Scientists meet in Louisville to share research that could lead to improved treatments for spinal cord and head injury

Scientists meet in Louisville to share research that could lead to improved treatments for spinal cord and head injury

The second participant to receive an epidural stimulator as part of the investigation of standing, stepping and voluntary control in individuals with complete spinal cord injury.

More than a dozen leading basic scientists from around the nation and the world studying neurological function will make presentations to 160 fellow researchers in Louisville Wednesday and Thursday. The goal is to facilitate collaborations that will advance science leading to improved spinal cord and head injury rehabilitation.

Scientists from Sweden, Canada and the United States will share their latest neurotrauma research at the 21st Annual Kentucky Spinal Cord & Head Injury Research Trust Symposium.

The symposium, sponsored by Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust, Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, KentuckyOne Health, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and University of Louisville School of Medicine, is organized to advance the study of neurotrauma and ultimately lead to methods of restoring function to those with spinal cord and head injuries.

Among those speaking are Abdel El Manira, Ph.D., and Tatiana Deliagina, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Paul Kubes, Ph.D. and Christopher Power, M.D., F.R.C.P.C. of Canada. El Manira will discuss his research into locomotor circuits in zebrafish. His research shows that neuron groups are selectively wired for slow, intermediate or fast movement, and the fish’s nervous system selects distinct motoneurons for different swimming speeds.

Deliagina will discuss her work studying feedback mode of postural control in quadrupeds. Loss of postural control is one of the major motor disorders following spinal cord injury. Marc Freeman, Ph.D. of the University of Massachusetts Medical School will present the keynote address on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nerve degeneration.

This work is similar to basic science research that led to the groundbreaking clinical studies, done at the University of Louisville and Frazier Rehab Institute, in which stimulators were transplanted into spinal cord injured patients who subsequently gained the ability for volitional movement in their legs (see the patient photo below).

The event will be held May 20-21, 2015 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, 280 W. Jefferson St. Hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The UofL Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center is dedicated to developing successful spinal cord repair strategies in the laboratory that can be taken to the clinic in a timely and responsible fashion.