Positions available for postdocs

We are currently looking to fill three open positions for postdoctoral training in the lab. They center around three themes that we want to push forward over the next two to three years:

1. At the level of a genetic network, extract global properties and design principles from expression level measurements and analysis.

2. At the molecular level, develop mathematical models underlying the fundamental mechanisms of transcriptional regulation and test these using single molecule and live measurements of the transcriptional output.

3. At the level of the dynamics of the DNA polymer, link the nuclear architecture with actual transcriptional activity in terms of multiple enhancers recruiting the same promoter in a given cell.

Experimental and theoretical physicists (preferentially with experience in biological and/or soft-matter physics), engineers and materials scientists with experience in biology, and biologists interested and experienced in quantitative approaches are strongly encouraged to apply. Outstanding applicants in other fields (mathematics, computer science, chemistry, etc.) may also be considered. Experience with microscopy and image analysis is a plus.

Applicants should email me their CV and a brief description of research interests, as well as their motivation to join the lab.


Lots of November Press for TGLab

“Seeing the Pattern”
Nature Reviews Genetics (PDF)

“Measuring Transcription to Follow Embryo Development”
BioTechniques News Highlight

“Scientist to watch: Thomas Gregor – Biological Quantifier”
The Scientist

“Development: Lights, Camera, Action — The Drosophila Embryo Goes Live!”
Current Biology Dispatch by Bothma and Levine (PDF)

“Nature – the IT wizard”
Nautilus Magazine

Researchers Develop Improved Method to Visualize Biologic Molecules

PLoS Press Release for our first paper on mRNA quantification in whole embryos.

“How are biologic molecules arranged inside the embryo so that embryonic development occurs reliably every time? Princeton researchers, led by Thomas Gregor, an assistant professor of physics and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, and Shawn Little, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Eric Wieschaus in the Department of Molecular Biology, have developed a new method to better understand how an embryo’s basic molecular makeup helps ensure that the embryo’s development occurs reliably every time. The results of this research into the fruit fly Drosophila introduce a method for making precise measurements of biologic units (so-called mRNA molecules) that play a key role in development. The findings are published in the March 1st issue of  in the online, open access journal PLoS Biology.”


Easy pieces…

If you’re new to science and are curious to learn more about what our interests in the lab are, here are a couple of easy readings that professional science writers have written about our science. These pieces are meant to be accessible for everybody, no fancy science language nor any unnecessary jargon to pump up the jam…

Here is one on our amoebae work:
Scientists discover the molecular heart of collective behavior

And here is one on our fly work:
Fruit fly research may ‘clean up’ conventional impressions of biology

For other easy access writings please visit the media tab.

Princeton’s father of the cellular slime mold

Here is a very nice feature on John Bonner, Princeton emeritus professor and Dictyostelium hero. With a standing activity of over 70 years of research, he is probably the longest living research contributor to the fascinating world of the social amoebae.

He discovered in 1947 that Dictyostelium cells are attracted by and chemotax towards a chemical called  cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cAMP. And it is only now, more than 60 years later that we can actually visualize and measure the concentration of this chemical in living Dictyostelium cells using an optical technology called FRET.

This is a sampler of Bonner’s outstanding movie collection that he started during his undergraduate days:

Video not available

If you want to read more on him please go here.

Postdoctoral position available

Even if people can always apply by simply sending me an email, for the next two months I am actually officially looking to fill a postdoctoral position, primarily to work on the fly embryogenesis project. It would make some administrators at Princeton really happy if you could go through this site and follow instructions from there. Please be sure to clearly state why you would be interested in joining the lab.

Lab construction completed

And as of today, we have a laboratory in which we can start to do science, how exciting!

We have a large and a small optics room, great space to do bench work, an animal facility, 10 desks for students to sit and a newly renovated Departmental Chemistry and Biology facility. If you look closely you’ll even find real windows with a view outside in the real world, and that in a lab in the Physics Department. They didn’t put us in the basement!

Check it out..


Thomas will be speaking at these conferences this year:

In March in Cambridge, UK at “Noise in Life 09“.

On April 25 at Harvard for the “Spring 2009 EPB Symposium“.

On April 30 at Princeton at the “Physical Principles in Biological Networks Program

In May in Lisbon, Portugal at the workshop on “Biophysical Mechanism of Develoment“.

In August at Los Alamos at the “Third q-bio Conference on Cellular Information Processing“.

In September in Cambridge, UK (again) at the “4th Symposium on the Physics of Living matter“.

On December 4 at NYU at the Developmental Genetics Symposium “Embryo to Brains II”.

Construction progress

By the end of February things in the lab started to take shape…

Abstracts from contributions to recent international Dictyostelium meeting in Tsukuba/Japan

Currently, I am in the process of finishing up my work on amoeba signaling and aggregation in Tokyo. This work is in collaboration with and in the laboratory of Satoshi Sawai at the University of Tokyo. We also collaborate with Koichi Fujimoto, a theorist at the same institution. While no papers have been published yet, as a preview pasted below are three abstracts of contributions to a recent international Dictyostelium meeting held in Tsukuba/Japan. (more…)

Classic papers on signaling and aggregation of amoebae

Over the next few months/years I’d like to use this website to build up a repository of information on the various topics that we study in the lab. Today as a beginning I am introducing 4 classic papers that pioneered a system-level description and quantitative understanding of this spectacular phenomenon:

Video not available

In this movie roughly 200 starved amoebae of the species Dictyostelium discoideum are shown over 8 hours during which they find each other and culminate in a cellular slime mould. This process is seen as a survival strategy because individual amoebae would die under starvation whereas as in the multi-cellular organism 80% of the cells can survive as spores. (more…)

Lab Drawings Finished

The drawings for the new lab are finally done.

Here is a sneak preview:


Lab construction underway

The new lab is being built on the first floor of Jadwin Hall. During my last campus visit mid-October it looked like this:

Let’s hope for the best!

Introducing a new biophysics laboratory in Princeton’s physics department

Starting February 2009 I will join the Physics Department at Princeton as a new faculty member. I will also be associate faculty of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and of the Molecular Biology Department.

I will teach classes both for the Physics Department and for the Lewis-Sigler Institute. My research is highly interdisciplinary, and my hope is to work closely with students from many science departments across campus, mainly physics, biology, computer science, engineering and applied mathematics.

The research focus of the lab is at the interface of biological physics and systems biology. In particular, understanding embryonic development from the perspective of a physicist that views this highly complex process as a self-assembly problem: How do the different parts and ingredients that originate as a single cell work together to develop into a fully-functioning living animal?

This process of biological self-assembly I am also trying to tackle by looking at the emergence of collective behavior in starved amoebae populations. Here, originally autonomous amoebae display a survival strategy in the face of starvation that leads to a multi-cellular organism that produces spores. This system is very accessible experimentally to understand cell signaling, early stages of cell differentiation and pattern formation and the emergence of collective behavior that leads to multicellularity.

Our research will be mainly experimental, but with a strong theoretical influence, both within the lab and in close collaborations with theorists on campus and elsewhere. On the experimental side the goal is to watch life unfolds, i.e. in vivo measurements and manipulations. We build state-of-the-art microscopes and microfluidics devices, and we make heavy use of tools from molecular biology and genetics. On the theoretical side we design analytical and numerical models both to test and guide our experiments, and we take advantage of tools from computer science to analyze images and large data sets.

A new laboratory is under construction at the moment in 125 Jadwin Hall, the first floor of the physics building next to the stadium. My office will be located on the same floor.