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Carin Thomas

Professor, Biochemistry and Toxicology 

Phone: (509) 963-2815 


  • 1991 - PhD Biochemistry University of Nevada, Reno
  • 1986 - MA Biology California Single Subject Teaching Credential in Life Science Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
  • 1983 - BA Botany and BA French Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

Professional Experience:

  • 2010-present: Professor, Department of Chemistry, CWU.
  • 2001-2010: Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, CWU.
  • 2003-2006: Associate Dean for Resource Development, College of the Sciences, CWU.
  • 2004-2005: Chair, Department of Chemistry, CWU.
  • 1995-2001: Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, CWU.
  • 1993-1995: 1993-1995 Faculty Research Associate, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.
  • 1991-1993: Research Fellow, Department of Pathology, Free Radical Research Unit, Christchurch School of Medicine, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Research Interests:

In my research group we study the adverse effects of chemicals on biological systems with a focus on mitochondria. The types of chemicals we investigate include environmental contaminants, pesticides, plastics, nanoparticles and dietary fats. Mitochondria are important subcellular organelles that are called the powerhouse of the cell because they convert the food we eat to cellular energy known as ATP. One area of interest is the ability of chemicals to cause oxidative stress in mitochondria which involves the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical. ROS can oxidize cellular protein, DNA and membranes causing dysfunction that eventually leads to cell death and disease. Organisms are able to defend themselves against the adverse effects of ROS by using antioxidant vitamins, enzymes and glutathione. Our work examines how chemicals and antioxidants interact to affect cellular and mitochondrial function.  The scientific discipline for this type of research is toxicology which is represented nationally by the Society of Toxicology, SOT.
SOT is dedicated to creating a safer and healthier world by advancing the science of toxicology.


  • Terrah Goeden, Martha Kurtz, Ian Quitadamo and Carin Thomas. Community-Based Inquiry in Allied Health Biochemistry Promotes Equity by Improving Critical Thinking for Women and Showing Promise for Increasing Content Gains for Ethnic Minority Students.  Journal of Chemical Education 92:788-796, 2015.
  • Faiola, C , Johansen, AM, Rybka, S, Nieber, A, Thomas, C, Bryner, S, Johnston, J, Engelhard, M, Nachimuthu, P and Owens, KS. Ultrafine particulate ferrous iron and anthracene associations with mitochondrial dysfunction, Aerosol Science and Technology, 45:1109-1122, 2011.
  • Thomas, C., Mackey, MM, Diaz, AA and Cox, DC. Hydroxyl radical is produced via the Fenton reaction in submitochondrial particles under oxidative stress: implications for diseases associated with iron accumulation.Redox Reports 14(3): 102-108, 2009.
  • Thomas C, Will Y, Schoenberg SL, Sanderlin D, and Reed DJ. Conjugative metabolism of 1,2-dibromoethane in mitochondria: disruption of oxidative phosphorylation and alkylation of mtDNA. Biochem Pharmacol 61:595-603, 2001.
  • Vissers, MC and Thomas, C. Hypochlorous acid disrupts the adhesive properties of subendothelial matrix. Free Radic Biol Med 23(3):401-411, 1997.
  • Thomas C, Carr AC, and Winterbourn CC. Free radical inactivation of rabbit muscle creatine kinase: catalysis by physiological and hydrolyzed ICRF-187 (ICRF-198) iron chelates. Free Radical Research 21: 387-397, 1994.
  • Thomas C, Vile GF, and Winterbourn CC. The hydrolysis product of ICRF-187 promotes iron-catalyzed hydroxyl radical production via the Fenton reaction.Biochem Pharmacol 45: 1967-1972, 1993.
  • Elliott AE, Scheiber SA, Thomas C, and Pardini RS. Inhibition of glutathione reductase by flavonoids: a structure-activity study. Biochem Pharmacol 44: 1603-1608, 1992.
  • Thomas C and Pardini RS. Oxygen dependence of hypericin-induced phototoxicity to EMT6 mouse mammary carcinoma cells. Photochem Photobiol 55: 831-837, 1992.
  • Thomas C, MacGill RS*, Miller GC, and Pardini RS. Photoactivation of hypericin generates singlet oxygen in mitochondria and inhibits succinoxidase.Photochemistry Photobiology 55: 47-53, 1992.

Extramural Grant Funding:

  • PI, August 2011, Carin Thomas with Lucinda Carnell (PI, MultiPI proposal) and Mallela Magana. Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research: High fat diet and deficient antioxidant status as contributing factors to mitochondrial dysfunction in C. elegans: implications for the onset of type 2 diabetes. $77,599, NIH supplement to promote diversity, NIDDK, Funded (2011-2013).
  • Co-PI, August 2011, in collaboration with Dan Selski (PI), Lucinda Carnell, Jim Johnson, Holly Pinkart and Carin Thomas. MRI: Acquisition of New Fluorescence/DIC Microscope with Computing Station for Research and Student Training. $161,483. NSF MRI program, Funded (2011).
  • High fat diet and deficient antioxidant status as contributing factors to mitochondrial dysfunction in C. elegans: implications for the onset of type 2 diabetes, PI, with Lucinda Carnell (PI, MultiPI). NIH-R15, NIDDK, $390,377 (2010-2013).
  • Using Community-Based Inquiry to Build Faculty Capacity and Student Critical Thinking. Co-PI, with Ian Quitadamo (PI), Martha Kurtz and Jim Johnson. NSF-CCLI, $199,876 (2010-2012).
  • Surface and bulk characterization of ambient ultrafine particles, Co-PI with Eric Bullock (PI) and Anne Johansen. Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Funded instrument time for XPS, TOF-SIMS (2006-2009).
  • Ultrafine particles and mitochondrial dysfunction, Co-PI with Anne Johansen (PI) and Eric Bullock. NIH-R15, NIEHS, $203,169, (2006-2009).
  • Scientific Discovery Through Inquiry-Based Research: Establishing the Science Honors Research Program at CWU, PI, MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, $225,000, 2005-2008.
  • A Renaissance in Chemistry Research at CWU. PI, MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. $309,000 (1996-1999).


  • 2007 Certificate of Merit, American Chemical Society (ACS), Division of Environmental Chemistry. First author on the oral paper I gave at the 233rd National ACS Meeting in Chicago, IL; the paper was judged outstanding for material content and manner of presentation.
    Thomas C, Bryner, SL*, Bullock EL, Johansen AM, Johnston JM#, and Wells JK*. Correlation of atmospheric ultrafine particle iron and mitochondrial toxicity.American Chemical Society, Division of Environmental Chemistry, Extended Abstracts, Vol. 47 (1), 2007. CWU graduate# and undergraduate* co-authors are noted.
  • 2007 Presidential Faculty Award, Center for Excellence in Leadership, President Jerilyn McIntyre, CWU.
  • 2002 TIAA-CREF/SOURCE Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award, CWU.

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