Louise Hecker

Assistant professor

Tucson, AZ


My broad research background and training has been rooted in regenerative biology, with experience in development, tissue engineering, and mechanisms of injury-repair. We previously identified a novel role for NADPH oxidase-4 (Nox4), an oxidant-generating enzyme, in mediating myofibroblast functions and scar tissue formation (fibrosis), published in Nature Medicine. Since this discovery, my research interests have expanded to include understanding the role of aging/senescence in lung injury-repair responses. My current research interests also encompass translational aspects, including drug discovery for Nox4 and the development of novel preclinical animal models for pulmonary fibrosis and acute lung injury.


Area of Interest

1) Lung Fibroblast biology
2) Aging/senescence
3) preclinical models of lung injury-repair (lung fibrosis and acute lung injury)

top publication

1. Hecker L, Sessions SK. 2001. Development Analysis of Limb Deformities in mphibians. Bios 72(1):9-13.*National Biological Honor Society McClung Award – most outstanding student research publication in 2001
2. Hecker L. Majoring in Biology Just Isn’t Enough. 2002. 73(2):66-67. Bios.3.Stopper GF, Hecker L, Franssen RA, Sessions SK. How trematodes cause limb deformities in amphibians. J Exp Zool 2002;294:252-6
3.*Featured on the cover of October 2002 issue
4. Hecker L, Madison DM, Dapson RW, Holzherr V. Presence of modified serous glands in the caudal integument of the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). J Herpetol 2003;37:732-6.
5. Hecker L, Baar K, Dennis RG, Bitar KN. Development of a three dimensional physiological model of the internal anal sphincter bioengineered in vitro from isolated smooth muscle cells. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2005;289:G188-96.
6. Hecker L, Birla RK. Engineering the heart piece by piece: state of the art in cardiac tissue engineering. Regen Med 2007;2:125-44.
7. Hecker L, and R. Birla. Intangible Factors Leading to Success in research: Strategy, Innovation, and Leadership. 2008, 1 (1) 85-92. Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research.
8. Hecker L, Khait L, Welsh MJ, Birla R. Bioengineering functional human aortic vascular smooth-muscle strips in vitro. Biotechnol Appl Biochem 2008;50:155-63.
9. Khait L, Hecker L, Radnoti D, Birla R. Micro-perfusion for cardiac tissue engineering: development of a bench-top system for the culture of primary cardiac cells. Ann Biomed Eng 2008;36:713-25.
10. Hecker L, Khait L, Radnoti D, Birla R. Development of microperfusion system for the culture of bioengineered heart muscle. ASAIO J 2008;54:284-94.
11. Khait L, Hecker L, Blan N, Coyan G, Migneco F, Huang Y, Birla R. Getting to the Heart of Tissue Engineering. J. Cardiovascular Translational Research 2008;1:71-84.
12. Hecker L, Khait L, Sessions SK, Birla RK. Functional evaluation of isolated zebrafish hearts. Zebrafish 2008;5:319-22.
13. Hecker L, Khait L, Radnoti D, Birla R. Novel bench-top perfusion system improves functional performance of bioengineered heart muscle. J Biosci Bioeng 2009; 107:183-90.
14. Hecker L, and R. Birla. The Value of Integrating Policy People and Space in Research. 2009, 2 (1) 93-99. Journal of Cardiovascular and Translational Research.
15. Griffith B, Pendyala S, Hecker L, Lee PJ, Natarajan V, Thannickal VJ. NOX Enzymes and Pulmonary Disease. Antioxid Redox Signal 2009; 10:2505-16.
16. Hecker L, Vittal R, Jones T, Jagirdar R, Luckhardt TR, Horowitz JC, Pennathur S, Martinez FJ, Thannickal VJ. NADPH oxidase-4 mediates myofibroblast activation and fibrogenic responses to lung injury. Nat Med 2009; 15:1077-82.*Research Highlight: Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. Fibrotic disease: A pair of novel targets. 2009; 8:773.
17. Hecker L and Thannickal VJ. Nonresolving Fibrotic Disorders: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis as a Paradigm of Impaired Tissue Regeneration. Am J. Med. Sci. 2011. 341:431-434.
18. Ding, Q, Luckhardt, T, Hecker L, Zhou, Y, Liu, G, Antony, V, DeAndrade, J and Thannickal, VJ. New Insights into the Pathogenesis and Treatment of IPF: An Update. Drugs. 2011. 71:981-1001.
19. Hecker L, Jagirdar R., Jin TJ, Thannickal VJ. Reversible Differentiation of Myofibroblasts by MyoD. Exp Cell Res. 2011. 317:1914-1921. *Selected by Faculty of 1000 – Top 2% of articles published in biology and medicine
20. Hecker L, Cheng, J., and Thannickal VJ. Targeting NOX Enzymes in Pulmonary Fibrosis. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 2012. 69: 2365-2371.
21. Zhou, Y, Huang, Y., Hecker L, Kurundkar, D, Kurundkar, A, Liu, H, Jin, T, Desai, L, Bernard, K, and Thannickal, VJ. Inhibition of mechanosensitive signaling in myofibroblasts ameliorates experimental pulmonary fibrosis. J Clin Invest. 2013. 123: 1096-108.
22. Sanders YY, Liu H, Zhang X, Hecker L, Bernard K, Desai L, Liu G, Thannickal VJ. Histone Modifications in Senescence-Associated Resistance to Apoptosis by Oxidative Stress. Redox Biology 2013; 1:8-16.
23. Bernard K, Hecker L, Luckhardt TR, Cheng G, Thannickal VJ. NADPH Oxidases in Lung Health and Disease. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2014. 20(17): 2838-53.
24. Hecker L, Logsdon, N, Kurundkar, D, Kurundkar, A, Bernard, K, Hock, T, Crowe, D, Sanders, Y, Thannickal, VJ. Restoration of Nox4-Nrf2 Redox Balance Modulates yofibroblast Senescence and Promotes Fibrosis Resolution in Aging. Science Translational Medicine.2014; 6:231-47. *Featured on the cover of April 9th 2014 issue**Research Highlight: Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. Resetting the redox balance in lung fibrosis. 2014; 13:415.
25. Murphy, K, Logsdon, N, Sessions, S, Hecker L. Secreted Factor(s) from Young Cells Restores Susceptibility to Cell Death in Senescent Myofibroblasts. Bios. 2014. 85(4):218-223.