James Willett, Ph.D.

Professor of Biochemistry & Bioinformatics
Applied Cell Biology and Genetics
(703) 993-8311, phone






Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Scientific Interest and Specialization

Current Research Projects

Dr. Willett employs the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system to study the molecular mechanisms driving physiologic state changes. Phenotypic changes are reflected in the metabolite profile differences found associated with developmental states or exposure to positive or negative biologic system effectors. Metabolic profiling allows detection of those metabolites and sets of metabolites that show marked, reproducible alterations as a result of such specific state changes. Recording biochemical pathway responses to physiologic state modifiers may reveal the molecular mechanisms responsible for these changes. Interest in this approach arose as a result of studies of alterations in signaling arrays in nematodes as a function of age. These studies continue.

Recent Publications

James D. Willett; Neeraja Podugu; Gita Sudama; John J. Kopecky; and Jenefir Isbister J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 May; 65A(5): 457-67. Applications of Cold Temperature Stress to Age Fractionate Caenorhabditis elegans: A Simple Inexpensive Technique

Troast R.and James D. Willett, 2008. Using C elegans as a Tool for Identifying Environmental Lead Contamination: A new endpoint for relating exposures to lead risk Environmental Bioindicators: 3:68-73, 2008

Troast R., Sudama G.and James D. Willett, 2007. Identification of an Exposure Based Biomarker for Lead using Caenorhabditis elegans, Environmental Science and Technology 2007 (I) 444-450. Proceedings from the Third International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology, held August 6-9, 2007 Huston, Texas, USA ISBN 978-0976885382

Troast R., Sudama G.and James D. Willett, 2007. Identification of an Exposure Based Biomarker for Lead using Caenorhabditis elegans, Environmental Science and Technology 2007 (I) 444-450. Proceedings from the Third International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology, held August 6-9, 2007 Huston, Texas, USA ISBN 978-0976885382

Troast R.,Sudama G. and J.D.Willett, 2006. The Use of Genomic Markers in Caenorhabditis elegans as Bioindicators for Environmental Lead Exposure: A Replacement for Current in-vivo and in-vitro Systems? International Society of Environmental Bioindicators and the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) Commission on Bioindicators. April 24-26, 2006. The Conference Center at the Maritime Institute, Maryland USA.

Willett, James D., 2005. Probing Mechanisms of Toxicity through Metabolic Profiling-What can it reveal? (Invited, platform presentation.) IBC Inaugural International Conference on Metabolic Profiling: Using Metabolomics Technology to Accelerate Drug Discovery and Development. November 14-15, 2005. Hilton Durham Hotel, Durham, North Carolina. Proceedings posted online by IBC

Willett, James D. 2005. Studies of Lead Toxicity through Metabolic Profiling in C.elegans. Gordon Research Conference on Toxicogenomics. June 5-10, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH.

Willett, James D.,and Alexander Lazarev., 2005. Assessment of Physiologic State Change and Toxicity; An Integrated systems Biology Approach. 39th Toxicology and Risk Assessment Conference, 25-28 April. Holiday Inn Fairborn, Ohio. Co-sponsored by, EPA, DOD, NIOSH and NAS

Willett, James D. and David D. Keefe. 2004. E-Learning Enhances Situated Learning in Molecular Biosciences, Pgs. 1019-1024. Published proceedings. AACE, E-Learn 2004. World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education. Washington, DC, USA, November 1-5, 2004

Willett, James D., Troast Richard R. and Gita Sudama., 2004. Probing Mechanisms of Toxicity through Metabolic Profiling: Lead and Caenorhabditis elegans. 2nd International Conference on Pathways, Networks and systems: Theory and Experiments. Aldemar Knossos Royal, Crete Greece. October 15-20, 2004

Keefe, David D. and James D. Willett. 2004. Points of view: A Case for PowerPoint as a Faculty Authoring system. Cell Biology Education. Vol 3, 46-47

Willett, James D., Troast, R. and Sudama G., 2004. A New Technique for Assessing Lead Bioavailability. AEHS, 14th Annual West Coast Conference on Soils, Sediments and Water. March 15-18, Mission Valley Marriott, San Diego, California

Willett, James D. 2003. Metabolic Profiling in the Exploration of Mechanisms of Toxicity: Lead in Caenorhabditis elegans. Metabolic Profiling: Pathways to Discovery CHI's 3rd annual meeting. December 8-9. The Hyatt Regency Princeton. Princeton, New Jersey

Willett, James D., Sudama G., Klotz F.and Volchikina S. 2003. Tryptophan Metabolite Profiles as Indicators of Macrophage Response to Pathogens. First International Conference - Crossing Boundaries: Medical Biodefense & Civilian Medicine November 23-25, 2003 Hilton Arlington & Towers, Arlington, Virginia

Willett, James D, 2002. "Genomics, Proteomics: What's Next?" Pharmacogenomics 3(6) 727-728

Willett, James D. and D.D. Keefe, 2002. "Information Technologies Role in Biochemical Systematics". World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare & Higher Education, October 15-19, Montreal, Canada

Willett James D, Richard Troast, and Gita Sudama, 2002. "Effect of Environmental Lead on Small Molecule Patterns using HPLC in C. elegans". Bioinformatics and Pharmacogenomics Symposium 2002. June 12-14, 2002 Richmond Virginia, USA

Brinkac, Lauren M. and J.D. Willett, 2002. "Sterol Biosynthesis: Gene Loss in Caenorhabditis elegans?". Bioinformatics and Pharmacogenomics Symposium. Richmond Virginia, USA.

Willett, James D. Biotechnology; in Encyclopedia of Global Change, Oxford University Press, NY, 2001.

Lyons, S.M., Champ, M.A., Panem, S. and J.D. Willett. 1985. "Alternative Methods for Toxicity Testing," Regulatory Policy Issues. April.

Gay, W.I., and J.D. Willett. 1984. "The Spectrum of Biological Systems and the Selection of Models," National Symposium on Imperatives in Animal Use, Scientific Need and Animal Welfare. April, 11-12.

Findeis, P.M., C.J. Barinaga, J.D. Willett and S.O. Farwell. 1983. "Age-Synchronous Culture of Caenorhabditis Elegans: Technique and Applications," Exptimental Gerontology. 1B: 263-275.

Willett, J.D., E.P. Brody, and M.M. Knight. 1982. "The Analysis of Fatty Alcohols and Fatty Acids As p-(Methylthio)-benzoate Esters," Journal of American Oil Chemists Society. 59:273-277.

Willett, J.D. and M.M. Knight. 1982. "Determination of Chromium in Orchard Leaves by Reversed-Phase High-Performance Liquid Chromatography," Journal of Chromatography. 237:99-105.

Professional Affiliations

Courses of Instruction

BINF-701 and BIOS-701; Biochemical Systematics

Biol-435, Mechanisms of Aging

Professor Willett teaches the University's doctoral level course in Biochemical Systematics, BINF/BIOS-701 and an upper division undergraduate course on the Mechanisms of Aging. The graduate level course in Biochemical Systematics serves as a core course for graduate students in the two doctoral programs within the School of Systems Biology; Molecular and Microbiology(MMB) and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology(BCB). The course addressing the Mechanisms of Aging, serves as an elective offering to seniors in the College of Sciences’ Undergraduate program in Biology which predominantly serves senior level biology majors



Revised August 19, 1998
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