David S. K. Magnuson, Ph.D.

Friends for Michael Endowed Professor, Departments of Neurological Surgery, Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology, and Biomedical Engineering

 Phone: 502-852-6551; Fax: 502-852-5148

  E-mail David Magnuson

Research Focus:

  The research in my laboratory is focused on the neurons and pathways in the spinal cord that are responsible for locomotion, and on translating what we learn about locomotor systems to spinal cord injury and repair.

  One of our primary investigations is focused on the long propriospinal neurons and pathways in the spinal cord that link the lumbar and cervical enlargements. In collaboration with the Simon Danner Lab at Drexel University, we use a combination of approaches including cutting-edge behavioral analysis, virus-based synaptic silencing and neuronal labeling and computer modeling. In a series of papers we have shown that these circuits are critical for interlimb coordination during locomotion, and have also revealed that we can learn a lot about spinal circuitry by getting our animals to try to run, not just walk.

  A second major project in my laboratory is aimed at gaining a better understanding of activity-based rehabilitation, one of the primary rehabilitation strategies used clinically, that usually takes the form of body-weight supported treadmill training. We are currently using several different approaches in animal models including swimming, shallow water walking, passive cycling and large cages as strategies to enhance recovery and tiny cages to reduce hindlimb movement and recovery after injury.

  Our third major project is focused on a clinically-modeled physical therapy strategy that mimics the stretching that is applied to lower extremity muscles after a spinal cord injury in an effort to reduce spasticity and to maintain joint range-of-motion. Many patients with spinal cord injury experience spasticity and contractures, a severe limitation to joint range of motion that can be debilitating.

  Finally, we have an ongoing bioinformatics project focused on enhancing our understanding of spinal cord injury as a whole-body syndrome, and the impact of inactivity/activity using big-data analyses and approaches to experimental design. This project is in collaboration with Drs. Eric Rouchka and Julia Chariker (Biochemistry).


  In addition to running the lab I teach the first year medical students about the neuronal membrane, channels and electrophysiology. I also teach the first year graduate students about neurophysiology and neuroscience research techniques. Finally, I direct the Interdisciplinary Program in Translational Neuroscience (IPTN), a PhD program for students interested in translational neuroscience. As part of that program, I am course director for NSCI 600, our graduate level translational neuroscience course.

Magnuson Lab Personnel: Some Recent Graduates from the Magnuson Lab:
Alice Shum-Siu, Lab manager Brandon L. Brown, PhD. Postdoc in the Beverly Davidson Lab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Mary-Ellen DeHoff, Research Associate Gregory JR States, PhD. Postdoc/Research Engineer, Cleveland FES Center
Michael Forston, PhD. Postdoctoral Researcher. Courtney Shepard, PhD. Medical Student, University of Louisville.
Morgan Sharp-Forston. PhD Candidate, IPTN. Amanda Pocratsky, PhD. Research Associate in the Lab of Rob Brownstone, University College London
Carlos Almeida. PhD Candidate, IPTN.
McKenna Butler, PhD Student, ASNB

Click to view all of Dr. Magnuson's publications on PubMed

Select Recent Publications:

Shepard CT, Brown BL,  Van Rijswijck MA, Zalla RM, Burke DA, Morehouse JR, Riegler AS, Whittemore SR, Magnuson DSK. Silencing long-descending inter-enlargement propriospinal neurons improves hindlimb stepping after contusive spinal cord injury. Elife. 2023 Dec 15;12:e82944. doi: 10.7554/eLife.82944. PMID: 38099572 

Brown BL, Anil N, States G, Whittemore SR, Magnuson DSK. Long ascending propriospinal neurons are heterogenous and subject to spinal cord injury induced anatomic plasticity. Exp Neurol. 2023 Dec 7;373:114631. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2023.114631. PMID: 38070723.

Rouchka EC, de Almeida C, House RB, Daneshmand JC, Chariker JH, Saraswat-Ohri S, Gomes C, Sharp M, Shum-Siu A, Cesarz GM, Petruska JC, Magnuson DSK. Construction of a Searchable Database for Gene Expression Changes in Spinal Cord Injury Experiments. J Neurotrauma. 2023 Nov 23. doi: 10.1089/neu.2023.0035. PMID: 37917105.

Danner SM, Shepard CT, Hainline C, Shevtsova NA, Rybak IA, Magnuson DSK. Spinal control of locomotion before and after spinal cord injury. Exp Neurol. 2023 Oct;368:114496. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2023.114496. PMID: 37499972

States GJR, Keller A, Shum-Siu A, Petruska JC, Magnuson DSK. Broad opioid antagonism amplifies disruption of locomotor function following therapy-like hindlimb stretching in spinal cord injured rats. Spinal Cord. 2022 doi: 10.1038/s41393-021-00705-6. PMID: 34561547.

Shepard CT, Pocratsky AM, Brown BL, Van Rijswijck MA, Zalla RM, Burke DA, Morehouse JR, Riegler AS, Whittemore SR, Magnuson DSK. Silencing long ascending propriospinal neurons after spinal cord injury improves hindlimb stepping in the adult rat. Elife. 2021 Dec 2;10:e70058. doi: 10.7554/eLife.70058. PMID: 34854375.

Mac-Thiong JM, Richard-Denis A, Petit Y, Bernard F, Barthélemy D, Dionne A, Magnuson DSK. Protocol for rapid onset of mobilisation in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (PROMPT-SCI) study: a single-arm proof-of-concept trial of early in-bed leg cycling following acute traumatic spinal cord injury. BMJ Open. 2021 Nov 1;11(11):e049884. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049884. PMID: 34725077.

Brown BL, Zalla RM, Shepard CT, Howard RM, Kopechek JA, Magnuson DSK, Whittemore SR. Dual-Viral Transduction Utilizing Highly Efficient Retrograde Lentivirus Improves Labeling of Long Propriospinal Neurons. Front Neuroanat. 2021.15:635921. PMID: 33828464.

Harman KA, DeVeau KM, Squair JW, West CR, Krassioukov AV, Magnuson DSK. Effects of early exercise training on the severity of autonomic dysreflexia following incomplete spinal cord injury in rodents. Physiol Rep. 2021 9(15):e14969. PMID: 34337884.

Zholudeva LV, Abraira VE, Satkunendrarajah K, McDevitt TC, Goulding MD, Magnuson DSK, Lane MA. Spinal Interneurons as Gatekeepers to Neuroplasticity after Injury or Disease. J. Neurosci 41(5): 845-854. 2021. PMID: 33472820.

Hoy KC, Strain MM, Turtle JD, Lee KH, Huie JR, Hartman JJ, Tarbet MM, Harlow ML, Magnuson DSK, Grau JW. Evidence that the Central Nervous System can Induce a Modification at the Neuromuscular Junction that Contributes to the Maintenance of a Behavioral Response. J Neurosci 40(48): 9186-9209. 2020 PMID: 33097637.

Pocratsky AM, Shepard CT, Morehouse JR, Burke DA, Riegler AS, Hardin JT, Beare JE, Hainline C, States GJ, Brown BL, Whittemore SR, Magnuson DS. Long ascending propriospinal neurons provide flexible, context-specific control of interlimb coordination. eLife. Sept. 9, 2020. PMID: 32902379

Chariker JH, Sharp M, Ohri SS, Gomes C, Brabazon F, Harman KA, Whittemore SR, Petruska JC, Magnuson DS, Rouchka EC. RNA-seq data of soleus muscle tissue after spinal cord injury under conditions of inactivity and applied exercise. Data Brief. Feb. 2020. PMID: 32226812

Keller AV, Hainline C, Rees K, Krupp S, Prince D, Wood BD, Shum-Siu A, Burke DA, Petruska JC, Magnuson DSK. Nociceptor-Dependent locomotor dysfunction after clinically-modeled hindlimb muscle stretching in adult rats with spinal cord injury. Experimental Neurology 318: 267-276. 2019. PMID: 30880143.