Craig J. Thomas, Ph.D.

Craig J. Thomas, Ph.D.
Adjunct Investigator
Leader, Chemistry Technologies, NCATS

Craig Thomas uses high-throughput technologies to make novel discoveries at the interface of chemistry and biology. Dr. Thomas serves as leader of chemistry technologies at the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). His research interests include the production of novel screening libraries, the development of biologically active small molecules, the association of phenotype to pharmacology, the phenotypic screening of mechanistically annotated small molecule libraries, the development of novel drug combinations, and the progression of agents into advanced pre-clinical and clinical studies.

Dr. Thomas is also an Adjunct Investigator in CCR's Chemical Biology Laboratory.

Areas of Expertise

1) chemical biology, 2) medicinal chemistry, 3) pharmacology, 4) chemogenomic screening, 5) cancer biology, 6) drug development

Contact Info

Craig J. Thomas, Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building B, Room 3005
Rockville, MD 20850-3370
Ph: 301-217-4079

The Thomas lab works at the interface of chemistry and biology mixing pharmacology, chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, systems biology and drug development to explore new translational opportunities across a range of disease states. Scientists in our laboratory use state-of-the-art technologies to conduct large chemogenomic screens of approved and investigational drugs in single agent and combination format as a means to define drug response signatures in multiple disease models. The outcomes of these studies span from basic to translation research.  In the domain of basic research, the outcomes of these studies reveal new insights in pharmacology-informed systems biology. On the translational front, the outcomes of these studies can define new therapeutic opportunities for clinical development. Our medicinal chemistry and drug discovery efforts employ a mix of structure-based and high-throughput methods to identify chemical leads which are then optimized into biologically active probes of key cellular targets. These new, biologically active probes provide important tools that interrogate the functional consequences (phenotypes) associated with inhibiting/activating the targets of interest in key disease models. These tools are offered freely. Occasionally, agents that result from these efforts qualify as investigational drugs and enter human evaluation. 

NIH Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Molecular Pharmacology, Systems Biology
  1. Lionakis MS, Dunleavy K, Roschewski M, Widemann BC, Butman JA, Schmitz R, Yang Y, Cole DE, Melani C, Higham CS, Desai JV, Ceribelli M, Chen L, Thomas CJ, Little RF, Gea-Banacloche J, Bhaumik S, Stetler-Stevenson M, Pittaluga S, Jaffe ES, Heiss J, Lucas N, Steinberg SM, Staudt LM, Wilson WH.
    Cancer Cell. 31(6): 833-843.e5, 2017. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Gryder BE, Yohe ME, Chou HC, Zhang X, Marques J, Wachtel M, Schaefer B, Sen N, Song YK, Gualtieri A, Pomella S, Rota R, Cleveland A, Wen X, Sindiri S, Wei JS, Barr FG, Das S, Andresson T, Guha R, Lal-Nag M, Ferrer M, Shern JF, Zhao K, Thomas CJ, Khan J.
    Cancer Discov. [Epub ahead of print], 2017. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Mathews Griner LA, Zhang X, Guha R, McKnight C, Goldlust IS, Lal-Nag M, Wilson K, Michael S, Titus S, Shinn P, Thomas CJ, Ferrer M.
    Cell Death Dis. 7(12): e2492, 2016. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Li Y, Bouchlaka MN, Wolff J, Grindle KM, Lu L, Qian S, Zhong X, Pflum N, Jobin P, Kahl BS, Eickhoff JC, Wuerzberger-Davis SM, Miyamoto S, Thomas CJ, Yang DT, Capitini CM, Rui L.
    Oncogene. 35(48): 6223-6234, 2016. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Chen L, Wilson K, Goldlust I, Mott BT, Eastman R, Davis MI, Zhang X, McKnight C, Klumpp-Thomas C, Shinn P, Simmons J, Gormally M, Michael S, Thomas CJ, Ferrer M, Guha R.
    Sci Rep. 6: 37741, 2016. [ Journal Article ]

Craig Thomas received his B.S. from the University of Indianapolis in 1995 and his Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 2000. He then completed postdoctoral work in the laboratories of Sidney Hecht, where he earned a fellowship through the American Cancer Society. In 2003, Thomas joined NIH as director of the chemical biology core at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In 2007, he moved to the NIH Chemical Genomics Center, which was supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute. The center now is supported by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and is called the NCATS Chemical Genomics Center. He is an adjunct member of the National Cancer Institute’s Chemical Biology Laboratory and an adjunct associate professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Temple University School of Medicine. Thomas is an editor of Current Protocols in Chemical Biology and a member of the SciFinder (Chemical Abstracts Service) advisory board. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, is an inventor on more than 15 patents and has given numerous invited lectures.