James J. Hickman, Ph.D.
NanoScience Technology Center, Chemistry, Biomolecular Science and Electrical Engineering
University of Central Florida
The Hickman lab is a multidisciplinary team composed of cell biologists, surface chemists, and engineers. We employ experts in cell culture and molecular biology to assess the functional performance of human cell types in defined in vitro environments. Engineers and surface chemists, with expertise in BioMEMS fabrication and surface modification, work to generate the platforms used in assessment of cellular activity and maturation. Combined expertise in the areas of microscale fabrication, surface modification and cell biology allow us to pursue cutting edge experimental research in the development of novel functional assays for drug development and disease modeling applications.
Supporting our extensive experimental work, Dr. Hickman encourages theoretical exploration of problems that arise during development of these novel systems. A broad and extensive understanding of what constitutes state-of-the-art in the field of bioengineering and drug discovery allows us to push towards the next step in development of these models. New theories and hypotheses are consistently being developed based on our understanding of what is possible using these microscale technologies.
Theoretical and experimental sciences are connected through mathematical simulation at the Hickman lab. Flow rates and shear stresses in microfluidic devices are carefully modeled prior to experimental analysis to ensure the best chances of success when physical testing begins. Advanced computational analyses of neuron-electrode interfaces have revealed new dynamics about how cells behave in such environments, and have been instrumental in furthering our understanding of neuronal maturation and functional performance in vitro.