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Dr. James J. Hickman

James J. Hickman, Ph.D.
Professor: Chemistry, Biomolecular Science and Electrical Engineering
Phone: 407-823-1925
Fax: 407-882-1156
E-mail: jhickman@ucf.edu
Website: Hickman Hybrid Systems Lab


  • Ph.D. — M.I.T.
  • M.S. — Pennsylvania State University
  • B.A. — Pennsylvania State University


  • Professor, Chemistry, Burnett College of Biomolecular Sciences, and Electrical Engineering


I have been performing research in the field of nanoscience for over 15 years. In reality, nanoscience is a convergence of the areas of material science/ physics, surface chemistry and biology that has major applications in electronics/optics and in the field of biology from basic biology to drug discovery and genomics. The primary application for our research is the creation of new test-beds of functional cellular systems to investigate spinal cord repair, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer's. The idea is that there are no assays that exist between single cells and whole animals at this point. If we can create functional assays based on small cellular units, this would allow the creation of high throughput analysis systems to screen for drug candidates based on cell-cell communication before beginning animal and human studies. Thus, a functional unit based on reflex arc would allow in vitro investigation of spinal injury and ALS while one based on the CA3 region of the hippocampus would allow investigation in an in vitro system of defects that arise in learning and memory in Alzheimer's. We are also applying these techniques to create a high-throughput cell based systems for drug discovery and proteomics based on pathway identification in single cells but also in these functional units. We are also a leading group in the area of using these hybrid systems for biological computation as well as fundamental investigations in neuroscience and cell biology.

Hickman Hybrid Systems Lab
Engineering the interface between biological and non-biological systems to construct next-generation systems for toxicology, drug discovery, and basic biology research.

Current Funding

  • NIH: Microphysiological systems and low cost microfluidic platform with analytics
    Sub-contract PI from Cornell University, 7/1/2012 to 6/30/2017
  • DoD/CDMRP: Towards Prevention of Muscle De-Training
    Sub-contract PI from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, 4/1/2011 to 3/31/2012
  • USAMRMC: In Vitro Models for Biodefense
    Co-PI, 6/28/2010 to 7/27/2012
  • FL Department of Health, Bankhead-Coley (NIR): A high throughput cell-based metabolic analysis of anticancer drugs using nanostructure-enhanced mass spectrometry
    Co-PI, Mentor, 7/1/2010 to 6/30/2013
  • Unither Neurosciences: RF-In Vitro Hybrid Neuronal Systems
    PI, 4/16/2010 to 4/15/2014
  • NIH: An In Vitro Model of Stem Cell Innervation of Myotubes
    PI, 6/23/2005 to 2/28/2016
  • NIH: Functional Invitro CNS and PNS Myelination Model
    Co-PI, 4/01/2010 to 1/31/2014

» View previously funded projects

Selected Publications


K.A. Wilson, C. A. Finch, P. Anderson, F. Vollmer, and J.J. Hickman, “Whispering Gallery Mode Biosensor Quantification of Fibronectin Adsorption Kinetics onto Alkylsilane Monolayers and Interpretation of Resultant Cellular Response” Biomaterials 33:225-236 (2012).

H. Davis, X. Guo, S. Lambert, M. Stancescu and J.J. Hickman, “Small Molecule Induction of Human Umbilical Stem Cells into MBP-Positive Oligodendrocytes in a Defined Three-Dimensional Environment,” ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 3:31-39 (2012).

X. Guo, J.E. Ayala1, M. Gonzalez, M. Stancescu, S. Lambert, J.J. Hickman, “Tissue engineering the monosynaptic circuit of the stretch reflex arc with co-culture of embryonic motoneurons and proprioceptive sensory neurons” Biomaterials, 33(23):5723-5731 (2012).

C. Long, C. Finch, M. Esch, W. Anderson, M. Shuler and J.J. Hickman, “Design Optimization of Liquid-Phase Flow Patterns for Microfabricated Lung On A Chip” Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 40(6):1255-1267 (2012).

J. Chen, L. Zhi, P. Molnar, J.J. Hickman, A. Behal, “A Weighted Least Squares Approach for Identification of a Reduced-Order Adaptive Neuronal Model” accepted to IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems (2012).

H. Davis, M. Gonzalez, N. Bhargava, M. Stancescu, J.J. Hickman, and S. Lambert, “Rat Cortical Oligodendrocyte–Embryonic Motoneuron Co-culture: An in vitro Axon-Oligodendrocyte Interaction Model,” accepted to the Journal of Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering, (2012).

S.A. Khan, V. Thakore, A. Behal, L. Bölöni and J.J. Hickman, “Comparative Analysis of System Identification Techniques for Nonlinear Modeling of the Neuron-Microelectrode Junction,” accepted to the Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanoscience, (2012).

C. Finch, T. Clarke, and J.J. Hickman, “A Continuum Hard-Sphere Model of Protein Adsorption,” accepted to the Journal of Computational Physics, (2012).

V. Thakore, P. Molnar and J.J. Hickman, “An Optimization Based Study of Equivalent Circuit Models for Representing Recordings at the Neuron-Electrode Interface,” accepted to the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (2012).

C.N. Baker, D.G. Taylor, K. Osuala, A. Natarajan, P. Molnar, J.J. Hickman, S. Alam, B. Moscato, D. Weinshenker, and S.N. Ebert, “Adrenergic Deficiency Leads to Impaired Electrical Conduction and Increased Arrhythmic Potential in the Embryonic Mouse Heart,” accepted to Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, (2012).

C. Wang, J. Reed, L. Ma, Y. Qiao, Y. Luo, S. Zou, J.J. Hickman and M. Su, “Biomimic Light Trapping Silicon Nanowire Arrays for Laser Desorption/Ionization of peptides” accepted to Journal of Physical Chemistry (2012).


A. Natarajan, M. Stancescu, V. Dhir, C. Armstrong, F. Sommerhage, J.J. Hickman and P. Molnar, "Patterned Cardiomyocytes on Microelectrode Arrays as a Functional, High Information Content Drug Screening Platform" Biomaterials 32(18):4267-4274 (2011)

K. Wilson, M. Stancescu, M. Das, J. Rumsey and J.J. Hickman, “Direct patterning of coplanar polyethylene glycol alkylsilane monolayers by deep-ultraviolet photolithography as a general method for high fidelity, long-term cell patterning and culture” JVST B 29(2):DOI:10.1116/1.3549127 10 pgs (2011).

X. Guo, M. Gonzalez, M. Stancescu, H. Vandenburgh and J.J. Hickman, “Neuromuscular Junction Formation between Human Stem cell-derived Motoneurons and Human Skeletal Muscle in a Defined System,” Biomaterials 32:9602-9611 (2011).

M. Ramalingam, P, Molnar and J.J. Hickman, “Surface Patterning of Biomaterials to Control Cell Behavior,” Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ENN) American Scientific Publishers, Valencia, California, in press.

X. Guo and J.J. Hickman. “Treatment of ALS utilizing a stem cell strategy” in Motor Neuron Diseases: Causes, Classification and Treatments, Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, New York. In press.


M.S. Ravenscroft-Chang, J. Stohlman, P. Molnar, A. Natarajan, H.E. Canavan, M. Teliska, M. Stancescu, V. Krauthamer and J.J. Hickman, "Altered Calcium Dynamics in Cardiac Cells Grown on Silane-Modified Surfaces" Biomaterials 31:602-607 (2010).

C.M. Smith, T.D. Roy, A. Bhalkikar, B. Li, J.J. Hickman and K.H. Church, "Engineering a Titanium and Polycaprolactone Construct for a Biocompatible Interface Between the Body and Artificial Limb," Tissue Engineering Part A, 16(2):717-724 (2010).

X.F. Guo, K. Johe, P. Molnar, H. Davis, J.J. Hickman, "Characterization of a Human Spinal Cord Stem Cell Line and Its Induction to Motoneurons," Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 4:181-193 (2010).

K. Varghese, P. Molnar, M. Das, N. Bhargava, S. Lambert, M.S. Kindy and J.J. Hickman, "A New Target for Amyloid Beta Toxicity Validated by Standard and High-throughput Electrophysiology," PLoS One 5(1): e8643.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008643 (2010).

M. Das, J.W. Rumsey, N. Bhargava, M. Stancescu and J.J. Hickman, "A Defined Long-Term In Vitro Tissue Engineered Model of Neuromuscular Junctions" Biomaterials 31:4880-4888 (2010).

D. Edwards, M. Das, P. Molnar and J.J. Hickman, "Addition of Glutamate to Serum Free Culture Promotes Recovery of Electrical Activity in Adult Hippocampal Neurons In Vitro" J Neuroscience Methods 190:155-163 (2010).

X. Guo, M. Das, J. Rumsey, M. Gonzalez, M. Stancescu and J.J. Hickman, "Neuromuscular Junction Formation between Human Stem Cell derived Motoneurons and Rat Skeletal Muscle in a Defined System" Tissue Engineering, Part C, 16(6):1347-1355 (2010).

N. Bhargava, M. Das, D. Edwards, M. Stancescu, J.-F. Kang and J.J. Hickman, "Coexpression of Glutamate Vesicular Transporter (VGLUT1) and Choline Acetyltransferase (ChAT) Proteins in Embryonic Rat Hippocampal Neurons in Culture" In Vitro Cell Dev Animal 46:685-692 (2010).

J.W. Rumsey, M. Das, A. Bhalkikar, M. Stancecsu and J.J. Hickman, "Tissue Engineering the Mechanosensory Circuit of the Stretch Reflex Arc: Sensory Neuron Innervation of Intrafusal Muscle Fibers" Biomaterials 31:8218-8227 (2010).

C. Wang, M. Hossain, L. Ma, Z. Ma, J.J. Hickman, M. Su, "Highly sensitive thermal detection of thrombin using aptamer-functionalized phase change nanoparticles" Biosensors & Bioelectronics 26(2):437-443 (2010).

J.C. Henderson, M. Yacopucci, C.J. Chun, K. Lenghaus and J.J. Hickman, "Investigation of the Behavior of Serum Plasma in a Microfluidics System," JVST B 28(5):1066-1069 (2010).

M. Ramalingam, P, Molnar and J.J. Hickman, "Surface Patterning of Biomaterials to Control Cell Behavior," Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ENN) American Scientific Publishers, Valencia, California, in press.

M. Ramalingam, S.S. Liao, S. Ramakrishna, P. Molnar, Z.M. Huang, M. Kotaki, K. Panduranga Rao and J.J. Hickman, "Skeletal Regeneration Nanobiomaterials," in Biomaterials for Bone Regenerative Medicine, TTP Publishers, Swiss/USA, in press.

H. Davis, X. Guo, S. Lambert, M. Stancescu and J.J. Hickman, "Small Molecule Induction of Human Umbilical Stem Cells into MBP-positive Oligodendrocytes in a Defined Three-Dimensional Environment" (submitted to Nature Biotechnology).


K. Varghese, M. Das, N. Bhargava, P. Molnar, M.S. Kindy and J.J. Hickman, "Regeneration and characterization of adult mouse hippocampal neurons in a defined in vitro system," Journal of Neuroscience Methods 177:51-50 (2009).

M. Ramalingam, P. Molnar, K. P. Rao and J.J. Hickman, "Biomaterial Surface patterning utilizing self assembled monolayers to control neuronal cell behavior", International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Review 2(2):104 - 134 (2009).

J.W. Rumsey, M. Das, M. Stancescu, M. Bott, C. Fernandez-Valle and J.J. Hickman, "Node of Ranvier formation on motoneurons in vitro" Biomaterials 30:3567-3572 (2009).

T. Xu, P, Molnar, C. Gregory, M. Das, T. Boland and J.J. Hickman, "Electrophysiological Characterization of Embryonic Hippocampal Neurons Cultured in 3D Collagen Hydrogel," Biomaterials 30:4377-4383 (2009).

M. Das, J. W. Rumsey, N. Bhargava, M. Stancescu and J.J. Hickman, "Skeletal Muscle Tissue Engineering: An Improved Model Promoting Long Term Survival of Myotubes, Structural Development of E-C Coupling Apparatus and Neonatal Myosin Heavy Chain (MHC) Expression," Biomaterials 30:5392-5402 (2009).

M. Das, J.W. Rumsey, N. Bhargava, C. Gregory, L. Riedel, J.F. Kang, J.J. Hickman, "Developing a Novel Serum-Free Cell Culture Model of Skeletal Muscle Differentiation by Systematically Studying the Role of Different Growth Factors in Myotube Formation," In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Animal 45:378-387 (2009).

N. Akanda, M. Stancescu, P. Molnar and J.J. Hickman, "Analysis of Toxin Induced Changes in Action Potential Shape for Drug Development," Journal of Biomolecular Screening 14(10):1228-1235 (2009).

N. Bhargava, M. Das, A. S. Karakoti, S. Patil, J.F. Kang, M. Stancescu, M. S. Kindy, S. Seal and J.J. Hickman, "Regeneration of Adult Mice Motoneurons Utilizing a Defined System and Anti-oxidant Nanoparticles," Journal of Nanoneuroscience 1(2):130-143 (2009).

D.G. Taylor, A. Natarajan, B. Moscato, P. Molnar, J.J. Hickman, S.N. Ebert, "Adrenergic Deficiency Leads to Slowed Ventricular Conduction and Increased Arrhythmias in Embryonic Mouse Hearts" Circulation 120(18):S616 (2009).


M. Ramalingam, P, Molnar and J.J. Hickman, "Nano-Surface Patterning Techniques for Cell Studies," Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ENN) American Scientific Publishers, Valencia, California, (2008)

M. Ramalingam, S. Ramakrishna and J.J. Hickman, "Cell Responsive Nano-fibrous Materials for Tissue Engineering," in Encyclopedia of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, American Scientific Publishers, Ed. Hari Singh Nalwa, Valencia, California. (2008)

M. Das, N. Bhargava, A. Bhalkikar, J. F. Kang and J.J. Hickman, "Temporal Neurotransmitter Conditioning Restores the Functional Activity of Adult Spinal-Cord Neurons in Long-Term Culture" Experimental Neurology 209:171-180 (2008).

J. W. Rumsey, M. Das, J. F. Kang, R. Wagner, P. Molnar and J.J. Hickman, "Tissue Engineering Intrafusal Fibers: Dose and Time Dependent Differentiation of Nuclear Bag Fibers in a Defined In Vitro System using Neuregulin 1-β-1" Biomaterials 29:994-1104 (2008).

J. Liu, J.W. Rumsey, P. Molnar, M. Das, C. Gregory, L. Riedel and J.J. Hickman, "Electrophysiological and Immunocytochemical Characterization of DRG Neurons on an Organosilane Surface in Serum Free Medium" In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology 44:162-168 (2008)

J. Rolland, K-S. Lee, A. Mahmood, L. Fluck, J. Duarte, I. Kaya, A. Santhanam, P. Meemon, S. Murali, O. Ilegbusi, P. Kupelian, A.M. Kachurin, W.L. Warren, P. Molnar, J.J. Hickman and P.K. Kolattukudy, Eds J.D. Westwood, R.S. Haluck, H.M.Hoffman, G.T. Mogel, R. Phillips, R.A. Robb, K.G. Vosburgh, "Collaborative Engineering: 3-D Optical Imaging and Gas Exchange Simulation of In-Vitro Alveolar Constructs", in Studies in Health Technolology Informatics 132:426-432 (2008).

A. Natarajan, C.J. Chun, J.J. Hickman and P. Molnar, "Growth and Electrophysiological Properties of Rat Embryonic Cardiomyocytes on Hydroxyl- and Carboxyl-Modified Surfaces," Journal of Biomaterials Science: Polymer Edition 19(10):1319-1331 (2008).

V. Thakore, A. Behal, P. Molnar, D.C. Leistritz, and J.J. Hickman, "Nanoscale Nonlinear Dynamic Characterization of the Neuron-Electrode Junction" J. Comput. Theor. Nanosci. 5(11):2164-2169 (2008).

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