Researchers Receive New Defense Funding for Axon Regeneration and Spinal Cord Injury Research

June 2013 – A consortium of discovery science researchers within The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis has received a $2.5 million, 18-month grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Titled “U.S. Army Battlefield Exercise & Combat Related SCI,” the award will enable the investigation of new treatments for spinal cord injury (SCI).

A multidisciplinary team of researchers including Jae Lee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, Kevin Park, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, John Bixby, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Pharmacology and Neurological Surgery, Vance Lemmon, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, Helen Bramlett, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, Dan Liebl, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, Pantelis Tsoulfas, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Departments of Neurological Surgery and Cell Biology and Anatomy, and W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project and the overall PI of the program, will participate in the Department of Defense (DOD) program.  Their research projects include determining the role of dependence receptors in regulating cell survival, testing a combination of protein kinase inhibitors to promote axonal regeneration, and enhancing neuron-intrinsic growth capacity to support axon re-growth.

Other projects include the use of antifibrinolytic agents and cytokine-mediated mobilization of mesenchymal stem cells to promote protection and repair after SCI. The program will support several critical scientific cores providing personnel and resources for animal surgical procedures, behavioral testing, morphology/neuroimaging and high content screening.

A newly acquired light sheet fluorescence microscope, which allows for imaging of whole intact tissues, will be an important component of this new program.

“This new DOD funding is extremely important,” Dietrich said. “It comes at a critical time in our research mission, when innovative hypotheses are being tested and new discoveries are being translated to our patients.”