Mentor: Dr. David Fuller
Warrington College of Business Administration
"I was excited by the opprotunity to gain valuable research experience, while working to contribute to scientific and medical knowledge."
Spinal Cord Neuroplasticity
Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries and Treatments
- Phi Delta Theta Fraternity
- Pre-Professional Service Organization
- Inter-Fraternity Council
- Gator Advocates for World Health
- Shands Hospital
- Camp Boggy Creek
- Children's Home Society
- Bread of the Mighty Food Bank
Hobbies and Interests
Effects of Intermittent Hypoxia Air Training and Intraspinal Delivery of Chondroitinase on Respiratory Recovery Following Cervical Spinal Cord Injury and Fetal Spinal Cord Transplantation
The phrenic motoneurons, responsible for controlling the diaphragm, are located in the mid-cervical (C3-C5) spinal cord. Consequently, spinal cord injuries above the C3 level result in diaphragm paralysis and impaired respiratory function. The initial damage caused by the injury can lead to cell death and disruption of neural pathways within the spinal cord. Further damage is caused by activation of secondary inflammatory processes and glial cell scarring. Scars around the injury site act as an impenetrable barrier for axon regeneration and secrete growth inhibiting molecules. One of the most studied treatments has been spinal cord transplantation. When transplanted to an SCI site, they can replace dead neurons and promote axon regeneration. Recently, the bacterial enzyme Chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) was shown to counteract these inhibitory molecules and reduce scar formation, thereby enhancing respiratory recovery. Another rehabilitative paradigm - daily exposure to mild intermittent hypoxia (IH) - has been shown to induce spinal cord plasticity and enhance recovery of breathing after injury. This project will utilize these treatments in combination to examine the effectiveness of IH training and ChABC on functional respiratory recovery after SCI. Coupling neuronal plasticity with IH rehabilitative training can drive activity-dependent strengthening of newly formed neuronal connections. Sprague Dawley rats as will receive a lateral hemisection injury at the second cervical spinal level (C2), followed by intraspinal injection of ChABC enzyme into the surrounding gray matter. Subjects will be divided into either a control group or an experimental group. The experimental group will be exposed to daily IH for 4-8 weeks (6 x 5min hypoxia episodes/day), while the control group will receive no IH training. Ventilation will be assessed at 5 and 10 weeks through whole-body plethysmography. Anatomical connectivity will be assessed at 10 weeks after SCI by neurophysiologic electrical recording.