James B Ames

James Ames

Position Title
Faculty Director of NMR Facility

126 Chemistry

The main focus of our research is to use NMR and other biophysical techniques to elucidate the molecular structure and function of neuronal calcium sensor proteins that regulate phototransduction in vision and other signal transduction processes.  We're currently studying retinal recoverin, a calcium sensor in vision, and the guanylate cyclase activating proteins (GCAPs), implicated in autosomal dominant cone dystrophy.  Our studies also include neuronal homologs, such as the DREAM protein in the brain that serves as a transcriptional repressor for pain modulation as well as a sublcass of EF-hand proteins (CaBPs) that modulate the activity of neuronal Ca2+ channels.  This emerging family of proteins is important for signal transduction generally because Ca2+-induced conformational changes in these proteins control their cellular location and capacity to interact with membrane-bound targets and/or DNA elements. The long-term goal of our work is to develop an atomic-level understanding of how neuronal calcium sensor proteins operate in signal transduction and disease processes.

Education, Awards and Professional Highlights

  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2016)
  • Appointed to UC Davis faculty (2006)
  • Associate Professor, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (2004-2006)
  • Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (1998-2004)
  • Beckman Young Investigator Award (2000)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University (1993-1997)
  • Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (1992)
  • B.S. University of Michigan (1986)

Representative Publications