Neural modulation and the control of skeletal health and brain/skeletal signaling after injury
Research in the Elefteriou laboratory indicates that sympathetic input to bone cells is critical for growth and maintenance. Further, there is an evolving understanding of a network of brain-stem neurokines that promote bone remodeling and a reciprocal network of bone-derived hormones that impact brain health. This project seeks to model how motor and/or autonomic neuromodulation effects bone remodeling in the brain and bone hormone network. The Horner and Elefteriou laboratories will collaborate to measure bone marrow activation, bone signaling, and central neural signals that change due to neuromodulation in a model of spinal cord injury.
Biomimetic nanoparticles to promote neural connectivity
Defining the functional consequence of astrocyte activity upon neural networks
In parallel, astrocyte states will be manipulated, using transgenic mouse models, and similar physiological measurements will be conducted (Deneen Laboratory). Astrocytes in both models will be profiled with RNA sequencing to uncover potential mechanisms underlying astrocyte activity-induced neuronal communication. It is expected that high priority intercellular signaling pathways will be identified to translate into preclinical testing regarding restoring normative function that is dysregulated in inflammatory environments post-injury and post-disease.
Manipulation of RNA compartmentalization to facilitate regenerative responses
Top candidates will be manipulated in mouse spinal cord injury models to assess their function in promoting axon regeneration (Horner Laboratory). Data gained from this systematic analysis and functional validation will offer new opportunities for the development of effective RNA therapy and treatment strategies for spinal cord and brain injury.
Spinal neuromodulation and recovery of bladder control after injury
This project will combine advanced neuroimaging approaches, urodynamics, and non-invasive spinal neuromodulation to identify the patterns of supraspinal-spinal activation and connectivity during the initiation, maintenance, and completion of voiding (or attempt of voiding) in intact, or paralyzed due to spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, subjects and to elucidate the neuromodulatory mechanisms of spinal stimulation on bladder control. The central hypothesis is that neural activation profiles can be used to selectively target specific regions within the central nervous system using spinal neuromodulation. Thus, the spinal and supraspinal effects of transcutaneous spinal stimulation on voiding will be examined.
Modulating the gut microbiome to reduce neurodegeneration
The laboratory of Dr. Jeannie Chin is devoted to characterizing patterns of brain activity in mice and correlated neuronal activity with performance in behavioral paradigms that test different aspects of memory and cognition, especially using animal models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Furthermore, the relationship between the microbiome and the development of cognitive impairment in dementia or the development of AD is unknown. This project will deplete the microbiome in AD animals and will restore it with the pre-AD microbiome. Specifically, the Villapol and Chin laboratories will identify the link between the modulation of the microbiome in AD mice and brain connectivity, amyloid beta accumulation, and memory impairment, with the goal of identifying novel treatments to restore cognition and behavior in neurodegenerative diseases.
Matthew Hogan, PhD
Caroline Cvetkovic, PhD
Betsy Salazar, PhD