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Marion Murray

Marion Murray, PhD

Professor Emerita

Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy


  • PhD in Physiology - University of Wisconsin

Marion Murray, PhD, was a professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine until her passing in September 2018.

Research Overview

Awards and Honors

  • Javits Neurosciences Investigator Award
  • Fogarty Fellowship
  • Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching: Graduate School
  • Research Achievement Award, MCP Hahnemann University

Service to the Research Community

  • NIH Study Sections
  • VA Office of Regeneration Research Advisory Board
  • Spinal Cord Research Foundation Advisory Board
  • Editorial boards: Experimental Neurology, Journal of Comparative Neurology, Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, Restorative Neurology, Neuroscience
  • Visiting scientist: Medical Research Council in London, National Defense Medical College in Taiwan, College de France in Paris

Research Interests

Basic mechanisms of neural plasticity that underlie recovery following injury, axonal regeneration, synaptic plasticity, recovery of function.


Dr. Murray's research focused on the basic mechanisms of neural plasticity that underlie the recovery of function after injury to the CNS. These mechanisms included collateral sprouting of intact axons in response to degeneration of converging projections, restitution of function through the use of redundant systems, and axonal growth that contributes to restoration of function.

She was particularly interested in the use of cellular transplants to encourage repair processes leading to recovery of sensorimotor and autonomic function. The transplants act by rescuing neurons that are destined to die and by permitting regeneration and sprouting of some axons into the transplant and, in some cases, into the host. The function that recovers in neonates includes locomotion that is adaptable and flexible. In adults with spinal lesions, cellular transplants also rescue axotomized neurons destined to die, but regeneration is much more modest. The functional recovery is also much poorer. Using cells genetically modified to secrete trophic factors increases neuronal survival, axonal regeneration and sprouting and functional recovery after spinal injury in adults. The motor recovery can be further enhanced by administration of agents, such as serotonin, that mimic transmitters that normally act as modulators of motor function, and by physical exercise programs.


Selected Publications

"Exercise induces cortical plasticity after neonatal spinal cord injury in the rat"
Kao T, Shumsky JS, Murray M, Moxon KA
J. Neurosci;29(23):7549-57, Jun 10, 2009.

"Nogo-66 receptor antagonist peptide (NEP1-40) administration promotes functional recovery and axonal growth after lateral funiculus injury in the adult rat"
Kao Y, Shumsky JS, Sabol MA, Kushner RA, Strittmatter S, Hamers FPT, Lee DHS, Rabacchi SA, Murray M
Exp. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 22: 262-278, 2008.

"The effect of cervical dorsolateral funiculotemy on reach-to-grasp function in the rat"
Stackhouse SK, Murray M, Shumsky JS
J. Neurotrauma 25:1039-1047, 2008.

"5HT Precursor loading enhances motor function after spinal cord contusion in adult rats"
Hayashi Y, Jacob S, Nothias J-M, McBride S, Olexa R, Simansky K, Murray M, Shumsky JS
Exp. Neurol. Submitted. 2007.

"Paralysis elicited by spinal cord injury evokes selective disassembly of neuromuscular synapses with and without terminal sprouting in ankle flexors of the adult rat"
Burns AS, Jawaid S, Zhong H, Yoshihara H, Bhagat S, Murray M, Roy RR, Tessler A, Son YJ.
J. Comp. Neurol. 500:116-133, 2007.

"Neurotrophic factors promote and enhance locomotor recovery in untrained spinalized cats";
Boyce VS, Tumolo MA, Fischer I, Murray M, Lemay MA
J. Neurophysiol. 98(4):1988-96, 2007.

"Role of the 5-HT2C receptor for improving weight supported stepping in adult rats spinalized as neonates"
Kao T, Shumsky JS, Jacob-Vadakot S, Himes BT, Murray M, Moxon KA
Brain Res. 1112:159-168, 2006.

"Combining motor training with transplantation of bone marrow stromal cells does not improve repair or recovery in rats with thoracic contusion injuries"
Yoshihama H, Shumsky J, Neuhuber B, Otsuka T, Fischer I, Murray M
Brain Research 1119:65-75, 2006.

"Combined effects of neurotrophin secreting transplants, exercise and serotonergic drug challenge improve function in spinal rats"
Nothias, J-M, Mitsui T, Shumsky JS, Fischer I, Antonacci MD, Murray M
Neurorehab Neur Rep. 19:296-312, 2005.

"Transplantation of neuronal and glial restricted precursors into contused spinal cord improves bladder and motor functions, decreases thermal hypersensitivity and modifies intraspinal circuitry"
Mitsui T, Shumsky JS, Lepore A, Murray M, Fischer I
J. Neurosci. 25: 9624-9636, 2005.

"Immunosuppression with either cyclosporine A or FK 506 promotes repair processes after spinal cord injury"
Hayashi Y, Shumsky JS, Connors T, Otsuka T, Fischer I, Tessler A, Murray M
J. Neurotrauma. 22:1267-1281, 2005.

"Recommended guidelines for studies of human subjects with spinal cord injury".
Anderson DK, Beattie M, Blesch A, Bresnahan J, Bunge M, Dietrich D, Dietz V, Dobkin B, Fawcett J, Fehlings M, Fischer I, Grossman R, Guest J, Hagg T, Hall ED, Houle J, Kleitman N, McDonald J, Murray M, Privat A, Reier P, Steeves J, Steward O, Tetzlaff W, Tuszynski MH, Waxman SG, Whittemore S, Wolpaw J, Young W, Zheng B
Spinal Cord 43: 453-458, 2005.

"Partial 5-HT1A receptor agonist activity by the 5-HT2C receptor antagonist SB 206,553 is revealed in rats spinalized as neonates"
Shumsky JS, Kao T, Amato N, Simansky K, Murray M, Moxon KA.
Exp Neurol. 191:361-365, 2005.

"Apparent diffusion coefficients within spinal cord transplants and surroundling white matter correlate with axonal dieback following injury"
Schwartz ED, Chin C-L, Shumsky JS, Jawad AF, Brown BK, Wehrli S, Tessler A, Murray M, Hackney DB.
Am. J. Neuroradiol 26:7-18, 2005.

"Alginate Encapsulated BDNF-Producing Fibroblast Grafts Permit Recovery of Function After Spinal Cord Injury in the Absence of Immune Suppression"
Tobias CA, Han SSW, Shumsky JS, Kim D, Tumolo M, Tessler A, Murray M
J. Neurotrauma. 22:138-157, 2005.

"Cellular transplants: steps toward restoration of function in spinal injured animals"
Murray M
Progress in Brain Research. 143:133-146, 2004.

"Towards a definition of recovery of function"
Murray M, Fischer I, Smeraski C, Tessler A, Giszter S
J. Neurotrauma. 21:405-413, 2004.

"Regeneration and sprouting in the injured spinal cord"
Murray M, Tobias CA
Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. 8:37-51, 2003.

"Delayed transplantation of fibroblasts genetically modifie to secrete BDNF and NT-3 into a spinal cord injury site is associated with limited recovery of function"
Shumsky JS, Tobias CA, Tumolo M, Long WD, Giszter SF, Murray M
Exp. Neurol. 187:114-124, 2003.

"Delayed grafting of BDNF and NT-3 producing fibroblasts into the injured spinal cord stimulates sprouting, partially rescues axotomized red nucleus neurons from loss and atrophy and provides limited regeneration"
Tobias CA, Shumsky JS, Shibata M, Tuszynski MH, Fischer I, Tessler A, Murray M
Exp. Neurol. 184:97-113, 2003.

"Ex vivo MR determined apparent diffusion coefficients correlate with motor recovery mediated by intraspinal transplants of fibroblasts genetically modified to express BDNF"
Schwartz ED, Shumsky JS, Wehrli S, Tessler A, Murray M, Hackney DB
Experimental Neurology. 182:49-63, 2003.

"Grafts of BDNF-producing fibroblasts that promote regeneration of axotomized rubrospinal neurons also rescue most neurons from retrograde death and prevent their atrophy"
Liu Y, Himes BT, Murray M, Tessler A, Fischer I
Experimental Neurol. 178:150-164, 2002.

"Transplantation of genetically modified cells contributes to repair and recovery from spinal injury"
Murray M, Kim D, Liu Y, Tobias C, Tessler A, Fischer I
Brain Res. Reviews 40:292-300, 2002.

"Cellular transplants: steps toward restoration of function in spinal injured animals"
Murray M
Progress in Brain Research, 2002.

"Transplantation of genetically modified fibroblasts expressing BDNF in adult rats with a subtotal hemisection improves specific motor and sensory functions"
Kim D, Schallert T, Liu Y, Browarak T, Nayeri N, Tessler A, Fischer I, Murray M
Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 15:141-150, 2001.

"Grafting of encapsulated BDNF-producing fibroblasts into the injured spinal cord without immune suppression in adult rats"
Tobias CA, Dhoot, NO, Wheatley MA, Tessler A, Murray M and Fischer I
J. Neurotrauma. 18:287-301, 2001.

"Transplantation and gene therapy: combined approaches for repair of spinal cord injury"
Murray M and Fischer I
The Neuroscientist. 7:28-41, 2001.

"Direct agonists for serotonin (5-HT 2) receptors enhance locomotor function in rats that received neural transplants after neonatal spinal transection"
Kim D, Adipudi V, Giszter S, Shibayama M, Tessler A, Murray M, Simanksy KJ
J. Neurosci. 19:6213-24, 1999.

"Transplants of fibroblasts genetically modified to express BDNF promote regeneration of adult rat rubrospinal axons"
Liu Y, Kim D, Himes BT, Chow SY, Schallert T, Murray M, Tessler A, Fischer I
J. Neurosci. 19:4370-87, 1999.

"Fetal transplants alter the development of function after spinal cord transection in newborn rats"
Miya D, Tessler A, Giszter, S, Mori F, Murray M
J. Neurosci. 17:4856-72, 1997.


Eds. Ingoglia N, Murray M.Axonal Regeneration in the Vertebrate CNS. Marcel Dekker. New York, 2001.

Eds. Ingoglia N, M Murray. Therapies to promote CNS repair in Axonal Regeneration in the Central Nervous System. Marcel Dekkar. NYC, 2001.

Eds. Goldberger ME, Gorio A, Murray M. Development and Plasticity of the Mammalian Spinal Cord. Liviana Press. Italy, 1985.

Contact Information

Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy
2900 W. Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215.991.8308
Fax: 215.843.9082