Laboratory research in the basic sciences related to spinal cord injury or disease.

Connectivity Mapping of Neural Stem Cells for Restoring Locomotor Function
Jennifer Dulin PhD
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

Neural stem cells transplanted into sites of spinal cord injury (SCI) give rise to new neurons that can replace lost spinal cord tissue. These graft-derived neurons integrate into the injured adult nervous system, forming new neural circuits with potential to restore lost neurological function. However, there are many different subtypes of graft-derived neurons, and it remains unclear which of these are most critical for restoring specific circuits. The overall goal of this project is to define the key classes of graft-derived neurons that are best equipped to restore locomotor circuitry after SCI. We will identify specific neuron classes that directly synapse onto host spinal cord motor neurons, and test whether these subtypes can transmit descending motor signals across sites of complete SCI. In this way, this project will establish a new framework defining the most functionally important types of graft-derived neurons with potential to improve motor outcomes.