James "Rocky" Contos: CV

5071 Constitution Rd.
San Diego, CA 92117


9/93 - 9/99 Ph.D. Neuroscience (advisor: Dr. Jerold Chun)
University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA

9/89 - 12/92 B.S. Biochemistry (emphasis Plant Science)
University of California, Davis Davis, CA


9/08- Director: SierraRios (San Diego, CA) [www.sierrarios.org]
As founder and director of this nonprofit, I have worked toward the overall objective of protection and conservation of free-flowing rivers in Mexico. My strategy has been to first increase the public’s awareness and appreciation of river resources. To this end, I have explored ~200 rivers in Mexico, developed a website, written and published a guidebook, and guided many raft-support trips in the region.

2/03-6/08 Research Associate: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Ctr. (Seattle, WA)
In the lab of Dr. Linda Buck, I designed and directed projects to characterize the neural circuitry of the mammalian olfactory and sex hormone systems. I oversaw technicians, worked with teams of individuals to solve various problems encountered in the projects, and garnered my own funding from the NIH.

9/99-7/02 Research Associate: Dept. of Pharmacology, UCSD (La Jolla, CA)
In the lab of Dr. Jerold Chun, I generated lysophospholipid receptor-deficient mice and characterized the gene deletion effects on cerebral cortex development, olfaction, reproduction, wound healing, and signal transduction. I published 22 articles on this topic, and was awarded a highly competitive 3-year NRSA grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue this research.

9/93-06/95 Guide: Outback Adventures, UCSD (La Jolla, CA).
I instructed kayak techniques such as the Eskimo roll in pool sessions and guided up to 6-day canoe and sea kayak trips in California and Baja California.


4/04-3/07 NIDCD Postdoctoral Fellowship (NRSA; F32)
2/03-3/04 HHMI Research Associate
10/96-10/99 NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship (NRSA)
9/95 - 9/96 Neuroplasticity of Aging Training Grant
9/93 - 9/95 Lucille P. Markey Fellowship
1993 Departmental Citation at graduation: Biochemistry
1993 Summa Cum Laude at graduation, GPA 3.82
1992 - 1993 President's Undergraduate Fellowship
1991 NSF Grant - student research assistant
1989 - 1992 Chancellor's scholar
1989, 1991 Edward and Mary Court Memorial Scholarship
1989, 1991 Jastro Memorial Scholarship
1989 Anacomp Scholarship
1989 California Garden Club Mercedes T. Murner Scholarship
1989 Men's Garden Club of Santa Rosa Scholarship


2/03-6/08 Postdoctoral Research: Neuroscience/Molecular Genetics
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle, WA)
Advisor: Dr. Linda Buck
Aim: To trace the neural circuitry in the mammalian olfactory & GnRH systems using genetically encoded lectins coexpressed with neuronal populations.

9/99-7/02 Postdoctoral Research: Neuroscience/Molecular Genetics
Dept. of Pharmacology, UCSD (La Jolla, CA)
Advisor: Dr. Jerold Chun
Aim: To characterize lysophospholipid receptor deficient mice: signal transduction and olfactory, cerebral cortical, reproductive, & other effects.

1/95-9/99 Thesis Research: Neuroscience/Molecular Genetics
Neurosciences Graduate Program, UCSD (La Jolla, CA)
Advisor: Dr. Jerold Chun
Aim: To characterize and define the role of lysophospholipid receptors in mice - accomplished by heterologous cell assays, gene characterization and expression analysis, and creating/analyzing targeted mouse mutants.

5/92 - 8/93 Research assistant: Plant Molecular Biology
Dept. of Pomology, UC Davis (Davis, CA)
Advisor: Dr. Roger Romani
Aim: To define the role of DNA methylation in tomato polygalacturonase gene transcription.

10/90 - 8/93 Research assistant: Plant Biochemistry
Dept. of Pomology, UC Davis (Davis, CA)
Advisor: Dr. John Labavitch
Aim: To characterize fungal polygalacturonase inhibiting proteins in tomato.

1/91-3/91 Internship: Organic Synthesis
Dept. of Chemistry, UC Davis (Davis, CA).
Advisor: Dr. Michael Nantz
Aim: To use Diels-Alder chemistry to synthesize novel organic compounds.


1/05 - 3/05 Co-Instructor: Controversies in Biology (Biol485A: Univ. Washington)
Explored genetically modified crops, stem cells, cloning, genetic testing.

6/04 – 8/04 Future Faculty Fellows Program (HHMI, Univ. Washington)
Seminars on topics for university tenure-track bound postdoctoral fellows.

7/04 – 8/04 Supervised summer FHCRC student: Camille Inducil
Mentored student in heterologous expression assays for ORs/VRs.

1/02 - 5/02 Preparing Professional Faculty Series (UCSD)
Seminars on topics for tenure-track bound students/postdocs.

1/01 - 5/01 Supervised 199 student: Matthew McCreight
Taught and mentored student in PCR, cloning, and genotyping of mice.

8/98 - 8/99 Supervised 199 student: John Brannen
Taught and mentored student in sequencing, plasmid preparation, and PCR.

4/97 - 6/97 Teaching assistant: Regulation of Gene Activity (UCSD: BIMM 112)

9/96 - 12/96 Teaching assistant: Structural Biochemistry (UCSD: BIBC 100)

8/96 - 9/96 Teaching assistant: Cellular Neurobiology (UCSD: BIPN 140)

4/96 - 6/96 Teaching assistant: Cell Biology (UCSD: BICD 110)

1/96 - 4/96 Teaching assistant: General Chemistry Lab (UCSD: CHEM 6BL)

3/93 - 6/93 Teaching assistant: Biochemistry Lab (UC Davis: BCP 101L)

4/92 - 6/93 Exam grader: General Biochemistry (UC Davis: BCP 101A, 101B)


Contos, Rocky (2012) Blind Adventurer Erik Weihenmayer Kayaks Biggest River in Mexico. American Whitewater (Jul-Aug 2012): 20-25.

Contos, Rocky (2012) Testing the Usu. Canoe and Kayak (July 2012): 58-, 74.

Contos, Rocky (2012) Río Mulatos-Aros: the Best Raft Support River in Mexico. American Whitewater (May-Jun 2012): 30-32.

Contos, Rocky (2012) Access Denied. Guatemalan villagers threaten, detain members of thwarted Rio Copón expedition. Canoe & Kayak (March 2012): posted online.

Contos, Rocky (2011) Río Piaxtla: A First Descent through the Deepest Canyon in North America. American Whitewater (Jul-Aug 2011): 45-47.

Contos, Rocky (2010) A first descent on Río Huevachi. American Whitewater (Jul-Aug 2010): 26-29.

Contos, Rocky (2010) Mexico, Paddling, and Drugs: Is it safe to travel? American Whitewater (Jul-Aug 2010): 28-29

Contos, Rocky (2010) Mexican Whitewater: Norte [A Guide to the Rivers of the Copper Canyon Region]. 334 pages. Published by SierraRios, July 2010.

Contos, Rocky (2010) First Descent of Río Chínipas, a To-be Class IV Mexican Classic. American Whitewater (Jan-Feb 2010): 40-43.

Contos, Rocky (2008) Barranca Sinforosa, a Grand Canyon in Mexico. American Whitewater (May-Jun 2008): 48-53.

Contos, Rocky (2007) The Eddy of No Return. First Descent of Río Ameca, Jalisco. American Whitewater (May-Jun 2007): 54-57.

Contos, Rocky (2006) Exploring Mexico’s Copper Canyon. American Whitewater (Jul-Aug 2006): 20-23.

Contos, Rocky (2006) Ineluctable Defiles on Río Sirupa. American Whitewater (Mar-Apr 2006): 12-17.

23. Liberles S, Horowitz L, Contos JJ, Kuang D, and L Buck (2008) A third family of receptors expressed in the vomeronasal organ. In preparation.

22. Ye X, Hama K, Contos JJ, Anliker B, Skinner MK, Suzuki H, Amano T, Kennedy G, Arai H, Aoki J, and J Chun (2005) LPA3-mediated lysophosphatidic acid signaling in implantation and embryo spacing. Nature 435: 104-108.

21. Inoue M, Fujita R, Contos JJ, Chun J, and H Ueda (2004) Involvement of RhoA-mediated lysophosphatidic acid signaling in neuropathic pain. Nature Medicine 10: 712-718.

20. Kingsbury M, Rehen SK, Contos JJ, and J Chun (2003) Enhanced cerebral cortical growth and folding by non-proliferative effects of lysophosphatidic acid. Nature Neurosci 6: 1292-1299.

19. Kaushal D, Contos JJ, Treuner K, Yang AH, Kingsbury MA, Rehen SK, McConnell MJ, Okabe M, Barlow C, and J Chun (2003) Alteration of gene expression by chromosome loss in the postnatal mouse brain. J Neurosci 23: 5599-5606.

18. Contos JJA, Ye X, Sah V, and J Chun (2002) Tandem genomic arrangement of a G protein (Gna15) and G protein-coupled receptor (s1p4/lpC1/Edg6) gene. FEBS Lett 531: 99-102

17. McGiffert C, Contos JJA, Friedman B, and J Chun (2002) Embryonic brain expression analysis of lysophospholipid receptor genes suggests roles for s1p1 in neurogenesis and s1p1-3 in angiogenesis. FEBS Lett 531: 103-108.

16. Contos JJA, Ishii I, Fukushima N, Kingsbury MA, Ye X, Kawamura S, Heller-Brown J, and J Chun (2002) Characterization of lpa2 (Edg4) and lpa1/lpa2 (Edg2/Edg4) lysophosphatidic acid receptor knockout mice: signaling deficits without obvious phenotypic abnormality attributable to lpa2. Mol Cell Biol 22: 6921-6929.

15. Ishii I, Ye X, Friedman B, Kawamura S, Contos JJA, Kingsbury MA, Yang AH, Zhang G, Heller-Brown J, and J Chun (2002) Marked perinatal lethality and cellular signaling deficits in mice null for the two sphingosine 1-phosphate receptors, S1P2/LPB2/EDG-5 and S1P3/LPB3/EDG-3. J Biol Chem 277: 25152-25159.

14. Fukushima N, Weiner JA, Kaushal D, Contos JJA, Rehen SK, Kingsbury MA, Kim KY, and J Chun (2002) Lysophosphatidic acid influences the morphology and motility of young, postmitotic cortical neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci, 20: 271-282.

13. Ishii I, Friedman B, Ye X, Kawamura S, McGiffert C, Contos JJA, Kingsbury M, Zhang G, Brown JH, and J Chun (2001) Sphingosine-1-phosphate signaling defects with no obvious phenotypic abnormality in mice lacking the receptor, LPB3/EDG3. J Biol Chem 276: 33697-33704.

12. Contos JJA, and J Chun (2001) The lpA3/Edg7 lysophosphatidic acid receptor gene: genomic structure, chromosomal localization, and expression pattern. Gene 267: 243-253

11. Weiner JA, Fukushima N, Contos JJA, Scherer SS, and J Chun (2001) Regulation of Schwann cell morphology and adhesion by receptor-mediated lysophosphatidic acid signaling. J Neurosci 21: 7069-7078.

10. Moller T, Contos JJA, Musante DB, Chun J, and BR Ransom (2001) Expression and function of lysophosphatidic acid receptors in cultured rat microglial cells. J Biol Chem 276: 25946-25952.

9. Fukushima N, Ishii I, Contos JJA, Weiner JA, and J Chun (2001) Lysophospholipid receptors. Ann Rev Pharm Toxic 41:507-534.

8. Contos JJA, Ishii I, and J Chun (2000) Lysohosphatidic acid receptors. Mol Pharm. 58:1188-1196.

7. Contos JJA, Fukushima N, Weiner JA, Kaushal D, and J Chun (2000) Requirement for the lpA1 lysophosphatidic acid receptor gene in normal suckling behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:13384-13389.

6. Ishii I, Contos JJA, Fukushima N, and J Chun (2000) Functional comparison of the lysophosphatidic acid receptors, LPA1/VZG-1/EDG2, LPA2/EDG4, and LPA3/EDG7 in neuronal cell lines using a retrovirus expression system. Mol Pharm. 58: 895-902.

5. Contos JJA, and J Chun (2000) Genomic characterization of a second lysophosphatidic acid receptor gene, lpA2/Edg4, and identification of a frameshift mutation in a previously characterized cDNA. Genomics 64: 155-169.

4. Contos JJA*, Zhang GF* (co-first authors), Weiner JA, Fukushima N, and J Chun (1999) Comparative analysis of three murine G-protein coupled receptors activated by sphingosine-1-phosphate. Gene 227: 89-99.

3. Chun J, Contos JJA, and D Munroe (1999) A growing family of receptor genes for lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and other lyso-phospholipids (LPs). Cell Biochem Biophys: 30: 213-242.

2. Contos JJA and J Chun (1998) Complete cDNA sequence, genomic structure, and chromosomal localization of the LPA receptor gene, lpA1/vzg-1/Gpcr26. Genomics 51: 364-378.

1. Stotz HU, Contos JJA, Powell ALT, Bennett AB, and JM Labavitch (1994) Structure and expression of an inhibitor of fungal polygalacturonases from tomato. Plant Molecular Biology 25: 607-617.


Jerold Chun, MD, PhD (PhD/postdoc advisor); Professor of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute; (858) 784-8410; jchun@scripps.edu

Tom Diegel (Member of SierraRios Board of Directors); Owner of Modaliti (a recreation design company), Salt Lake City, UT; (801) 230-8010; tomd@modaliti.com

Michael Petrascheck, Ph.D. (Peer at FHCRC); Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute; (858) 784-7463; pscheck@scripps.edu

A few articles have been written about me:

American Whitewater (2007)

Kayak Session (2009)

Canoe & Kayak (2011)

Send an e-mail to me (rocky-at-sierrarios.org)