndrome was just published.

November 2013

Gareth’s article about the evolution of palmitoylation-dependent regulation, co-written with Takashi Hayashi, was just published in Bioessays, accompanied by a Highlights article. 

February 2013

Gareth’s review on palmitoylation-dependent regulation of glutamate receptors, co-written with Rick Huganir, was just published.

September 2012

Congratulations to Sabrina, who was awarded the Postdoctoral Prize for her work at Temple’s First Annual Biomedical Research Day Symposium, and to Santi, who won first prize for his talk as part of Temple’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program.IMAG0223