Pharmacological Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury
Every time we walk, we depend on the neural network in our spinal cord. These networks, called central pattern generators (CPGs) for locomotion organize the timing, phasing, and intensity of muscle contractions during activities like walking and running. But when a person suffers spinal cord injury, the CPG networks lose their normal inputs from the brain and quickly become dysfunctional.
Ronald Harris-Warrick is researching this process with the eventual goal of identifying treatments that could restore function of CPG networks after injury. His lab studies injury-induced changes in the electrical properties of identified CPG neurons; the strengths of their synaptic connections, which form the network; and the gene expression and function of ionic channels and transmitter receptors that shape these processes. The lab will test several pharmacological treatments that can be applied after injury to learn whether such treatments can slow or stop the degenerative changes that occur. NIH Grant Number: R01NS017323