Nikki L. Jernigan, Ph.D.

MSC08 4750
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Biomedical Sciences Facility

Phone: (505) 925-4493
Fax: (505) 272-6649

Nikki Jernigan, PhD

Research Interests

Our laboratory studies the physiology and pathophysiology of the pulmonary vasculature.  In particular, we are interested in alteration of vascular smooth muscle Ca2+ handling and signal transduction that occur with pulmonary hypertension.  We utilize animal models of pulmonary hypertension that mimic many of the cardiopulmonary changes observed in chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), including right ventricular hypertrophy, pulmonary hypertension, arterial remodeling, and polycythemia.  Our current focus is on an unique class of voltage-insensitive, non-selective cation channels, epithelial Na+ channels (ENaC) and acid sensing ion channels (ASIC).  Members of the ENaC/ASIC family have only recently been identified in vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells.  Our goal is to understand the function of these ion channels in the pulmonary vasculature and their role in lung diseases.  We employ a number of integrated approaches enabling us to study vascular reactivity at multiple levels, including the study of conscious, chronically instrumented animals, isolated organs and pressurized resistance vessels, intracellular calcium imaging, electrophysiological measurements, and molecular and cellular assays.

Recent Publications

Education and Professional Experience

B.S., Biology, University of New Mexico
Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences (Physiology), University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Instructor, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Research Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine


Giles Filley Memorial Award for Excellence in Respiratory Physiology and Medicine
Respiration Section Young Investigator Research Recognition Award
Parker B. Francis Fellowship in Pulmonary Research
Microcirculatory Society: August Krogh Young Investigator Travel Award
NIH/NHLBI Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship
American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, Southeast Affiliate
APS/NIDDK Minority Travel Fellowship Awards

Current Lab Personnel

Lindsay Herbert, Research Technician
Carlos Nitta, Research Technician
Danielle Plomaritas, Graduate Research Assistant