Jordan Ward

Jordan Ward Assistant Professor of MCD Biology
B. S., University of Alberta
M. S., University of Alberta
Ph.D., Cancer Research UK, Clare Hall Laboratories and University of London
Postdoctorate, University of California, San Francisco


Nestled in the redwoods of the stunning UC Santa Cruz campus, we are interested in how biological timers work. We focus on nematode molting, a remarkable process where the animal must essentially build a new epidermis underneath the old skin and then rapidly shed the old skin, all in a period of four hours. A large-scale gene expression oscillator comprised of 10-20% of all C. elegans genes coordinates this process of rhythmic skin regeneration, but how this timer works is only beginning to be unraveled. We study underlying clockwork of this timer as well as its outputs, namely apical extracellular matrix (aECM) remodeling. Nematode cuticles are a collagen-based aECM similar to mammalian ECMs; thus, understanding aECM dynamics during molting can inform mammalian dermal physiology, wound healing, and tumor invasion through the ECM. A key molting regulator, NHR-23 promotes spermatogenesis and we are interest in how this oscillating somatic timer has been co-opted to be constitutively expressed in the germline to coordinate sperm development. Many oscillating mammalian circadian rhythm regulators are also constitutively expressed in the testes though this phenomenon is poorly understood. Our long-term interest is to leverage our C. elegans findings to find new approaches to combat parasitic nematodes, an understudied global health burden. It is estimated that 2.9 billion people are infected with parasitic nematodes worldwide, comprising 85% of neglected tropical disease.

 Please follow this link to find the lab's publications in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database.