Tissue Pharmacology for HIV and Related Infections


The Nicol research lab efforts are focused on identifying factors that influence the efficacy of antivirals (and other anti-infectives) in tissue compartments.

We are working to describe the penetration of drugs used to treat HIV and related infections into tissue compartments such as the genitals, brain, and lymph tissue. There is a paucity of data on the factors that modulate drug efficacy in tissue compartments yet drug distribution to these tissues is critically important for HIV prophylaxis, suppression of viral shedding, and eradication of viral reservoirs.

Our translational lab uses a variety of research approaches with projects spanning in vitro, ex vivo, and clinical studies. We have active studies in both Minnesota as well as Kampala, Uganda. 

translational pharmacology approaches


Research Projects

Ex-vivo Models for HIV Prevention

Model systems that rapidly identify tissue drug concentrations protective of HIV infection could streamline the development of chemoprevention strategies. The human tissue explant model system is a non-invasive approach to evaluate concentration-response relationships in cervical tissues.  Read more

Modifiers of Drug Exposure in the Female Genital Tract

Women represent half of the global HIV epidemic and yet there are few effective prevention options available for them. Host factors such as inflammation, hormones, and vaginal microbiome may modulate the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies in women. This project seeks to explore the associations between these host factors and drug activity in the female genital tract to improve the development of future prevention strategies.  Read more

Anti-infective Penetration Into the Brain

It is unknown whether drugs being used to treat HIV and HIV-related infections are able to adequately reach areas of the brain where these pathogens reside. Our approach uses brain tissues collected during autopsy from individuals who pass away while receiving anti-HIV, antifungal, or anti-tuberculosis therapy to quantify and localize drug exposure within the brain. Findings will be used to improve therapies and develop curative strategies for HIV and infectious meningitis.  Read more

News and Events

Third year graduate student Fan Wang participated in the College of Pharmacy 3-Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition. She competed with 13 other graduate students from across the College. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 4:15pm

Dr. Nicol, along with colleagues from University of Minnesota and University of Michican, recently publised a review on how genetics could impact therapies being tested for Covid-19 treatment.

See Research Brief here-https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/how-genetics-could-impact-covid-...

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 6:15pm

Melanie Nicol presented findings from the Nicol Lab at the 9th International Workshop on HIV and Women. Her presentation "Vaginal microbiome is associated with tenofovir diphosphate and lamivudine triphosphate in cervical tissues of Ugandan women" was selected as an oral abstract.

Saturday, March 9, 2019 - 5:30pm

An op-ed by Melanie Nicol was recently published in MinnPost addressing the continued need for more awareness and research to the HIV epidemic in women.


Thursday, December 13, 2018 - 2:00pm

An Le CTSIAn Le, PD3 student and 2018 Summer Melendy scholar, presented his research project "The role of MRP4 transporter in antiviral agents' disposition in the female genital tract" at the 2018 CTSI Poster Show on Sept 12. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018 - 9:00pm


Lab Group Pictures

  • Lindsey Collins presents poster at HIV R4P 2018 in Madrid
  • Lab Group Picture December 2018
  • Nicol/Hirsch Lab Cookout Fall 2018
  • Nicol lab at ECP picnic summer 2017
  • PD4 student Amy Tran presents her poster at ACCP 2017
    ACCP Poster Presentation
  • MN AIDS Walk 2018

UMN Pharmacy in Uganda Blog

Follow our Pharmacy in Uganda Blog: An academic's journey in Pharmacy Research, Practice, and Education in Uganda


International Research Collaboration