Michael Hicks, Ph.D.

Michael Hicks, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor


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). Dr. Hicks is an advocate for muscle disease research and has received research grants through Eli and Edythe Broad Stem Cell Center and Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy to develop therapeutic avenues for muscle diseases. Dr. Hicks has received many awards including the Boyer/Parvin Research Award, the Lymn Foundation Early Investigator Award and the Sydney Finegold Award for Excellence in Research.

Research in Lay Terms

Skeletal muscle is one of the most regenerative tissues in the body due to the endogenous muscle stem cells called satellite cells. Understanding how to generate satellite cells from human pluripotent stem cells would enable an unlimited source of cells for personalized therapies for many devastating neuromuscular diseases. However, generating, expanding, and supporting muscle stem cells and lineages made from pluripotent stem cells remains a challenge. 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. We are particularly interested in the microenvironment and how stem cell niches form and can be used to support muscle stem cells during regeneration to enable new cell, molecular, and gene therapies for muscle wasting diseases.

Research Focus

  • Understanding the origins of skeletal muscle stem cells using human pluripotent stem cells.
  • Supporting skeletal muscle stem cells through interactions with the stem cell niche and microenvironment in development and disease.
  • Improving personalized cell+gene therapies for neuromuscular diseases.
  • Utilize emerging technologies to study and improve regeneration.

PubMed Link



Email: mrhicks1@uci.edu 
Phone: (949) 824-5957

Department Affiliations:
Physiology & Biophysics
Favorite Movie:
Point Break
Favorite Quote:
“What we do in life echoes an eternity” - Gladiator