The goal of our laboratory is to study mechanisms underlying spinal cord injury (SCI) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to develop novel repair strategies to promote neural reorganization and functional recovery in experimental models of these injuries. Our long-term goal is to translate promising treatments from animal models to humans, including our veterans.
To reach these goals, two lines of research are being conducted. The first line of research is on neuroprotection. Our lab was among the first to report apoptosis following acute SCI, and to report phospholipase A2 as a key mediator of secondary SCI. The second line of research is on axonal regeneration. We were among the first to transplant Schwann cells (SCs) into injured spinal cords to promote axonal regeneration and recovery of function. In addition to SCs, we also transplant other glial cells including oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived immature astrocytes in their ability to support neural circuitry reorganization and recovery of function. These cell-based strategies are combined with other efficacious treatments on boosting intrinsic and extrinsic regenerative capacities. We are particularly interested in promoting regeneration and/or reorganization of long descending supraspinal axons such as those from the corticospinal tract (CST), the rubrospinal (RST) and the descending propriospinal tract (dPST).