Noam Y. Harel, MD, PhD
Associate Professor,
Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Staff Physician
James J. Peters VA Medical Center
(718) 584-9000 ext 1742

Dr. Harel is a neurologist and a molecular biologist who joined our clinical research Center in 2011. He obtained his BA, MD, and PhD degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a neurology residency at Columbia University/New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He is board certified in Adult Neurology, with sub-specialization in Neural Repair and Rehabilitation.

During seven years at Yale University, Dr. Harel’s utilized his expertise in molecular biology to focuse on cellular and genetic aspects of spinal cord injury and motor neuron disease in animal models. To translate these findings to humans, he shifted to clinical research. He runs several clinical research studies, staffs the VA’s multidisciplinary Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) clinic, and teaches at our academic affiliate, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Harel is an Assistant Professor, Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a Staff Physician at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.

Program goals (Scientific)
Dr. Harel’s research focuses on identifying spared nerve fibers after SCI, and strengthening those spared fibers with combinations of targeted exercises and non-invasive brain stimulation. To conduct these studies, Dr. Harel has expanded our Center’s capability to measure neurological outcomes such as electromyography, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electrical nerve stimulation, and computerized posturography. See the links below for more information about specific neurorehabilitation program clinical studies.

Program goals (Lay)
The spinal cord consists of a soft bundle of nerves protected by the bones of the spine.  After spinal trauma or disease, many of those nerves can be lost. But in most cases, even in a majority of individuals with complete paralysis, at least some of the nerve circuits in the spinal cord may continue to function across the injury. It may be possible to improve function by strengthening these spared nerve circuits with targeted treatments.

Dr. Harel’s research focuses on strengthening nerve connections after SCI. These strategies use the principle of ‘Fire Together, Wire Together’: When nearby nerves fire together repeatedly, connections between those nerves strengthen. The team uses two different approaches to get nerves to fire together. One approach uses specific combinations of physical exercises. Another approach uses specific combinations of magnetic and electrical brain and nerve stimulation. The objective of Dr. Harel’s research initiative is to develop effective and affordable treatments for persons with spinal cord injury that can be administered in the home setting and result in long-lasting improvement of neurological and muscular function.



Relevant Publications

  1. Harel NY, Strittmatter SM. Can regenerating axons recapitulate developmental guidance during recovery from spinal cord injury? Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Aug;7(8):603-616.

  1. Harel NY, Song KH, Tang X, Strittmatter SM. Nogo receptor deletion and multimodal exercise improve distinct aspects of recovery in cervical spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma. 2010 Nov;27(11):2055-2066.


  1. Harel NY, Yigitkanli K, Fu Y, Cafferty WB, Strittmatter SM. Multimodal Exercises Simultaneously Stimulating Cortical and Brainstem Pathways after Unilateral Corticospinal Lesion. Brain research 2013, 1538:17-25.


  1. Harel NY, Asselin PK, Fineberg DB, Pisano TJ, Bauman WA, Spungen, AM. Adaptation of Computerized Posturography to Assess Seated Balance in Persons with Spinal Cord Injury. J Spinal Cord Med. 2013, 36:127-33.


  1. Harel NY, Carmel JB. Paired stimulation to promote lasting augmentation of corticospinal circuits. Neural Plasticity 2016, in press.

Harel NY, Martinez SA, Knezevic S, Asselin PK, Spungen AM. Acute changes in soleus H-reflex facilitation and central motor conduction after targeted physical exercises. J. Electromyogr. Kinesiol. 2015, 25(3):438-43.