Joan E. Nichols, PhD

Dr. Nichols is a Professor of Internal Medicine, and Microbiology and Immunology and the Associate Director of the Galveston National Laboratory at UTMB. She has been involved in research projects looking at the alterations in the human immune response to microbial pathogens since 1985. Dr. Nichols is interested in the etiology and pathogenesis of viral infections caused by RNA viruses. Her research mixes aspects of both virology and immunology in order to assess the impact of virus and/or host factors on the development of clinical disease, generation of the immune response and development of immune memory. To delineate the role of influenza determinants of virulence, she is evaluating viral components that influence virulence using vaccine candidate reassortants of attenuated and wild type viruses as well as manipulation of the virus genome using reverse genetics. She is interested in the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines, expression of cell surface mediators and the processes of cellular signaling on the development of clinical disease. She is currently assessing the role of influenza neuraminidase production/activity on the induction of apoptosis of human peripheral blood lymphocytes as well as the relationship between lymphocyte apoptosis and the development of clinical disease.

Dr. Nichols' other work highlights response of the lung after exposure to pollutants and/or respiratory pathogens and she has expertise in the areas of general immunology, inflammation, disease pathogenesis, stem cell characterization/differentiation and stem cell treatments, healing following traumatic injury to the brain or lungs and lung immune defense.  Dr. Nichols has been using adult and embryonic stem cells as well as tissue engineering techniques to produce human ex vivo organoids/tissue constructs to use as human model systems to study disease pathogenesis and the human response to respiratory pathogens such as avian-influenza and other biosafety level-2, -3, and -4 pathogens. A recent publication highlights the use of acellular whole lung scaffolds to produce lung tissue and bioengineered human lungs successfully transplanted into swine.

Search PubMed for Dr. Nichols' publications.

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