Thomas Nieland's research focuses on developing novel tissue engineering approaches to elucidate the molecular pathways and cellular and neural circuit defects that cause psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.
He has published over 25 manuscripts in journals including Cell, Science, and Nature, and received grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, and other organizations.
Neurodegenerative disorders are poised to become an epidemic if the ability to diagnose, target, repair, or regenerate the human brain is not greatly improved upon. Current pharmacological therapies have limited effects or do not exist for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or for psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. By developing 3-D brain disease models that faithfully reproduce the cellular composition (such as neuronal subtypes, astrocytes, microglia), connectivity, 3-dimensional architecture, and function of human neural circuits, Thomas Nieland aims to identify disease mechanisms, biomarkers, and therapies for patients. His multidisciplinary approach integrates bioengineering, material science, organoids, optogenetics, electrophysiology, and stem cell biology with genetics, high-throughput drug discovery and functional genomics, systems biology, and bioinformatics.