Timothy M. Wick


Professor and Chair
Department of Biomedical Engineering


BioMatrix Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Center


Ph.D., Rice University - 1988


Dr. Wick served on the faculty in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology from 1988-2005. He joined the faculty at UAB in July 2005 as chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department.

Research Interest

Dr. Wick’s research interests are in development of bioreactors and bioprocesses for tissue engineering and development of flow systems to characterize blood cell adhesion to endothelial cells and biomaterials. In tissue engineering, his expertise ranges from fundamental studies of tissue development to bioprocessing for large-scale tissue production. Tissues are complex three-dimensional structures that perform multiple metabolic and mechanical functions. Proper tissue function in vivo requires that tissue architecture and differentiated function be replicated prior to implantation. As tissue engineering transitions from bench scale research to large scale production of tissue for human therapy, bioreactor technology and bioprocess engineering principles are necessary to facilitate large-scale, aseptic growth of functional tissues to meet patient demand. His research group has developed novel bioreactors that deliver well-defined spatial and temporal nutrient transport and mechanical loading to produce tissues with correct biochemical and mechanical characteristics for human implantation, focusing on cartilage and arteries as model tissues. A long-term goal of his research is integration of bioreactor expertise with bioprocessing technology to facilitate development of large-scale manufacture processes for tissue production. For cell adhesion studies his group has developed sophisticated systems to identify receptors and ligands that promote blood cell adherence to endothelial cells under physiological flow conditions. This information coupled with quantitative measures of adhesion dynamics and biophysics provides understanding of how blood cell adhesion disrupts tissue blood flow in sickle cell anemia and other diseases. His research has identified compounds that block adhesion and could lead to new patient therapies.

Current Research

Current research interests include development of novel bioreactors to produce tissues with the correct biochemical and mechanical characteristics for human implantation, focusing on cartilage and arteries as model tissues. Our studies have identified mechanical loading, oxygen tension, steroid hormones, and matrix composition as key factors that control tissue growth and maturation. Our combined experimental and numerical approach to development of tissue engineered constructs and enabling bioreactor technologies will result in industrial bioprocesses to engineer human tissue in a reproducible manner on an industrially relevant scale.

Recent Publications

1. Brown, M.D., T.M. Wick, and J.R. Eckman, “Activation of Vascular Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule Expression by Sickle Blood Cells”, Pediatric Pathology & Molecular Medicine, 20:47-72 (2001).

2. Williams, K.A., S. Saini and T.M. Wick, “Computational Investigation of Steady-State Momentum and Mass Transfer in a Bioreactor for the Production of Tissue-Engineered Cartilage”, Biotechnology Progress 18:951-963 (2002).

3. Montes, R.A.O., J.R. Eckman, L.L. Hsu, and T.M. Wick, “Abnormal Adherence of Sickle Erythrocytes to Endothelium at Low Shear: The Role of Erythrostasis in Propagating Vaso-Occlusion”, American Journal of Hematology, 70:216-227 (2002).

4. Saini, S. and T.M. Wick, “Concentric Cylinder Bioreactor for Production of Tissue Engineered Cartilage: Effect of Seeding Density and Hydrodynamic Loading on Construct Development”, Biotechnology Progress 19:510-521 (2003).

5. Walmet, P.A., J.R. Eckman and T.M. Wick, “Inflammatory Mediators Promote Strong Sickle Cell Adherence to Endothelium under Venular Flow Conditions”, American Journal of Hematology, 73(3):215-224 (2003).

6. Saini, S. and T.M. Wick, “Effect of Low Oxygen Tension on Tissue Engineered Cartilage Construct Development in the Concentric Cylinder Bioreactor”, Tissue Engineering, 10(5/6):825-832 (2004).

7. Williams, C. and T.M. Wick, “Perfusion Bioreactor for Small Diameter Tissue-Engineered Arteries”, Tissue Engineering 10(5/6):930-941 (2004).

8. Wagner, M.C., J.R. Eckman and T.M. Wick, “Sickle Cell Adhesion Depends on Hemodynamics and Endothelial Activation”, The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 144(5):260-267 (2004).

9. Williams, C. and T.M.Wick, "Endothelial Cell-Smooth Muscle Cell Co-Culture in a Perfusion Bioreactor System", Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 33(7):928-936 (2005)

10. Wagner, M.C., J.R. Eckman, and T.M. Wick, “Histamine Increases Sickle Erythrocyte Adherence to Endothelium.” British Journal of Haematology, 132:512-522 (2006).

Research Accomplishments and Plan