Principal Investigators

Spinal COrd Damage Research Center circle of Investigators

 

William A. Bauman

Ann M. Spungen

Pierre Asselin, M.S..

John P Handrakis, P.T., D.P.T., Ed.D.

Mark A. Korsten, M.D.

Miroslav Radulovic, M.D.

Hesham Tawfeek, M.D.

 

Christopher P. Cardozo, M.D

Noam Y. Harel, M.D., Ph.D.

Michael F. La Fountaine, Ed.D., A.T.C.

Gregory J. Schilero, M.D.

Jill M. Wecht, Ed.D.

Weiping Qin, M.D., Ph.D.

 


About our Investigators

William A. Bauman, M.D.

Ann M. Spungen, Ed.D

Pierre Asselin, M.S.
Pierre Asselin is a bioengineer who is a co-investigator in the Physical Activity and Quality of Life Program that is studying the benefits of exoskeletal-assisted walking, under the direction of Dr. Spungen. Mr. Asselin is an authority on training persons with spinal cord injury to use the ReWalk and other exoskeletal devices and is responsible for collecting information on its health benefits, including soft tissue body composition, muscle strength, and lower extremity and nervous system function. He has a special interest in the biomechanics of ambulation.

Christopher P. Cardozo, M.D.
Dr. Cardozo leads the Molecular Musculoskeletal Program. He and his team investigate muscle and bone loss in pre-clinical models of spinal cord injury. His investigators study biochemical and molecular mechanisms responsible for these musculoskeletal changes using state-of-the-art methods.

John P Handrakis, P.T., D.P.T., Ed.D. 
Dr. Handrakis leads the Thermoregulation Program and is striving to better define the impairments that impede the ability to maintain core body temperature in persons with spinal cord injury. When placed in either a warm or cool environment, persons with spinal cord injury have been shown to have difficulty in regulating core body temperature. The effects of lowering or raising the body’s core temperature on cognitive function are being actively investigated by Dr. Handrakis and his team of investigators. Interventions to stabilize core body temperature, in either warm or cool environments, are also being tested.

Noam Y. Harel, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Harel leads the Neurological Rehabilitation Program that is actively testing novel approaches to strengthen the function of spinal nerves in an effort to improve motor function below the level of injury. This work involves the use of targeted physical exercises and the administration of magnetic and/or electrical nerve stimulation in an effort to strengthen spared nerve connections across spinal injuries. This work arose from pre-clinical research performed by Dr. Harel that demonstrated efficacy of this kind of approach.

Mark A. Korsten, M.D.
Dr. Korsten leads the Gastroenterology Program and addresses several aspects of upper (stomach and esophagus) and lower (colon) bowel function in persons with spinal cord injury. The inability to move one’s bowels and the loss of control over defecation are two well recognized problems that occur in those with spinal cord injury. Dr. Korsten’s work has been successful with implementing the use of a pharmacological approach to stimulate bowel evacuation. He and his team are working on developing a biofeedback approach to permit better control over defecation in those with incomplete spinal injury. Esophageal dysfunction is also a problem that has not been previously recognized before the work of Drs. Korsten and Radulovic, but frequently occurs in persons with spinal cord injury, leading Dr. Korsten and colleagues to test appropriate interventions to improve esophageal motility.

Michael F. La Fountaine, Ed.D., A.T.C.
Dr. La Fountaine is a principal investigator in the Center’s Endocrine Program.  His research focuses on how autonomic nervous system dysfunction contributes to the deleterious metabolic and hormonal changes that occur and emerge in the cardiovascular system in persons with spinal cord injury. His current work evaluates the role of insulin resistance and interrupted sub-lesional sympathetic nervous system function on cutaneous blood flow.  Dr. La Fountaine is also studying how autonomic nervous system dysfunction contributes to abnormal serum lipid concentrations. His ultimate goal is to identify targeted pharmaceutical interventions that are safe and effective at ameliorating the burden of these adverse changes in an effort to optimize cardiovascular function and health.

Miroslav Radulovic, M.D.
Dr. Radulovic is Co-Director of the Pulmonary Program and is defining the cause and problems related to inflammation of the lungs. Persons with spinal cord injury have an asthma-like condition that was originally believed to be purely neurological, or nerve-related, in origin, but recent evidence suggests that the airway is also inflamed. Dr. Radulovic is studying reasons why this inflammation of the airway is present and then will test approaches to diminish its occurrence. One of the leading theories that Dr. Radulovic is testing is the possibility that backflow from the stomach into the lungs may be causing inflammation of the lining of the airways, contributing to the asthma-like condition that our investigators initially described in the early 1990s.

Gregory J. Schilero, M.D.
Dr. Schilero leads the Pulmonary Program and identifies breathing problems related to weak or partially paralyzed muscles, causing these persons to have the inability, or a much decreased ability, to cough and/or exhale forcefully. An absent or reduced cough will lead to the inability to clear lung secretions and may result in infections, such as bronchitis and/or pneumonia.

Hesham Tawfeek, M.D.
Dr. Tawfeek leads a division of the Molecular Musculoskeletal Program. In pre-clinical models, he and his team investigate the causes of bone loss under various conditions, the communication between the skeleton and immune systems, and the effect of various hormones, especially parathyroid hormone, on bone health. Dr. Tawfeek is employing various sophisticated molecular approaches to define mechanisms of action of hormones that build bone in the anticipation of designing medications that will preserve bone after acute spinal cord injury, and/or restore skeletal integrity if bone is already lost.

Jill M. Wecht, Ed.D.
Dr. Wecht is the principal investigator for the Cardiovascular Autonomic Program.  Her work focuses on defining the degree of impairment in control of blood pressure and heart rate after a spinal cord injury. One theory is that when blood pressure is too low the brain may not receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients to function optimally, potentially leading to cognitive impairments.

Weiping Qin, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Qin is a Principal Investigator in the Neuro-musculoskeletal Research Program, with the goal to improve musculoskeletal quality and function, and a related goal to preserve neurological function after acute spinal cord injury. This work has the potential to be rapidly translated to clinical medicine, and thus permit those with spinal cord injury to have a greater likelihood of being ability to participate in the new, exciting rehabilitation strategies with the required muscle and bone strength below the level of lesion. Dr. Qin has integrated multidisciplinary approaches into his research initiatives, including those of molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, preclinical animal models, bioinformatics, bone biology, stem cell biology, and nanomedicine.

William A. Bauman M.D. John P. Handrakis P.T., D.P.T., Ed.D. Jill M. Wecht, Ed.D Miroslav Radulovic, M.D. Greg Sshlero, M.D. Ann M. Spungen, Ed.D Christopher Cardozo, M.D. Weiping Qin, M.D., Ph.D. Mark Korsten, M.D. Noam Harel, M.D., Ph.D. endocrine studies thermo-regulation studies cardiovascular - autonomic studies pulmonary studies physical activity - exsoskeletal assisted walking studies molecular musculoskeletal studies gaastrointestinal studies neuro rehabilitation studies