Picture of Dr. Helen Nichol

Dr. Helen Nichol PhD Faculty, Anatomy & Cell Biology

Research Areas

  • Applications of synchrotron technology to medicine

About Dr. Helen Nichol

My laboratory is interested in how cells store and detoxify excess metals and metalloids and how dysregulation of metal metabolism contributes to disease.  We use the synchrotron as well as cell and molecular biology techniques to examine the role of metals in mitochondrial disease and in common neurodegenerative diseases.

CIHR Team in Synchrotron Medical Imaging (Funded by CIHR and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada)

Principal Investigator in cross-disciplinary group using medical imaging to improve the diagnosis and treatment of stroke.

Selected Publications

  • Hackett MJ, Britz CJ, Paterson PG, Nichol H, Pickering IJ, George GN. In Situ Biospectroscopic Investigation of Rapid Ischemic and Postmortem Induced Biochemical Alterations in the Rat Brain. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2014 Nov 13. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Pushie MJ, Nienaber KH, Summers KL, Cotelesage JJ, Ponomarenko O, Nichol HK, Pickering IJ, George GN.  The solution structure of the copper clioquinol complex. J Inorg Biochem. 2014 Apr;133:50-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Jan 16.
  • Hackett MJ, Borondics F, Brown D, Hirschmugl C, Smith SE, Paterson PG, Nichol H, Pickering IJ, George GN.  Subcellular biochemical investigation of purkinje neurons using synchrotron radiation fourier transform infrared spectroscopic imaging with a focal plane array detector. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2013 Jul 17;4(7):1071-80. doi: 10.1021/cn4000346. Epub 2013 May 20.
  • Zheng W, Nichol H, Liu S, Cheng YC, Haacke EM.  Measuring iron in the brain using quantitative susceptibility mapping and X-ray fluorescence imaging.  Neuroimage. 2013 Sep;78:68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.022. Epub 2013 Apr 13.
  • Hackett MJ, Smith SE, Paterson PG, Nichol H, Pickering IJ, George GN.  X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy at the Sulfur K-Edge: A New Tool to Investigate the Biochemical Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration.  ACS Chem Neurosci. 2012 Mar 21;3(3):178-85. Epub 2012 Jan 2. 
  • Zheng W, Haacke EM, Webb SM, Nichol H.  Imaging of stroke: a comparison between X-ray fluorescence and magnetic resonance imaging methods.  Magn Reson Imaging. 2012 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Silasi G, Klahr AC, Hackett MJ, Auriat AM, Nichol H, Colbourne F.  Prolonged therapeutic hypothermia does not adversely impact neuroplasticity after global ischemia in rats.  J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2012 Aug;32(8):1525-34. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2012.38. Epub 2012 Mar 21.
  • Auriat AM, Silasi G, Wei Z, Paquette R, Paterson P, Nichol H, Colbourne F.  Ferric iron chelation lowers brain iron levels after intracerebral hemorrhage in rats but does not improve outcome.  Exp Neurol. 2012 Mar;234(1):136-43. Epub 2011 Dec 27.
  • Wei Z, Wang J, Nichol H, Wiebe S, Chapman D.  A median-Gaussian filtering framework for Moiré pattern noise removal from X-ray microscopy image.  Micron. 2011 Jul 19. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Marcu, O, Lera, M.P., Sanchez, M.E., Levic, E,. Higgins, L.A., Nichol, H. et al 2011  Innate Immune Respones o f Drosophila Melanogaster are Altered by Spaceflight. PLoS ONE 6(1): e15361
  • Validation of phase iron detection with XRF (Chapter 23 of Susceptibility Weighted Imaging: Basic Concepts and Clinical  Application. E Mark Haacke and Juergen Reichenbach editors, John Wiley and Sons
  • Gh Popescu BF, Nichol H.  Mapping Brain Metals to Evaluate Therapies for Neurodegenerative Disease.  CNS Neurosci Ther. 2010 Jun 14. 
  • Hopp K, Popescu BF, McCrea RP, Harder SL, Robinson CA, Haacke ME, Rajput AH, Rajput A, Nichol H.  Brain iron detected by SWI high pass filtered phase calibrated with synchrotron X-ray fluorescence.   J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Jun;31(6):1346-54.
  • Popescu, B.F.Gh, Robinson, C.A., Chapman, D., Nichol, H. (2009) Synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence Reveals Abnormal Metal Distributions in Brain and Spinal Cord in Spinocerebellar Ataxia: A Case Report Cerebellum 8(3): 340-351
  • Popescu, B.F.Gh, Robinson, C.A., Rajput, A., Rajput, A.H., Harder, S.L., Nichol, H. (2009) Iron, Copper, and Zinc Distribution of the Cerebellum. Cerebellum 8(2): 74-
  • Popescu, B.F.Gh, George, M.J., Bergmann, U., Garachtchenko, A.V., Kelly, M.E., McCrea, R.P.E., Luning, K., Devon, R.M., George, G. N., Hanson, A.D., Harder, S.M., Chapman, L.D., Pickering, I.J., Nichol, H. (2009) Mapping metals in Parkinson’s and normal brain using rapid-scanning x-ray fluorescence Phys. Med. Biol. 54: 651-663.
  • McCrea, R.P.E., Harder, S.L., Martin, M., Buist, R., Nichol, H. (2008) A Comparison of Rapid-scanning S-ray fluorescence mapping and magnetic resonance imaging to localize brain iron distribution. Eur. J. Radiology 68S: S109-S113
  • Zhu, Y., Zhang, H., Bewer, B., Popescu, B.F.Gh., Nichol, H., Chapman, D. (2008) Field Flatteners Fabricated with a Rapid Prototyper for K-Edge Subtraction Imaging of Small Animals. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A. 588: 442-447
  • Popescu, B. F. Gh., Pickering, I.J., George, G.N., Nichol, H. (2007) ‘The Chemical Form of Iron in Friedreich’s Ataxia’, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 101(6): 957-96.
  • Popescu, B. F. Gh., Belak, Z. R., Ignatyev, K., Ovsenek, N., Nichol, H. (2007) Asymmetric Distribution of Metals in the Xenopus laevis Oocyte: A Synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence Microprobe Study. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 85: 1-6
  • Zhu, Y., Zhang, H., McCrea, R., Bewer, B., Wiebe, S., Nichol, H., Ryan, C., Wysokinski, T., Chapman, D. (2007) Fabrication of a Small Animal Restraint for Synchrotron Biomedical Imaging using a Rapid Prototyper. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A. 582 (1), p.229-2323.
  • Vickerman, D.B, Trumble, J.T., George, G.N, Pickering, I.J., Nichol, H. (2004) Selenium Biotransformations in an Insect Ecosystem: Effects of Insects on Phytoremediation. Environmental Science and Technology 38, 3581-3586 (Featured on A pages and cover).
  • Park, S., Gakh, O., Mangravita, A., Nichol, H., Ferreira, G.C., Isaya, G. (2003) Yeast Frataxin sequentially chaperones and stores iron by coupling protein assembly with iron oxidation J. Biol. Chem. 278(33): 31340-31351.
  • Nichol, H., Gakh, O., Pickering, I.J., Isaya, G., George, G.N. (2003) The structure of yeast frataxin iron cores: An X-ray absorption spectroscopic study. Biochemistry 42(20): 5971-5976.