Dr Patricia Thomas BSc (hons), MRes, PhD

Dr Patricia Thomas

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
MRC Research Fellow

Contact details

Address
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Patricia Thomas is an MRC Skills Development Fellow based in the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR). Her research uses a combination of wet lab and quantitative research techniques (including cell culture, microscopy, molecular biology, bioinformatics and mathematical modelling) to investigate the role of fatty acids in the pathophysiology of disease states. Patricia is particularly interested in understanding how fatty acid storage, mobilisation and metabolism contribute towards cell death and dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.

Part of the Centre for Systems, Modelling and Quantitative Biomedicine

Centre Twitter handle - https://twitter.com/SMQB_UoB

Qualifications

  • PhD in Medical Studies, University of Exeter, 2019
  • Masters by Research (MRes) in Cellular and Molecular Physiology, University of Liverpool, 2015
  • Bachelor of Sciences (BSc) with honours in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Chester and NHS North West, 2014 

Biography

Patricia completed her BSc (hons) in Nutrition and Dietetics before undertaking a Masters by Research (MRes) at the University of Liverpool, where she explored the changes in hypothalamic feeding networks in hypermetabolic states. Patricia then completed her doctoral studies under the supervision of Professor Noel Morgan at the University of Exeter, characterising the role of long-chain fatty acids in pancreatic beta-cell death and dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. During her PhD, Patricia undertook an ISSF secondment at the Centre for Biomedical Modelling and Analysis at the University of Exeter to learn quantitative research methods, analysing neurodegenerative gene networks in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In 2019 Patricia secured an MRC Skills Development fellowship to further her knowledge of quantitative research methods applied to the field of fatty acids. Patricia’s MRC fellowship uses a combined experimental-mathematical modelling approach to determine the mechanism by which fatty acids of varying size translocate the plasma membrane. She aims to translate this work into therapies which slow or potentially halt the progression of type 2 diabetes.

Research

Patricia uses a multidisciplinary approach (including molecular biology techniques, microscopy, flow cytometry, bioinformatics and computational learning) to determine the role of fatty acids in the pathophysiology of disease, particularly diabetes and its co-morbidities. Patricia’s current research focuses predominantly on rodent and human pancreatic beta cells and hepatocytes, to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of insulin resistance and pancreatic beta cell dysfunction and death, the two hallmark features of type 2 diabetes. Alongside fatty acids, Patricia is also interested in the effect of the tryptophan derivative, indole, on pancreatic beta cell function. Currently, Patricia’s research is funded by the MRC.

Research Groups and Centres

Other activities

Data analyst, University of Michigan, USA (2018)

ISSF Secondee at the Centre of Biomedical Modelling and Analysis, University of Exeter (2017-2018)

Technical advisor for Agilent Technologies, Boston, USA: Software development and data analytics of mitochondrial bioenergetics data (2017-2018)

Publications

Dhayal S, Zummo FP, Anderson MW, Thomas P, Arden C, Morgan NG. Differential effects of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids on autophagy in pancreatic β-cells. In press Journal of Molecular Endocrinology 2019:  doi: 10.1530/JME-19-0096.

Namboori SC, Thomas P, Ames R, Garrett LO, Willis CRG, Stanton LW, Bhinge A. Single cell transcriptomics identifies master regulators of dysfunctional pathways in SOD1 ALS motor neurons. In submission equal contributions.

Homes AP, Wong SQ, Pulix M, Johnson K, Horton NS, Thomas P, de Magalhães, Plagge A. Reductions in hypothalamic Gfap expression, glial cells and α-tanycytes in lean and hypermetabolic Gnasxl-deficient mice. Molecular Brain 2016: 9:39.