James A. Wilkins


Professional Research Chemist




Ph.D. Biochemistry 1979 University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
B.Sc. Biology 1974 University of Texas, Austin, TX

Work History

2015-Present: Professional Research Chemist, Mass Spectrometry Facility, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCSF, CA
2009-2015: Chief Technology Officer, Sensorin, Inc., Burlingame, CA
2005-2009: Director, Technology Assessment and Transfer, Genentech, Inc., So SF, CA
2001—2005: Research Scientist / Lecturer, Yale University, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, New Haven, CT

Research Interests

My research is currently focused on discovery and characterization of proteins and peptides whose cellular functions are critically dependent on a posttranslational modification known as “prenylation.” Prenylation is the addition of one or more C15 or C20 isoprenoid moieties to the C-termini of proteins. This modification is known to facilitate the association of certain proteins with cellular membranes and to be a key factor in their interactions with other proteins at the membrane/cytoplasm interface. Members of this class include RAS and RAS-related proteins. Members of the former group of proteins include K-RAS, a protein whose mutation is known to be involved in the dysfunctions associated with malignant transformation. There are currently no generalized methods available for the study of these protein modifications, probably in part because their extreme hydrophobicity presents challenges for bioseparations approaches traditionally applied to proteomics. The latter problem is compounded by a relative lack of bioinformatics tools for analysis of data generated by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. I am therefore using non-traditional approaches for chromatographic separation and studying model peptides in order to develop methodologies to effectively approach this problem.

Select Publications

Li Y, Xiang R, Horváth C, Wilkins JA. Capillary electrochromatography of peptides on a neutral porous monolith with annular electroosmotic flow generation, Electrophoresis, 25(4-5), 545-553 (2004). [Pubmed]

Li Y, Chen Y, Xiang R, Ciuparu D, Pfefferle LD, Horváth C, Wilkins JA. Incorporation of single-wall carbon nanotubes into an organic polymer monolithic stationary phase for mu-HPLC and capillary electrochromatography, Anal Chem., 77(5), 1398-1406 (2005). [Pubmed]

National Institute of General Medical Sciences Adelson Medical Research Foundation