Research Interests:The nervous system is viewed as having plasticity, that inherent ability to adapt both structurally and functionally to injury or disease. In my laboratory, we are taking two approaches to address this issue. First, we are studying the role that growth factors and their receptors play during the generation of new axonal processes. Specifically, we wish to understand the mechanisms that govern the aberrant growth of sympathetic axons in response to elevated levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) in two animal models characterized by NGF-induced sympathetic sprouting: 1) peripheral nerve injury that results in the development neuropathic pain and 2) inflammatory conditions in the skin and bowels. Second, we are studying how grafting different cell types into the injured spinal cord of adult rats can enhance both axonal growth and functional recovery. In addition to conventional microscopic examination, we are using proteomics and transgenic technologies to address these issues of neural repair. By examining these different neuropathological conditions, we hope to discover therapeutic strategies that will ameliorate disease-associated aberrant sympathetic sprouting and thus lessen the consequences that arise from peripheral nerve injury and hypertension.
Sources of Research Funds: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.