Mentor: Michael Lane
College of Medicine
"I applied to the Scholars program to develop a better understanding of the research process. I hope to be a physician one day and I think that it would be beneficial to understand how the work done in laboratories leads to the development of effective treatments. My goal for the academic year is to work hard on my project and to compose a research paper worthy of being published in a scientific journal."
- Respiratory plasticity in the brainstem following cervical spinal cord injury
- Golden Key International Honor Society, Spring 2011-present
- Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), Summer 2011
- University Scholars Program, Spring 2012-Spring 2013
- Alpha Epsilon Delta
- Society for Neuroscience
- General Chemistry Teaching Assistant
- Eastside High School Mentoring
- Radiology Department at Shands Hospital
Hobbies and Interests
High Cervical Spinal Cord Injury Results in Altered Distributions of Medullary Inspiratory and Expiratory Neuronal Activity
The purpose of this study is to investigate respiratory recovery, or “plasticity”, following cervical spinal cord injury (SCI). This will be done by observing the anatomical and functional changes of brainstem neurons that mediate respiratory activity. Normally, respiratory rhythm originates from neurons within the ventral respiratory column (VRC) in the medulla. These cells extend axonal projections to spinal neurons that control inspiratory and expiratory muscle activity. Interruption of these bulbospinal pathways following SCI is reflected by either respiratory arrest or altered patterns of ventilation. While numerous neuroplastic changes have been shown in spinal respiratory centers following SCI, it is unknown whether respiratory activity in the medulla is also affected. Preliminary data has revealed that brainstem neurons normally active during inspiration are instead active during the expiratory-phase in injured animals. Understanding this reorganization (role reversal) post-SCI is essential to identify the therapeutic potential and how treatments can be effectively targeted. Adult female Sprague-Dawley rats will be used in this study. They will receive a high cervical lateralized hemi-section (C2Hx). At 2 weeks (n= 6) or 12 weeks (n=6) post-SCI, electrophysiological mapping will be performed on medullary neurons active during respiration. The rats will be mapped under hypercapnic conditions to increase respiratory drive. For control, uninjured rats (n=6) will also be mapped under hypercapnic conditions. Electrodes will be inserted into multiple VRC locations (spaced 200 m and at depths ~500m apart), ipsilateral to the C2Hx, to determine whether inspiratory or expiratory activity is occurring at each site. External intercostal EMG recordings obtained simultaneously will confirm the phase of respiration. Using a barreled electrode, a neuroanatomical tracer will be delivered to the sites with either a green or red dye, for inspiratory or expiratory sites, respectively. Examining the traced sites histologically will allow an anatomical reconstruction of the neurons involved in respiratory activity.