Assistant Professor, Medicine
Research Investigator, Southern Arizona VA Health Care Systems
BA: Hartwick College - Oneonta, Biology, 2000
MA: Binghamton University, Biological Sciences, 2002
MS: University of Michigan, Cell and Developmental Biology, 2007
PhD: University of Michigan, Applied Physics, 2008
McClung Award, Biological Honor Society, 2001
Young Alumni Award, Hartwick College, 2006
Participant, Birmingham Venture Club's Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, 2009
Semi-finalist, Alabama Launchpad (Governor’s statewide Business Plan Competition), 2011
Top-five finalist, Alabama Launchpad (Governor’s statewide Business Plan Competition), 2012
Affiliate, American Thoracic Society
Affiliate, Arizona Center on Aging
Dr. Hecker's research background and training are rooted in regenerative biology and investigating mechanisms of tissue injury-repair. Regenerative biology studies the molecular and cellular processes by which tissues and organs renew or repair themselves. However, the normal healing and repair process becomes less efficient as we age. Dr. Hecker’s research is focused on understanding why this process "goes awry" in aging and identifying novel pathways that can be targeted to reverse age-associated diseases, such as Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Research by Dr. Hecker and her colleagues at UAB identified a novel role for NADPH oxidase-4, or Nox4, an oxidant-generating enzyme that plays a critical role in the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the lung (results were published in Nature Medicine in 2009). Dr. Hecker’s ongoing research involves discovering new drug candidates to target Nox4 and preclinical testing of novel therapies aimed to treat IPF. She is founder and chief scientific officer of Regenerative Solutions, LLC, a contract research organization that provides highly specialized preclinical testing services for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies with drug development platforms in pulmonary fibrosis. She is principal investigator on a study, “Aging, Fibroblast Senescence, and Apoptosis in Lung Fibrosis,” funded through June 2017 by a nearly $1 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (1 IK2 BX001477-01A1).
Palumbo, S., Shin, Y. J., Ahmad, K., Desai, A. A., Quijada, H., Mohamed, M., Knox, A., Sammani, S., Colson, B. A., Wang, T., Garcia, J. G., & Hecker, L. (2017). Dysregulated Nox4 ubiquitination contributes to redox imbalance and age-related severity of acute lung injury. American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology, ajplung.00305.2016.
Hecker, L., Khait, L., Radnoti, D., & Birla, R. (2016). Development of a microperfusion system for the culture of bioengineered heart muscle. ASAIO journal (American Society for Artificial Internal Organs : 1992), 54(3), 284-94.
Mohamad Mohamad, 2015, 2016; "Pulmonary Research", "Identification of Novel Drug Candidates for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)"