James Alexander Thomson (1958- )
James Alexander Thomson, affectionately known as Jamie Thomson, is an American developmental biologist whose pioneering work in isolating and culturing non-human primate and human embryonic stem cells has made him one of the most prominent scientists in stem cell research. While growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, Thomson's rocket-scientist uncle inspired him to pursue science as a career. Born on 20 December 1958, Thomson entered the nearby University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign nineteen years later as a National Merit Scholar majoring in biophysics. He became fascinated with development via the encouragement and influence of Fred Meins, one of his undergraduate professors. After graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, Thomson took his interest in biology to the University of Pennsylvania where he earned two doctorate degrees: one in veterinary medicine, completed in 1985, and the other in molecular biology, completed in 1988. It was during his graduate years that Thomson began working with embryonic stem cells.