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Veronica Tom

Veronica Tom, PhD

Associate Professor

Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy


  • BS in Neural Science - New York University
  • PhD in Neurosciences - Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Tom is an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy.

Research Interests

Modulation of extrinsic and intrinsic factors to promote axonal regeneration and plasticity


Injury to the spinal cord interrupts input to and from the brain. Because adult central nervous system axons fail to fully regenerate following injury, severed axons are permanently disconnected from their target neurons. This results in deficits in voluntary (e.g., walking) and involuntary (e.g., diaphragmatic activity for respiration) motor function, autonomic function (e.g., cardiovascular regulation, bladder function) and sensation. There are several obstacles that impede successful regeneration. Firstly, adult axons have a diminished intrinsic capacity for regenerating. Secondly, a glial scar forms at the injury site. The scar is rich in growth inhibitory molecules that act as chemical barriers to regeneration.

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

Currently there are two main areas of research focus in the lab:

  1. Combining enhancement of the intrinsic abilities of mature neurons and modification of the inhibitory lesion matrix to promote axonal regeneration
  2. Promoting recovery of autonomic function after spinal cord injury

Projects currently funded by:

  • National Institutes of Health
  • Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program / Department of Defense

In the Media


"Soluble TNFα signaling within the spinal cord contributes to the development of autonomic dysreflexia and ensuing vascular and immune dysfunction after spinal cord injury"
Mironets E, Osei-Owusu P, Bracchi-Ricard V, Fischer R, Owens EA, Ricard J, Wu D, Saltos T, Collyer E, Hou S, Bethea JR, Tom VJ
J. Neurosci. In Press. (2018)

"Surgical techniques influence local environment of injured spinal cord and cause various grafted cell survival and integration"
Hou S, Saltos TM, Iredia I, Tom VJ
J. Neurosci. Methods. 293: 144-150. (2018)

"Local delivery of minocycline from metal ion-assisted self-assembled complexes promotes neuroprotection and functional recovery after spinal cord injury"
Wang Z, Nong J, Shultz RB, Zhang Z, Kim T, Tom VJ, Ponnappan RK, Zhong Y
Biomaterials 112: 62-71. (2017)

"Combining expressing constitutively-active Rheb expression and chondroitinase promotes functional axonal regeneration after cervical spinal cord injury"
Wu D, Klaw MC, Connors T, Kholodilov N, Burke RE, Côté MP, Tom VJ
Molecular Therapy 25: 2715-2726. (2017)

"Dopamine is produced in the rat spinal cord and regulates micturition reflex after spinal cord injury"
Hou S, Carson DM, Wu D, Klaw MC, Houle JD, Tom VJ
Exp. Neurol. 285: 136-146, 2016

"Expressing constitutively active Rheb in adult dorsal root ganglion neurons enhances the integration of sensory axons that regenerate across a chondroitinase-treated dorsal root entry zone following dorsal root crush"
Wu D, Klaw MC, Kholodilov N, Burke RE, Detloff MR, Cote MP, Tom VJ
Front. Mol. Neurosci. 9:49, 2016

"Local delivery of minocycline from metal ion-assisted self-assembled complexes promotes neuroprotection and functional recovery after spinal cord injury"
Wang Z, Nong J, Shultz RB, Zhang Z, Kim T, Tom VJ, Ponnappan RK, Zhong Y
1112: 62-71, 2016

"Report of the National Eye Institute Audacious Goals Initiative: Regenerating the Optic Nerve"
Goldberg JL, Guido W, Tom V and the AGI Workshop Participants
Invest. Opthalmol. Vis. Sci. 57: 1271-1275, 2016

"Cardiovascular dysfunction following spinal cord injury"
Partida E, Mironets E, Hou S, Tom VJ
Neural Regen. Res. 11: 189-194, 2016

"Manipulating extrinsic and intrinsic obstacles to axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury"
Mironets E, Wu D, Tom VJ
Neural Regen. Res. 11: 189-194, 2016

"Expressing constitutively-active Rheb in adult neurons after a complete spinal cord injury enhances axonal regeneration beyond a chondroitinase-treated glial scar"
Wu D, Klaw MC, Connors T, Kholodilov N, Burke RE, Tom VJ
J. Neurosci. 35:11068-11080, 2015

"Pharmacologically inhibiting kinesin-5 activity with monastrol promotes axonal regeneration following spinal cord injury"
Chen X, Klaw MC, Lemay MA, Baas PW, Tom VJ
Exp. Neurol. 263: 172-176, 2015

"Partial restoration of cardiovascular function by embryonic neural stem cell grafts after complete spinal cord transection"
Hou S, Tom VJ, Graham L, Lu P, Blesch A
J. Neurosci. 33: 17138-17149, 2013

"Intraspinal AAV injections immediately rostral to a thoracic spinal cord injury site efficiently transduces neurons in spinal cord and brain"
Klaw MC, Xu C, Tom VJ
Molecular Therapy Nucleic Acids. 2: e108, 2013

"Exogenous BDNF enhances function of axons regenerating through a peripheral nerve “bridge” grafted into a chondroitinase-treated spinal cord injury site"
Tom VJ, Sandrow-Feinberg HR, Miller K, Bouyer J, Zhukareva V, Domitrovich C, Lemay MA, Houle JD
Exp. Neurol. 239:91-100, 2013

"Combining peripheral nerve grafts and chondroitinase promotes functional axonal regeneration in the chronically injured spinal cord"
Tom VJ, Sandrow-Feinberg HR, Miller K, Santi L, Connors T, Lemay MA, Houle JD
J. Neurosci. 29:14881-90, 2009

"Administration of chondroitinase ABC rostral or caudal to a spinal cord injury site promotes anatomical but not functional plasticity"
Tom VJ, Kadakia R, Santi L, Houle JD
J. Neurotrauma 26:2323-33, 2009

"Intraspinal microinjection of chondroitinase ABC following injury promotes axonal regeneration out of a peripheral nerve graft bridge"
Tom VJ, Houle JD
Exp. Neurol. 211: 315-9, 2008

"Combining an autologous peripheral nervous system "bridge" and matrix modification by chondroitinase allows robust, functional regeneration beyond a hemisection lesion of the adult rat spinal cord"
Houle JD, Tom VJ, Mayes D, Wagoner G, Phillips N, Silver J
J. Neurosci. 26: 7405-7415, 2006

"Chronic enhancement of the intrinsic growth capacity of sensory neurons combined with the degradation of inhibitory proteoglycans allows functional regeneration of sensory axons through the dorsal root entry zone in the mammalian spinal cord"
Steinmetz MP, Horn KP, Tom VJ, Miller JH, Busch SA, Nair D, Silver DJ, Silver J
J. Neurosci. 25: 8066-8076, 2005

"Astrocyte-associated fibronectin is critical for axonal regeneration in adult white matter"
Tom VJ, Doller CM, Malouf AT, Silver J
J. Neurosci. 24: 9282-9290, 2004

"Studies on the development and behavior of the dystrophic growth cone, the hallmark of regeneration failure, in an in vitro model of the glial scar and after spinal cord injury"
Tom VJ, Steinmetz MP, Miller JH, Doller CM, Silver J 
J. Neurosci. 24: 6531-6539, 2004

Contact Information

Research Office

Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy
2900 W. Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215.991.8401
Fax: 215.843.9082