Joan Nichols, PhD

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1984 …2022

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Joan E. Nichols, MA, PhD directs and collaborates in research projects examining wound and tissue repair mechanisms, and alterations in immune response of the lung and other respiratory tissues after exposure to pollutants and/or respiratory pathogens. She has expertise in the areas of tissue engineering, stem cell therapies, immunology of wound healing and foreign body response, inflammation, disease pathogenesis, stem cell characterization/differentiation and host response to microbial pathogens. 

Dr. Nichols has collaborated with Houston Methodist Research Institute since 2011, and in 2021 joined HMRI as Professor of Immunology in Surgery. Prior to 2019, she was at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) for 27 years. 

Her research group has combined adult and embryonic stem cells with tissue engineering techniques to construct human bioengineered microphysiologic tissue models systems (MPS) to study wound healing as well as disease pathogenesis and the response to human pathogens such as avian-influenza, NIPAH virus, SARS-CoV-2  and other BSL-2, -3 and -4 agents. Modeling tissue development using small MPS tissue engineered constructs has led to development of methods to support whole organ engineering and to a preclinical pilot focused on transplantation of whole tissue engineered lung into a large animal model. Publication highlights include manuscripts demonstrating production of whole human acellular scaffolds, production of bioengineered pediatric lungs from adult lung cells, systems to support vascular engineering and production and transplantation of bioengineered lung. 

Research Area Keywords

  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Infectious Disease & Pathology
  • Transplantation
  • Nanomedicine

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