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Spinal Cord Research Center Field of Interest - Plasticity

Plasticity following spinal cord injury (SCI) refers to functional and/or anatomical changes that occur spontaneously, or are driven by therapeutic interventions. It is possible that these will become permanent without any further action. For example, some limited spontaneous functional improvements can occur following spinal cord injury.

Using a range of neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and behavioral approaches, investigators in the Spinal Cord Research Center are exploring how neural circuitry controlling motor and sensory function is affected by spinal cord injury and how treatments can be used to promote repair. Although typically thought of as being beneficial – or ‘adaptive’ – changes, there is some potential for plasticity to have negative – or maladaptive – consequences, such as increased pain or spasticity.

Ongoing research within the Spinal Cord Research Center is focusing on neuroplastic changes in:

  • locomotion (John Houle, Simon Giszter, Marie-Pascale Côté, Kim Dougherty)
  • upper extremity (arm) function (John Houle, Marie-Pascale Côté, Veronica Tom, Michael Lane, Megan Detloff)
  • neuropathic pain and sensory dysfunction (Megan Detloff, Itzhak Fischer, Ying Jin)
  • respiration (Michael Lane, Tatiana Bezdudnaya, Vitaliy Marchenko)
  • autonomic dysreflexia and bladder function (Shaoping Hou, Veronica Tom)

These changes also are being studied using the latest in computational modeling (Ilya Rybak). Using knowledge gained from clinical collaborations, and from experimental and computational models, our research aims to identify the time-course and extent of plasticity and how the associated changes represent therapeutic targets for further enhancing recovery.

Related Faculty

Tatiana Bezdudnaya, PhD

Tatiana Bezdudnaya, PhD

Instructor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Respiratory plasticity after spinal cord injury
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Marie-Pascale Côté, PhD

Marie-Pascale Côté, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Plasticity of spinal networks after spinal cord injury
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Megan Detloff, PhD

Megan Detloff, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Neurorehabilitative strategies to prevent aberrant afferent plasticity and neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury
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Kimberly Dougherty, PhD

Kimberly Dougherty, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
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Itzhak Fischer, PhD

Itzhak Fischer, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Cellular and molecular strategies in promoting regeneration; structure and function of neuronal cytoskeleton
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Simon Giszter, PhD

Simon Giszter, PhD

Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Spinal cord organization and control of limb biomechanics
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Shaoping Hou, PhD

Shaoping Hou, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Autonomic dysfunction after spinal cord injury, micturition reflex and cardiovascular function, neural stem cells, axon regeneration, serotonin and dopamine
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John Houle, PhD

John Houle, PhD

Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Neurotransplantation strategies to promote structural and functional recovery after spinal cord injury
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Ying Jin, PhD

Ying Jin, PhD

Research Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
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Michael Lane, PhD

Michael Lane, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Spontaneous and therapeutically enhanced neural plasticity following cervical spinal cord injury
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Vitaliy Marchenko, MD, PhD

Vitaliy Marchenko, MD, PhD*

Research Assistant Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Neural control of cardiovascular and respiratory function
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*Physician's clinical practice is independent of Drexel University.

 
Ilya Rybak, PhD

Ilya Rybak, PhD

Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Computational neuroscience, motor control, modeling neural control of respiration and locomotion
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Veronica Tom, PhD

Veronica Tom, PhD

Associate Professor
Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy
Research Interests: Modulation of extrinsic and intrinsic factors to promote axonal regeneration and plasticity
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