Dr. Jason Rawlings grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. He received a B.S. in Biology from Furman University. He then went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky where his research focused on the regulation of cytokine signal transduction during development in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. He then moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he became a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. At St. Jude, his focus shifted to the regulation of cytokine signaling in the context of the development and function of the immune system using the laboratory mouse Mus musculus as a model organism. He incorporated genetic, molecular, and biochemical techniques to study the epigenetic mechanism(s) that regulate T lymphocyte activation and proliferation. These studies were published in The EMBO Journal and received a landslide of press. Shortly after publication, The Scientist Magazine ranked it #6 in the world in the field of Molecular Biology and named it the Editor's Choice in Immunology. In 2010, Dr. Rawlings returned to his alma mater and joined the Biology Department. At Furman, he continues the research program he developed at St. Jude. His current research focuses on determining the epigenetic mechanisms that control chromatin decondensation during T lymphocyte activation. Dr. Rawlings is currently a member of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), the Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB), and the Council for Undergraduate Researchers (CUR).

Name Title Description


Seminar in Biology

Presentations of current topics in biology by students, faculty, and visiting scientists. Emphasis is on effective oral communication and critical examination of scientific information and ideas.


Foundations of Biology

Introduction to the unifying concepts of biology. Topics include: cell structure and function, metabolism, genetics, evolution, and the diversity of life. Laboratories emphasize an investigative approach. Designed for science majors.



Introduction to the study of inheritance. Topics include: transmission of genes in cellular and organismal reproduction, structure and arrangement of genetic material in the cell, control and function of genes, and population genetics. Equal emphasis given to inheritance patterns and molecular genetics. Laboratories include testing the genetics of Drosophila and other organisms, and basic molecular techniques.


Molecular Biotechniques

Brief history of modern molecular biology, the basic concepts of techniques commonly used in molecular biology, and the current ethical issues in the application of biotechniques. Hands-on experience and critical reading of research articles.


Developmental Biology

Embryonic changes studied at the genetic, biochemical, cellular, and spatial levels. Growth, metamorphosis, tumors, and aging are also studied. Emphasis is on mechanisms of developmental processes, rather than on anatomy. Laboratory involves modern techniques used in the study of development, handling, and manipulating living embryos of several species.


Tch Mthds & Mtrls in Biology

Practicum for developing teaching skills in biology, including the laboratory and field work. Topics include planning and preparation, safety and storage, and instruction. Practicum will provide experiences teaching in the university classroom.



Study of the immune system dealing with both adaptive and innate immunity. Topics include cellular aspects of immunology, antibody-antigen interactions, the genetic basis of antigenic recognition, regulation of the immune response, tumor immunology and autoimmunity. Laboratory emphasis on various modern techniques used in immunology.

During an immune response, naïve T lymphocytes that encounter their cognate antigen become activated and acquire the ability to proliferate in response to cytokines. Specifically, genes that are required for proliferation remain transcriptionally silent in naïve T lymphocytes that are exposed to cytokines, but are readily transcribed following T lymphocyte activation. We determined that this change in transcriptional competence is due to a reconfiguration of chromatin (the way in which DNA is packaged in the nucleus). Our current research focuses on determining the mechanism(s) for this activation-induced chromatin reconfiguration. Projects in the lab utilize the mouse model system and employ a variety of molecular and immunological techniques including flow cytometry, cell sorting, quantitative PCR, immunofluorescence microscopy, and Western blot. Our research has broad implications in the areas of cancer biology, autoimmunity and immunodeficiency.

*Denotes undergraduate coauthor
+these authors contributed equally

  • K.N. Bingham*†, M.D. Lee*†, and J.S. Rawlings. The use of Flow Cytometry to assess the state of chromatin in T cells. JoVE 2015; 106: e53533
  • M.D. Lee*+, K.N. Bingham*+, T.Y. Mitchell*, J.L. Meredith*, and J.S. Rawlings. Calcium mobilization is both required and sufficient for initiating chromatin decondensation during activation of peripheral T-cells. Mol Immunol 2015; 63: 540-549.
  • D.M. Hollis, Y. Sawa*, A. Wagoner*, J.S. Rawlings, F.W. Goetz. Isolation and molecular characterization of Rem2 isoforms in the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss): Tissue and central nervous system expression. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol 2012. 161: 93-101.
  • J.S. Rawlings, M. Gatzka, P.G. Thomas, and J.N. Ihle. Chromatin condensation via the condensin II complex is required for peripheral T cell quiescence. EMBO J 2011. 30: 263-76.
  • J.J. Gruber, D.S. Zatechka, L.R. Sabin, J. Yong, J.J. Lum, M. Kong, W. Zong, Z. Zhang, C. Lau, J. Rawlings, S. Cherry, J.N. Ihle, G. Dreyfuss, and C.B. Thompson. Ars2 links the nuclear cap binding complex to RNA interference and cell proliferation. Cell 2009. 132: 328-39.
  • M. Gatzka, R. Piekorz, R. Moriggl, J. Rawlings, and J. Ihle. A role for STAT5A/B in protection of peripheral T-lymphocytes from postactivation apoptosis: Insights from gene expression profiling. Cytokine 2006. 34: 143-154.
  • J.S. Rawlings, G. Rennebeck, and D.A. Harrison. Two Drosophila suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) differentially regulates the JAK and EGFR pathways. BMC Cell Biology 2004. 5: 38.
  • J.S. Rawlings, K.M. Morey, and D.A. Harrison. The JAK/STAT Signaling Pathway. Journal of Cell Science 2004. 117: 1281-1283.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
University of Kentucky
Furman University

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