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Dr. Tracy A. Nichols



Dr. Tracy Nichols is a molecular biologist in the Management of Ungulate Disease and Damage project at the NWRC. Her current research interests include transmission of chronic wasting disease (CWD), prion biology, role of the environment and environmental constituents in CWD spread, and evaluation of ante-mortem testing for CWD.  

NWRC Research Project: Management of Ungulate Disease and Damage

Current Research

Chronic wasting disease, environmental contamination, CWD prevention and therapies, CWD detection


  • Ph.D., Colorado State University, Cell and Molecular Biology, "Chronic wasting disease and water contamination"
  • M.S., Colorado State University, Cell and Molecular Biology, "Toxicology of DACT, a metabolite of atrazine"
  • M.A., University of Northern Colorado, Biology, Herpetology, "Effects of minute amounts of pesticides on tapole growth and development"
  • B.S., Kennesaw State University, Biology, "Frog abundance of the greater Atlanta area, using calling surveys"

Contact Information

  • Address: Wildlife Services, NWRC, 1401 LaPorte, Ave.,Fort Collins, CO, 80521
  • Telephone: 970.266.6141
  • Fax: 970.266.6157
  • Email:


Nichols, T.A., T.R. Spraker, T. Gidlewski, B. Cummings, D. Hill, Q. Kong, A. Balachandran, K.C. VerCauteren, and M.D. Zabel. 2016. Dietary magnesium and copper affect survival time and neuroinflammation in chronic wasting disease. Prion 10(3):228-250.  doi:10.1080/19336896.2016.1181249  

Nichols, T.A. 2016. Plants, prions and possibilities: Current understanding and significance of prion uptake into plants. North American Elk May, 2016:69.  


Nichols, T.A., J.W. Fischer, T.R. Spraker, Q. Kong, and K.C. VerCauteren. 2015. CWD prions remain infectious after passage through the digestive system of coyotes (Canis latrans). Prion 9(5):367-375. doi: 10.1080/19336896.2015.1086061  

Spraker, T.R., T. Gidlewski, J.G. Powers, T. Nichols, A. Balachandran, B. Cummings, M.A. Wild, K. VerCauteren, and K.I. O'Rourke. 2015. Progressive accumulation of the abnormal conformer of the prion protein and spongiform encephalopathy in the obex of nonsymptomatic and symptomatic Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) with chronic wasting disease. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 27(4):431-441. doi: 10.1177/1040638715593368


Lavelle, M.J., G.E. Phillips, J.W. Fischer, P.W. Burke, N.W. Seward, R.S. Stahl, T.A. Nichols, B.A. Wunder, and K.C. VerCauteren. 2014. Mineral licks: motivational factors for visitation and accompanying disease risk at communal use sites of elk and deer.  Environmental Geochemistry and Health 36(6):1049-1061.   doi: 10.1007/s10653-014-9600-0  


Fischer, J.W., T.A. Nichols, G.E. Phillips, and K.C. VerCauteren. 2013. Procedures for identifying infectious prions after passage through the digestive system of an avian species. Journal of Visualized Experiments 81: e50853, doi:10.3791/50853.

Fischer, J.W., G.E. Phillips, T.A. Nichols, and K.C. Vercauteren. 2013. Could avian scavengers translocate infectious prions to disease-free areas initiating new foci of chronic wasting disease? Prion 7(4): 263-266. doi:10.4161/pri.25621.

Nichols T.A., T.R. Spraker, T.D. Rigg, C. Meyerett-Reid, C.Hoover, B. Michel, J. Bian, E. Hoover, T. Gidlewski, A. Balachandran, K. O'Rourke, G.C. Telling, R. Bowen, M.D. Zabel, and K.C.VerCauteren. 2013. Intranasal inoculation of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with lyophilized Chronic Wasting Disease prion particulate complexed to montmorillonite clay. PLoS ONE 8(5): e62455. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062455

Pilon, J.L., J.C. Rhyan, L.L. Wolfe, T.R. Davis, M.P. McCollum, K.I. O'Rourke, T. R. Spraker, K.C. VerCauteren, M. W. Miller, T. Gidlewski, T.A. Nichols, L.A. Miller, and P. Nol. 2013. Immunization with a synthetic peptide vaccine fails to protect mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) from chronic wasting disease. J Wildl Dis. 49(3): 694-8.


Nichols, T.A., T.R. Spraker, T. Gidlewski, J.G. Powers, G.C. Telling, K.C. VerCauteren, and M.D. Zabel. 2012. Detection of prion protein in the cerebrospinal fluid of elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) with chronic wasting disease using protein misfolding cyclic amplification. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 24 (4): 746-749.

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