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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy Research

Spinal Cord Injury

The Spinal Cord Research Center is engaged in an innovative and multidisciplinary program for studying the pathophysiology of spinal cord injury and the use of various therapeutic strategies including transplantation, drug therapy, physical rehabilitation, functional electrical stimulation and robotics. These approaches represent the most sophisticated techniques of contemporary neuroscience and neuroengineering.

The Houle Lab has a longstanding interest in spinal cord injury and the potential to promote structural and functional repair in acute and chronic injury situations. It is important to understand that a spinal cord injury is an evolving condition where for weeks to months after injury there continues to be change/modulation of the cellular and molecular components affected directly or indirectly by the injury. These changes often are most prominent at the site of injury but it is critical that we also understand how cells/tissues remote to the injury are affected.

The Dougherty Lab is interested in how spinal circuits are organized to produce movements. Current projects include rhythm generation in rodent spinal cord and plasticity of rhythm generating interneurons after injury and training in collaboration with the Rybak Lab.

The Rybak Laboratory for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience is designing and testing models for neural control of breathing and neural circuits in the spinal cord involved in control of locomotion.

Lane Lab research is exploring the consequences of cervical spinal cord injury, the potential for spontaneous improvement in function (plasticity) and aims to develop treatments to improve recovery.

The research mission of the Tom Lab is to develop strategies to promote recovery of these affected behaviors after acute and chronic spinal cord injury.

The Hou Lab is focused on autonomic dysfunction after spinal cord injury, micturition reflex and cardiovascular function.

The Fischer Lab is interested in neural stem cells, and cellular and molecular strategies in promoting regeneration and recovery after spinal cord injury.

The Giszter Lab is studying spinal cord organization and control of limb biomechanics, and particularly spinal cord modularity.

The Côté Lab is focused on plasticity of the spinal networks after spinal cord injury, particularly the modifications that lead to impairment of motor function following injury and activity-dependent mechanisms that assist in recovery of function.

The Detloff Lab is studying the molecular underpinnings that contribute to the development of chronic, debilitating neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury.

Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology

The research in the Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology program is conducted with the goal of providing a mechanistic understanding of basic cellular processes relevant to nervous system development and maintenance. The ultimate aim of the research is to stimulate the development of new clinical strategies for treating neuropathies and promoting regeneration of the injured nervous system.

The Baas Lab is a laboratory of cellular neuroscience at Drexel University College of Medicine studying neuronal microtubules in development and disease. Their mission is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that establish and regulate the microtubule arrays of the neuron during development, health and disease.

The Toyooka Lab has been studying the mechanisms of cerebral cortical development with a specific focus on neuronal migration and morphogenesis related to behavioral disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To uncover the mechanisms involved in these processes, they have created and analyzed many novel mouse models with genetic modifications by utilizing a wide range of techniques including mouse genetics, in utero electroporation, time-lapse live imaging in vitro and on brain slices, and CRISPR/Cas9.

Systems Neurobiology Group

The Systems and Behavioral Neurobiology Group consists of faculty from a variety of disciplines who have a particular interest in the brain mechanisms underlying behavior.

The Barson Lab investigates the neural basis of ingestive behavior, focusing on how the intake of reinforcing substances is affected by neuropeptides.

The research in the Gao Laboratory is aimed at understanding the functional plasticity of the developing prefrontal cortex and neuropsychiatric disorders associated with the prefrontal cortex, such as schizophrenia, autism and ADHD.

The España Lab research focuses on aminergic and hypocretinergic modulation of arousal-related processes including sleep/wake function, stress and motivated behavior.

The Wang Lab studies the neurobiology of learning, memory and emotion, focusing on investigating the hippocampus and amygdala associated neural circuits and functions.

The Laboratory for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience investigates how different cellular, network and systems neural mechanisms are integrated across multiple levels of organization to produce motor behavior and to adapt this behavior to various external and internal conditions.


The research program in Neuroengineering seeks to use engineering and physical science principles to understand the nervous system's circuit operation and build novel devices to interface with this circuitry.

The long-term goal of the Laboratory for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience at Drexel University College of Medicine is to investigate and understand the key issue of neural control of movement: how different cellular, network and systems neural mechanisms are integrated across multiple levels of organization to produce motor behavior and to adapt this behavior to various external and internal conditions.

The Giszter Lab is studying methods of designing neuroprosthetics for neural recording and stimulation in spinal cord and cortex. The goal of experiments with new tools is to augment plasticity and improve function and skill, using measures of modularity.

Bone Biology

The Bone Biology Laboratory is dedicated to the study of bone quality, structure and adaptation during growth, aging and disease.

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