James W. Hicks

Picture of James W. Hicks
Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, 1984, Biomedical Sciences
Phone: (949) 824-6386
Fax: (949) 824-2095
Email: jhicks@uci.edu
University of California, Irvine

Mail Code: 2525
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Oxygen transport, comparative and evolutionary approaches, modelling physiological systems
Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, Dept of Physiology, Gottingen, Germany 1984-1985
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Physiological Research Laboratory, 1985-1987
Research Abstract
As a broadly trained, integrative physiologist, my research efforts include; understanding the mechanism(s), regulation and functional significance of intracardiac shunting in "lower vertebrates", investigating the factors that determine and regulate the cardiopulmonary response to elevated metabolism, investigating the ontogeny of cardiovascular regulation, studying acclimatization to hypoxia, investigating the effects of gravity on the vertebrate cardiovascular system and my recent work on traumatic brain injury in athletes. Overall, my research focuses on vertebrates and spans several groups (from fish to humans) providing a unique evolutionary perspective into circulation and respiration and seeks to discover not only differences among organisms, but the unifying principles shared by diverse organisms.

I believe that it is important to articulate the power of comparative and evolutionary physiology and to point out that these approaches are not mutually exclusive to biomedical sciences. Comparative physiology, at its most basic level, seeks to discover how animals work, and, most importantly, why animals work the way they do. These two seemingly straightforward questions have far-reaching implications and require a variety of investigative approaches. The comparative physiologist is challenged to determine the details of physiological mechanisms while simultaneously gaining insights into ultimate causation, i.e. the evolutionary or adaptive significance of a physiological process or trait. This manifold focus on proximal mechanism and ultimate causality requires that comparative and evolutionary physiologists bring to their investigations a diversity of analytical approaches and to effectively integrate molecular, cellular, organismal, morphological, biomechanical, biophysical, ecological and evolutionary information.
Awards and Honors
2008-Elected Fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science

2012-August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship, American Physiological Society

2012- Honorary Doctorate- University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark

2015- Fellow of the American Physiological Society

2019- Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences
Monroe, D.C., Thomas, E.A., Cecchi, N.J. Granger, DA, Hicks, JW and Small SL (2022). Salivary S100 calcium-binding protein beta (S100B) and neurofilament light (NfL) after acute exposure to repeated head impacts in collegiate water polo players. Sci Rep 12, 3439 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-07241-0
Hicks, JW and Wang T (2021) Safety factors as a ‘design’ principle of animal form and function: an historical perspective. J. Exp. Bio. 224, jeb243324. doi:10.1242/jeb.243324
Hicks JW, Wang T. (2021) Arterial blood gases during maximum metabolic demands: Patterns across the vertebrate spectrum. Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2021 Apr;254:110888. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2020.110888
Cecchi, NJ; Monroe, DC; Phreaner, JJ; Small, SL; Hicks, JW (2020) Patterns of head impact exposure in men's and women's collegiate club water polo JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND MEDICINE IN SPORT Volume: 23 Issue: 10 Pages: 927-931 DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2020.03.008
Cecchi, NJ; Monroe, DC; Moscoso, WX; Hicks, JW; Reinkensmeyer, DJ (2020) E!ects of soccer ball inflation pressure and velocity on peak linear and rotational accelerations of ball-to-head impacts SPORTS ENGINEERING Volume: 23 Issue: 1 Article Number: 16 DOI: 10.1007/s12283-020-00331-0
Cecchi, NJ; Monroe, DC; Oros, TJ; Small, SL; Hicks, JW (2020) Laboratory evaluation of a wearable head impact sensor for use in water polo and land sports PROCEEDINGS OF THE INSTITUTION OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS PART P-JOURNAL OF SPORTS ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY Volume: 234 Issue: 2 Pages: 162-169 Article Number: UNSP 1754337120901974 DOI: 10.1177/1754337120901974
Smith, B ; Crossley, JL; Elsey, RM; Hicks, JW; Crossley, DA (2019) Embryonic developmental oxygen preconditions cardiovascular functional response to acute hypoxic exposure and maximal beta-adrenergic stimulation of anesthetized juvenile American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY Volume: 222 Issue: 21 Article Number: jeb205419 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.205419
Dunn, CE; Monroe, DC; Crouzet, C; Hicks, JW; Choi, B (2019) Speckleplethysmographic (SPG) Estimation of Heart Rate Variability During an Orthostatic Challenge SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Volume: 9 Article Number: 14079 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-50526-0
Lind, Abigail L.; Lai, Yvonne Y. Y.; Mostovoy, Yulia; et al. (2019) Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards. NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION Volume: 3 Issue: 8 Pages: 1241-+ Published: AUG 2019
Cecchi NJ, Monroe DC , Fote GM, Small SL, Hicks JW (2019) Head impacts sustained by male collegiate water polo athletes. PLoS One. 2019 May 2;14(5):e0216369. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216369. eCollection 2019.
Wang T, Joyce W, Hicks JW (2019) Similitude in the cardiorespiratory responses to exercise across vertebrates, Current Opinion in Physiology Volume 10, August 2019, Pages 137-145
Hicks, JW and Wang T (2021) Safety factors as a 'design' principle of animal form and function: an historical perspective. J. Exp. Biology ) 224, jeb243324. doi:10.1242/jeb.243324
Fredrik, J et al (27 co-authors) (2018) Oxygen- and capacity-limited thermal tolerance: blurring ecology and physiology, J. Exp. Biology, vol 221, no. 1, 10.1242/jeb.169615-Commentary
Malte, CL, Malte, H, Reinholdt, LR, Findsen, A, Hicks, JW, and Wang, T (2017) Right-to-left shunt has modest effects CO2 delivery to the gut during digestion, but compromises oxygen delivery. Journal of Experimental Biology, 220, 531-536 doi:10.1242/jeb.149625
Alexander Garrett Schavran Jackson, Szu-Yun Leu, and James W. Hicks (2017) Simultaneously Occurring Elevated Metabolic States Expose Constraints in Maximal Levels of Oxygen Consumption in the Oviparous Snake Lamprophis fuliginosus Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 2017 90:3, 301-312
Cassondra L. Williams, James W. Hicks (2016) Continuous arterial PO2 profiles in unrestrained, undisturbed aquatic turtles during routine behaviors Journal of Experimental Biology 2016 : doi: 10.1242/jeb.141010
Blumenfeld RS, Winsell JC, Hicks JW, Small SL (2016) The epidemiology of sports-related head injury and concussion in water polo. Front. Neurol., 24 June 2016 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2016.00098
Jackson, AG, Szu-Yun Leu, Ford, NB, Hicks, JW (2015) Patterns of oxygen consumption during simultaneously occurring elevated metabolic states in the viviparous snake Thamnophis marcianus Journal of Experimental Biology 2015 218: 3570-3579;
Crossley, DA, Hartzler, L, Wearing, O, Platzack, B and Hicks, JW (2015) Acute and Chronic Temperature Effects on Cardiovascular Regulation In The Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta).
Journal of Comparative Physiology - B May;185(4):401-11
Slay, C, Enok, S, Hicks, JW and Wang, T (2014) Reduction of blood oxygen levels enhances postprandial cardiac hypertrophy in Burmese python (Python molurus). J Exp Biol 217:1784-1789
Burgrren, WW, Christoffels, VM, Crossley, DA, Enok, S, Farrell, AP, Hedrick, MS, Hicks, JW, Jensen, B, Moorman, AFM, Mueller, CA, Skovgaard, N, Taylor, EW and Wang T (2014) Invited Review: Comparative Cardiovascular physiology: future trends, opportunities, and challenges. Acta Physiol. Scand., Volume 210, Issue 2, pages 257–276
Schmidt, T, Munns, S, Adams, L, and Hicks, JW (2013) The use of spirometry to evaluate pulmonary function in the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) with positive buoyancy disorder. J. Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 44(3):645-653
Hicks, JW and Wang, T (2012) The functional significance of the reptilian heart: new insights into an old question: In: Ontogeny and Phylogeny of the Vertebrate Heart. ed. D. Sedema and T Wang, Springer Verlag-New York, pg. 207-227
Bagattoa, B, , Crossley, DA, Altimiras, J, Elsey, RM, Hicks, JW (2012) Physiological variability in yearling alligators: Clutch differences at rest and during activity. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Volume 162, Issue 1, May 2012, Pages 44–50
Eme J, Altimiras J, Hicks JW, Crossley DA 2nd. (2011) Hypoxic alligator embryos: chronic hypoxia, catecholamine levels and autonomic responses of in ovo alligators.
Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. Nov;160(3):412-20. Epub 2011 Jul 23
Eme, J, Hicks, JW and Crossley, DA (2011) Chronic hypoxic incubation blunts a cardiovascular reflex loop in embryonic American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). J. Comp Physiol B Volume 181, Number 7, 981-990, DOI: 10.1007/s00360-011-0569-z
Porteus, C., Hedrick, MS, Hicks, JW, Wang, T and Milsom, WK (2011) Time domains of the hypoxic ventilatory response in ectohermic vertebrates. J. Comp Physiol. B Volume 181, Number 3, 311-333, DOI: 10.1007/s00360-011-0554-6
Eme, J., Crossley, DA and Hicks, JW (2011) Role of the left aortic arch and blood flows in embryonic American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). J. Comp Physiol B Volume 181, Number 3, 391-401, DOI: 10.1007/s00360-010-0494-6
Crossley, DA, Jonker, SS, Hicks, JW and Thornberg, KL (2010) Maturation of the angiotensin II cardiovascular response in the embryonic white leghorn chicken (Gallus gallus). J. Comp Physiol. B Oct 180(7): 1057-1065
Eme, J, Gwalthney, J, Owerkowicz, T, Blank, JM and Hicks JW (2010) Turning crocodilian hearts into bird hearts: Growth rates are similar of alligators with and without right -to-left shunts. J Exp. Biol Aug 1: 213 (Pt 15): 2673-2680
Skovgaard, N, Hicks, JW and Wang T (2010) Oxygen uptake and transport in air-breathers. In: Respiratory Physiology of Vertebrates: life with and without oxygen. Ed. G. Nilsson, Cambridge University Press, pgs. 95-129
Gabriel E. A. Gartner, James W. Hicks, Paulo R. Manzani, Denis V. Andrade, Augusto S. Abe, Tobias Wang, Stephen M. Secor, and Theodore Garland Jr.(2010) Phylogeny, Ecology, and Heart Position in Snakes Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 2010 83:1, 43-54
Wang T, Hicks JW (2008) Changes in pulmonary blood flow do not affect gas exchange during intermittent ventilation
in resting turtles. J Exp Biol. Dec;211(Pt 23):3759-63.
Axelsson M, Dang Q, Pitsillides K, Munns S, Hicks J, Kassab GS. (2007) A novel, fully implantable, multichannel biotelemetry system for measurement of blood flow, pressure, ECG, and temperature. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Mar;102(3):1220-8.
Owerkowicz, Tomasz, Elsey, Ruth M., Hicks, James W. (2009) Atmospheric oxygen level affects growth trajectory, cardiopulmonary allometry and metabolic rate in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) J Exp Biol 2009 212: 1237-1247
Giuseppe A, Rourke, BC, Andersen, JB, Fu, J, Kim, JH, Bennett, AF, Hicks, JW and Piomelli, D (2006) Postprandial increase of oleoylethanolamide mobilization in small intestine of the Burmese python (Python molurus) Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 290: R1407-R1412
Torday JS, Rehan VK, Hicks JW, Wang T, Maina J, Weibel ER, Hsia CC, Sommer RJ, Perry SF. (2007) Deconvoluting lung evolution: from phenotypes to gene regulatory networks
Integr Comp Biol. Oct;47(4):601-9.
L.K. Hartzler, , S.L. Munns, A.F. Bennett and J.W. Hicks (2006) Recovery from an activity-induced metabolic acidosis in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis Comp Biochem and Physiol - Part A: Mol & Int Physiol Volume 143, Issue 3 , Pages 368-374
Hartzler, L. K., Munns, S. L., Bennett, A. F., Hicks, J. W. (2006)Metabolic and blood gas dependence on digestive state in the Savannah monitor lizard Varanus exanthematicus: an assessment of the alkaline tide J Exp Biol 209: 1052-1057.
Eme, John, Gwalthney, June, Blank, Jason M., Owerkowicz, Tomasz, Barron, Gildardo, Hicks, James W. (2009) Surgical removal of right-to-left cardiac shunt in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) causes ventricular enlargement but does not alter apnoea or metabolism during diving J Exp Biol 212: 3553-3563
Britt, E. J., Hicks, J. W., Bennett, A. F. (2006) The energetic consequences of dietary specialization in populations of the garter snake, Thamnophis elegans J Exp Biol 209: 3164-3169
Hicks, JW and Munis, JR (2005) The siphon controversy counterpoint: the brain need not be "baffling" Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 289: R629-R632
Andersen, JB, Rourke, B, Caiozzo, V, Bennett, AF and Hicks, JW (2005) Postprandial cardiac hypertrophy in pythons, Nature, 434, 37 - 38 (03 Mar 2005)
Wang, T., Andersen, J. B. and Hicks, J. W. (2005). Effects of digestion on the respiratory and cardiovascular physiology of amphibians and reptiles. In Physiological and Ecological Adaptations to Feeding in Vertebrates (ed. J. M. Starck and T. Wang), pp. 279-303. Enfield, NH, USA: Science?Publishers
Munns, SL., Hartzler, LK, Bennett, AF, and Hicks, JW (2005)Terrestrial locomotion does not constrain venous return in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis J. Exp. Biol. 2005 208: 3331-3339.
McCue, M. D., A. F. Bennett, and J. W. Hicks.(2005). The effect of meal composition on specific dynamic action in Burmese Pythons (Python molurus) . Physiol. Biochem. Zool. 78: 182-192.
Munns, SL, Hartzler, LK, Bennett, AF, Hicks, JW (2004) Elevated intra-abdominal pressure limits venous return during exercise in Varanus exanthematicus J Exp Biol 207, 4111-4120
Owerkowicz, T., Farmer, C., Hicks, J.W. and Branierd, B. (1999) Gular pumping contributes to lung ventilation in monitor lizards. Science V284 N5420 1661- 1663.
Hicks, JW and Munis, JR (2005) The siphon controversy counterpoint: the brain need not be "baffling" Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 289: R629-R632
Hicks JW, Wang T.(2004) Hypometabolism in reptiles: behavioural and physiological mechanisms that reduce aerobic demands.Respir Physiol Neurobiol. Aug 12;141(3):261-71:
Collaborative Research: LiT: Effects of environmental oxygen on growth and physiological performance in the American alligator: A case study in experimental paleophysiology. National Science Foundation, Division of Integrative Organismal Systems 2009-2012
Collaborative Research: The Diving Physiology of Chelonians; A comparative study of three turtle species. National Science Foundation, Division of Integrative Organismal Systems 2012-15
Professional Societies
Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
American Physiological Society
Society for Experimental Biology
Other Experience
Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology Section, American Physiological Society 2004—2007
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 2001—2009
American Physiological Society 2006—2009
Division of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry, SICB 2010—2012
Chair-Communications Committee
American Physiological Society 2010—2013
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
UC Irvine 2011—2015
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research
UC Irvine 2015—2016
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, Univ of Chicago Press 2001—2009
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 2019—2020
Graduate Programs
Comparative Physiology
Research Centers
Affiliate of the Edwards Life Science Foundation-Cardiovascular Innovation and Research Center
Last updated