Robert Nichols, PhD

Robert A. Nichols, PhD

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Associate Member, Cancer Biology Program, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Professor, Cell and Molecular Biology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

PhD, Neuroscience, Stanford University
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Neuropharmacology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Neuropharmacology, Rockefeller University, New York, NY

Research Focus

I have had an active, independent research program since 1990, as a medical school faculty member. I have been able to maintain support of this research program through various sources of funding, including R-level NIH grants. The primary focus of my research revolves around synaptic regulation, an area in which I have published consistently for over 25 years. Much of the work has involved complementary in vitro and in vivo approaches. For the last 15 years, I have connected our research on synaptic regulation to Alzheimer's disease. Recently, I have turned to investigating the neuropathological events underlying the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease and have promising leads on possible translational applications.

I have also been involved with program and grant administration at a number of levels over the course of my career. I served as a graduate program director for over 10 years. I served as the director for a number of graduate courses for over 20 years. I served as the Director of a Specialized Neuroscience Research Program (U54) at the University of Hawaiʻi. I also served as the Program Director for a Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) grant (G12) at the University of Hawaiʻi. I also serve as Core Director under the RCMI G12 grant. I am now the Principal Investigator of our IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) grant (P20), the Hawaiʻi Statewide Research and Education Partnership, which is devoted to fostering biomedical research across the state from the undergraduate level though to entry-level junior faculty. In addition to these administrative duties, I review each year a substantial number of grant applications as part of several review committees and a large number of biomedical journal articles as both an ad hoc reviewer and editorial board member (Reviewing Editor: Journal of Biological Chemistry).

Selected Publications

Arora K, Cheng J, Nichols RA. (2015). Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Sensitize a MAPK-Linked Toxicity Pathway on Prolonged Exposure to β-Amyloid. J Biol Chem, Jul 2; 290(35):21409-21420. PubMed PMID: 26139609.

Lawrence JL, Tong M, Alfulaij N, Sherrin T, Contarino M, White MM, Bellinger FP, Todorovic C, Nichols RA. (2014). Regulation of presynaptic Ca2+, synaptic plasticity and contextual fear conditioning by a N-terminal β-amyloid fragment. [Featured article] J Neurosci, Oct 22; 34(43):14210-14218. PubMed PMID: 25339735; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4205547.

Arora K, Alfulaij N, Higa JK, Panee J, Nichols RA. (2013). Impact of sustained exposure to β-amyloid on calcium homeostasis and neuronal integrity in model nerve cell system expressing α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. J Biol Chem,Apr 19; 288(16):11175-11190. PubMed PMID: 23479730; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3630845.

Tong M, Arora K, White MM, Nichols RA. (2011). Role of key aromatic residues in the ligand-binding domain of alpha7 nicotinic receptors in the agonist action of beta-amyloid. J Biol Chem,Sep 30; 286(39):34373-34381. PubMed PMID: 21828053; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3190827.

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