We focus on the study of Muscle Stem Cell Biology in the fields of Development and Disease.
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer a powerful model to study human development in vivo. HPSCs expand indefinitely and can be genetically modified in manners that improve engraftment potential, through modulating cell competition, survival, and niche formation. Recapitulating the complexity of skeletal myogenesis in vitro from hPSCs has presented numerous challenges for the field and my lab seeks to continue to improve directed differentiation of hPSCs to skeletal muscle.
"Skeletal muscle is one of the most regenerative tissues in the body due to the endogenous muscle stem cells called satellite cells."
The stem cells of highly regenerative tissues associate with and are located in specialize compartments termed niches. Muscle stem cell niches are comprised of the myofiber sarcolemma and a laminin rich basal lamina containing dynamic ligand-receptor parts that support the stem cell. My work seeks to identify how emerging niches form and provide a new model for understanding human stem cell niche formation. Evaluating the regulators of emerging human niche formation during regeneration and development will improve our ability to generate de novo human niches and better support human muscle stem cells in vivo for cell therapy.
"Supporting skeletal muscle stem cells through interactions with the stem cell niche and microenvironment in development and disease."
My lab seeks to apply technology advancements in single cell biology, lineage tracing, imaging, and molecular biology to improve myogenesis from skeletal muscle stem cells.
"We are using emerging technologies including lineage tracing, single-cell biology, and molecular engineering to improve our understanding of muscle stem cells and cell transplantation."
In muscle wasting diseases such as DMD, the endogenous satellite cells become exhausted over time and get replaced by fat and fibrotic tissue. The ability to generate an efficient protocol for producing skeletal muscle from PSCs provides a unique in vitro model for improving our understanding of the consequences of dystrophin loss in human skeletal muscle.
"“We are particularly interested in the microenvironment and how stem cell niches form and can be used to Improve personalized cell+gene therapies for neuromuscular diseases.” "
Dr. Michael Hicks joined UC Irvine and the Stem Cell Research Center as an assistant professor in 2020. Dr. Hicks received his PhD in 2014 with Dr. Paul Standley at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, studying how connective tissue fibroblasts and mechanical strain influenced skeletal muscle regeneration. Dr. Hicks did his postdoctoral research at UCLA with Dr. April Pyle where he was the first to define the developmental and functional identify of skeletal muscle cells generated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs).
Looking for an exciting career in a quickly evolving field of research? Contact us today for more information about our research or working with Hicks Laboratory.VIEW AVAILABLE POSITIONS
Training: Cal State Long Beach, UC Irvine
Research: Stem cell fate decisions, ERBB3/EGFR signaling, Neuromuscular formation
Training: Cal Poly Pomona, Salk Institute
Research: Stem cell niche formation, CRISPR/Cas9 engineering, MuscleMatchR
Senior Research Associate 1
Training: UC Irvine, Neurobiology
Focus: Lab Management, Neuromuscular Disorders, Gene Editing
Training: UC Irvine, Genetics
Focus: Rotator Cuff Pathology
Training: UC Irvine, Biology
Focus: SC Niches, Plasmid Design
Training: UC Irvine, Biology
Focus: 3D Bioprinting, Organoids
Now at Nutcracker Therapeautics in San Francisco, CA.