Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and is thought to initiate with an insult to the axons of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which project their axons from the retina through the optic nerve to innervate targets in the brain. However, the precise mechanisms linking axonal injury to RGC apoptosis are unclear, and no therapies exist which can restore lost vision in patients. Recently, the Benowitz lab discovered that retinal interneurons play a critical role in linking optic nerve injury to RGC degeneration in mice.

Nicholas's long term research interests lie in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the interaction between injured neurons and their environment, with the aim of leveraging this understanding to facilitate neuronal regeneration in patients. Nicholas is currently studying the upstream signaling events linking optic nerve injury to RGC death, with the aim to identify clinically relevant interventions that lead to the preservation and regeneration of injured RGCs. This work was supported last year by the Molecular Bases of Eye Diseases Training Program at Schepens Eye Institute.


Nicholas received his B.S. in Biology with a double-major in Theatre from Boston College in 2010, and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. His dissertation research focused on the development and regeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium in zebrafish. This work resulted in multiple first-author publications as well as presentations in regional and international conferences, such as ARVO (2015, 2017), the Society for Developmental Biology (2016), and Society for Neuroscience (2018).

At Boston Children's Hospital, Nicholas is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Larry Benowitz. He leads a research project which involves multiple collaborations across institutions, mentors undergraduate research assistants, and is a board member of the BCH Postdoctoral Association in the Public Affairs Committee.

Researcher Services

Researcher Areas

  • Neurobiology
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Ophthalmology
  • Optic nerve regeneration
  • Regeneration

Research Departments

Researcher Labs


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles

  1. Hanovice NJ, Leach LL, Slater K, Gabriel AE, Romanovicz D, Shao E, Collery R, Burton EA, Lathrop KL, Link BA, Gross JM. Regeneration of the zebrafish retinal pigment epithelium after widespread genetic ablation. PLoS Genet. 2019 01; 15(1):e1007939. View abstract
  2. Yin Y, De Lima S, Gilbert HY, Hanovice NJ, Peterson SL, Sand RM, Sergeeva EG, Wong KA, Xie L, Benowitz LI. Optic nerve regeneration: A long view. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2019; 37(6):525-544. View abstract
  3. Hanovice NJ, McMains E, Gross JM. Using GAL4-Inducible Transgenics to Modulate Rho GTPase Activity in Zebrafish. Methods Mol Biol. 2018; 1821:359-370. View abstract
  4. Hanovice NJ, McMains E, Gross JM. Corrigendum: A GAL4-inducible transgenic tool kit for the in vivo modulation of Rho GTPase activity in zebrafish. Dev Dyn. 2017 06; 246(6):485. View abstract
  5. Hanovice NJ, McMains E, Gross JM. A GAL4-inducible transgenic tool kit for the in vivo modulation of Rho GTPase activity in zebrafish. Dev Dyn. 2016 08; 245(8):844-53. View abstract
  6. Hanovice NJ, Daly CM, Gross JM. N-Ethylmaleimide-Sensitive Factor b (nsfb) Is Required for Normal Pigmentation of the Zebrafish Retinal Pigment Epithelium. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Nov; 56(12):7535-44. View abstract
  7. Waligora EA, Fisher CR, Hanovice NJ, Rodou A, Wyckoff EE, Payne SM. Role of intracellular carbon metabolism pathways in Shigella flexneri virulence. Infect Immun. 2014 Jul; 82(7):2746-55. View abstract