Research Areas

Dr. Hickman’s lab involves the creation of new test-beds of functional human-on-a-chip systems to investigate spinal cord repair, ALS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, malaria and other diseases. His lab has been heavily involved in integrating biological and cell-based systems with MEMS devices, primarily microelectronic devices. Dr. Hickman published the first serum-free, defined culture system for neuronal systems (Schaffner et al., 1995) and has now extended this from rat to mouse, both embryonic and adult, as well as to human.  These defined in vitro systems have now been extended to cardiac, muscle, endothelial, hepatocyte, cancer, kidney and epithelial cells as well as multiple combinations of different cell types, which has culminated by numerous publications of multi-organ systems to evaluate efficacy and toxicity of compounds for application in drug discovery, general toxicology and cosmetics. Sanofi used efficacy data from one of our models to file the first IND utilizing a human-on-a-chip model that has enabled a clinical trial (#NCT04658472). This is described in our joint publication (Rumsey et al. 2022).

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