Joan E. Nichols, Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine, as well as Microbiology and Immunology, and Associate Director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the prestigious University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston delivers a thorough overview of her lab’s work studying the lung.
Nichols discusses her background and what motivated her to get into the field of bioengineering, specifically for organs. One major reason was that she saw an incredible need, as the list for organ transplants is long with not nearly enough human organs available. Nichols has spent her extensive career in research, studying many areas of science, with a particular interest in the alterations within the human immune response to microbial pathogens. Nichols’ work examines the lung’s reaction and response after being exposed to pollutants, respiratory pathogens, etc. Her lab is motivated to study many exciting areas that are relevant to medical science such as inflammation, stem cell characterization, and stem cell-based treatments, disease pathogenesis, healing after severe traumatic injury to the brain and lungs, and other important issues.
The bioengineering expert talks in detail about the ways they go about their research at her lab, and how their work has expanded. She talks about the importance of starting small, which she did, working with quarter-sized pieces of lung tissue to study disease and infection, and then advancing to the possibility of developing a full-sized lung. Nichols uses adult and embryonic stem cells and also tissue-engineering techniques to create human ex-vivo organoids/tissue constructs, which can be utilized as human model systems to aggressively research disease pathogenesis and human responses to significant pathogens.
Nichols explains the mechanisms of the lung, detailing gas exchange, and she discusses the intricate elements within the lung and how they study and advance their research based on every new thing they learn. She remarks on the incredible attributes of the lung and how the lung must adapt to various environments, pressures, etc. She discusses cells and how they are affected, and she explains lung development in various animals and compares and contrasts that to human lung function, taking into account immune system responses.
The science expert provides further information on her lab’s future and the need for funding as they advance and expand their research.