The Thorn lab

develops novel technologies using tools from microscopy, microfluidics, chemistry, and computation with the long term goal of improving human health.

Research Interests

Encoded bead libraries for parallel biochemical assays

We have developed a technology for producing spectrally encoded microbeads where each bead can be uniquely identified by its code. The codes are produced by varying the ratio of embedded lanthanide nanophosphors using a microfluidic bead synthesis device. We aim to use these beads as a novel platform for a wide range of biochemical assays for both basic and clinical research. This project is a collaboration with the DeRisi and Fordyce labs.

Large image stitching for pathology

We are interested in the development of novel tools for large image stitching for samples much larger than can be imaged on traditional microscopes, such as whole human brain sections. This project is still in its infancy.


Kurt Thorn, PI
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophyiscs

Huy Nguyen
Postdoctoral Fellow

Björn Harink
Postdoctoral Fellow

Positions Available

We have a position available for a postdoctoral fellow to develop novel assays to better diagnose food allergies. Accurate blood tests for food allergies are a major unmet need in the clinic; the current gold standard for diagnosis of food allergy is a challenge with the suspect food. This is an NIH-funded position that aims to apply our recently developed technology for making spectrally encoded microspheres (see Gerver et al. Lab Chip 2012 ) to allow rapid epitope profiling of IgE antibodies in patient samples. In addition, we are also working on developing assays to directly assess allergen-dependent IgE clustering in patient serum samples. The goal of these projects is both to better understand the molecular correlates of severe allergy and to produce a diagnostic test for food allergy.

The ideal candidate would have substantial expertise in assay development, antibody-epitope profiling, or a similar area of biology. Expertise in peptide chemistry, microfluidics, and image analysis are also valuable. Applicants must have a PhD or expect to receive their PhD by the end of the year.

This project is a close collaboration with Dr. Morna Dorsey, director of the Pediatric Allergy Clinic at UCSF, Dr. Joseph DeRisi at UCSF, and Dr. Polly Fordyce at Stanford University, and the individual hired for this position will work closely with these laboratories. The Thorn lab is located in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus, which hosts a vibrant and intellectually stimulating community of highly collaborative researchers.

To apply, please send your CV and names of three references to Kurt Thorn,

Selected Publications

  1. High-resolution imaging of cardiomyocyte behavior reveals two distinct steps in ventricular trabeculation. Staudt DW, Liu J, Thorn KS, Stuurman N, Liebling M, Stainier DY. Development. 2014 Feb;141(3):585-93.
  2. Improved blue, green, and red fluorescent protein tagging vectors for S. cerevisiae. Lee S, Lim WA, Thorn KS. PLoS One. 2013 Jul 2;8(7):e67902.
  3. Mitochondrial network size scaling in budding yeast. Rafelski SM, Viana MP, Zhang Y, Chan YH, Thorn KS, Yam P, Fung JC, Li H, Costa Lda F, Marshall WF. Science. 2012 Nov 9;338(6108):822-4.
  4. Programmable microfluidic synthesis of spectrally encoded microspheres. Gerver RE, Gómez-Sjöberg R, Baxter BC, Thorn KS, Fordyce PM, Diaz-Botia CA, Helms BA, DeRisi JL. Lab Chip. 2012 Nov 21;12(22):4716-23.
  5. Scanning angle interference microscopy reveals cell dynamics at the nanoscale. Paszek MJ, DuFort CC, Rubashkin MG, Davidson MW, Thorn KS, Liphardt JT, Weaver VM. Nat Methods. 2012 Jul 1;9(8):825-7.
  6. Optimized cassettes for fluorescent protein tagging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Sheff MA, Thorn KS. Yeast. 2004 Jun;21(8):661-70.
  7. Engineering the processive run length of the kinesin motor. Thorn KS, Ubersax JA, Vale RD. J Cell Biol. 2000 Nov 27;151(5):1093-100.
  8. A novel method of affinity-purifying proteins using a bis-arsenical fluorescein. Thorn KS, Naber N, Matuska M, Vale RD, Cooke R. Protein Sci. 2000 Feb;9(2):213-7.
  9. Anatomy of hot spots in protein interfaces. Bogan AA, Thorn KS. J Mol Biol. 1998 Jul 3;280(1):1-9.
  10. The crystal structure of a major allergen from plants. Thorn KS, Christensen HE, Shigeta R, Huddler D, Shalaby L, Lindberg U, Chua NH, Schutt CE. Structure. 1997 Jan 15;5(1):19-32.

See all publications at Google Scholar.

Other Activities and Resources

Contact Information

We are located at the Mission Bay Campus of the University of California San Francisco

Kurt Thorn
University of California San Francisco
MC2140, Room S314 Genentech Hall
600 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94158-2517
(use zip 94143 for postal mail)

Phone: 415-326-4566