Carissa James, PhD

Carissa James, PhD

Director of Research and Development

Dr. James is a translational scientist committed to discovering novel therapeutic opportunities and translating basic research into clinical successes in the field of intercellular junctions. She earned a PhD in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health program at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech, where she investigated the role of GJA1-20k, an alternatively translated isoform of Connexin43 (Cx43) encompassing the C-terminus, in cancer progression. Dr. James identified translation of GJA1, the mRNA coding for Cx43 and GJA1-20k, as a target for TGF-b, and a novel mechanism by which intercellular junctions are degraded during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is fundamental to wound healing in epithelial cells, development, and cancer metastasis. This discovery and her interest in translational biology led her to FirstString Research, where she is focused on the development of therapeutics that capitalize on the translational potential of the Cx43 C-terminus. Dr. James is an expert on the junctional and non-junctional roles of the Cx43 C-terminus and the mechanisms by which aCT1 peptide modulates the behavior of junctional proteins.