Thomas E. Ferrin, PhD

Thomas E. Ferrin, PhD

Professor in Residence, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry; and Director, Computer Graphics Laboratory, UCSF

Phone: (415) 476-2299 (voice)
Box 0446, UCSF
San Francisco, CA 94143-0446

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Cancer Center Membership

Associate Member ยป Cancer Genetics

Research Summary

My research lab develops software and advanced web-based resources for the integrated visualization and analysis of molecular structure at scales ranging from atomic to supramolecular. Our objective is to create methods and tools for handling the diverse types of data associated with these structures and their broader contexts, and then deploy these tools to study structure-function relationships to reveal the molecular mechanisms of biological processes. Our primary efforts are in visualization and analysis of protein structure at multiple scales, protein interaction and similarity networks, and defining principles by which enzyme structure mediates catalytic function. Our aims are to advance the understanding of the molecular basis of disease and phenotypic variation, annotate proteins of unknown function, identify targets for drug development, more effectively design drugs, and engineer proteins with new functions.

I'm also the director of the Resource for Biocomputing, Visualization, and Informatics, an NIH National Center for Research Resources Biomedical Technology Research Center.


University of Minnesota, B.S., 1971
University of California San Francisco, Ph.D., 1986, Med. Info. Science

Professional Experience

  • 1970-71
    Engineering Assistant, Biophysics Group, University of Minnesota
  • 1972-76
    Development Engineer, Cardiovascular Research Institute, UCSF
  • 1976-86
    Computer Facilities Manager, Computer Graphics Laboratory, UCSF
  • 1977-87
    Lecturer, School of Pharmacy, UCSF
  • 1986-93
    Director of Computing, Computer Graphics Laboratory, UCSF
  • 1987-89
    Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Pharmacy, UCSF
  • 1989-93
    Adjunct Professor, School of Pharmacy, UCSF
  • 1993-present
    Professor In-Residence, School of Pharmacy, and Director, Computer Graphics Laboratory, UCSF

Selected Publications

  1. Outcome of the First wwPDB Hybrid/Integrative Methods Task Force Workshop. Structure. 2015 Jul 7; 23(7):1156-67.
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  2. MDA Generates Models of Large Multidomain Proteins. Biophysical Journal. 2015; 108(9):2097-2102.
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  3. Multidomain Assembler (MDA) Generates Models of Large Multidomain Proteins. Biophys J. 2015 May 5; 108(9):2097-102.
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  4. RRDistMaps: a UCSF Chimera tool for viewing and comparing protein distance maps. Bioinformatics. 2015 May 1; 31(9):1484-6.
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  5. cddApp: a Cytoscape app for accessing the NCBI conserved domain database. Bioinformatics. 2015 Jan 1; 31(1):134-6.
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  6. enhancedGraphics: a Cytoscape app for enhanced node graphics. F1000Res. 2014; 3:147.
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  7. setsApp: Set operations for Cytoscape Nodes and Edges. F1000Res. 2014; 3:149.
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  8. Enhancing UCSF Chimera through web services. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Jul; 42(Web Server issue):W478-84.
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  9. The Structure-Function Linkage Database. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Jan; 42(Database issue):D521-30.
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  10. Genetic and epigenetic regulation of the organic cation transporter 3, SLC22A3. Pharmacogenomics J. 2013 Apr; 13(2):110-20.
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  11. Macromolecular assembly structures by comparative modeling and electron microscopy. Methods Mol Biol. 2012; 857:331-50.
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  12. clusterMaker: a multi-algorithm clustering plugin for Cytoscape. BMC Bioinformatics. 2011; 12:436.
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  13. A common 5'-UTR variant in MATE2-K is associated with poor response to metformin. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Nov; 90(5):674-84.
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  14. UCSF Chimera, MODELLER, and IMP: an integrated modeling system. J Struct Biol. 2012 Sep; 179(3):269-78.
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  15. Functional characterization of liver enhancers that regulate drug-associated transporters. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Apr; 89(4):571-8.
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  16. Improving the quality of protein similarity network clustering algorithms using the network edge weight distribution. Bioinformatics. 2011 Feb 1; 27(3):326-33.
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  17. ModBase, a database of annotated comparative protein structure models, and associated resources. Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Jan; 39(Database issue):D465-74.
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  18. Role of organic cation transporter 3 (SLC22A3) and its missense variants in the pharmacologic action of metformin. Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2010 Nov; 20(11):687-99.
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  19. Workshop on molecular animation. Structure. 2010 Oct 13; 18(10):1261-5.
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  20. Genetic variants of human organic anion transporter 4 demonstrate altered transport of endogenous substrates. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2010 Oct; 299(4):F767-75.
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