Our research efforts focus on understanding the pathophysiology or disorders of the peripheral nerves and developing new techniques, devices, and medical treatments for tumors of the peripheral nerves, neuropathic pain and nerve regeneration after peripheral nerve injury.
Peripheral nerves relay information between the central nervous system and other organ systems in the body, and damage to these nerves results in loss of connections between the CNS and end organs. Following severe peripheral nerve injury, axonal regrowth is a slow process and the delay can result in decreased neurological and end-organ viability. Our research is focused on developing non-invasive methods to stimulate rapid nerve regrowth and improve functional recovery following injury and to understand the changes that occur at the electrophysiological and molecular levels when nerve growth is stimulated.
We are also working to develop new treatments for spinal cord dysfunction associated with cancer and nerve reconstruction for spinal cord injury.
Effect of CNS Stimulation on Functional Recovery of Peripheral Nerve Injury, and Analysis of Associated Electrophysiological, Molecular and Anatomic Changes
Prior work from our group evaluated and correlated clinical data from human patients with neuropathic pain to electrophysiological, immunohistochemical and gene expression data from donated tissue. This work, which was published in the journal Brain in 2019, demonstrated that spontaneous action potentials generated in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons are associated with neuropathic pain, and transcriptomics revealed specific genes and signaling pathways involved in immune response and neuronal plasticity that are involved in neuropathic pain. In a study published in the Journal of Pain, we demonstrated functional electrophysiological alterations in patient-derived DRG neurons, which are conserved between humans and rodent models of neuropathic pain. Our work published in Brain in 2023 demonstrated that significant sex-specific differences in differentially expressed genes exist, suggesting differences in underlying mechanisms of neuropathic pain in females versus males.