RSD Program Director, Dr. David Fuller, has received a 2014 Neuroimaging Pilot Grant for a project titled “High Angular Resolution Imaging of Cervical Respiratory Pathway following Spinal Cord”. This collaborative work includes faculty from UF’s College of Medicine and College of Engineering.
The project combines expertise in SCI modeling and respiratory neurophysiology (D.D. Fuller, Dept. of Physical Therapy,), MRI imaging (J. Forder, Depts. of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering), mathematical assessment of MRI data (B. Vemuri, Dept. of Computer & Information Science & Engineering), and AAV gene therapy for neurological disorders (R. Mandel, Dept. of Neuroscience). Drs. Vemuri and Forder have recently developed novel computational methods for visualizing spinal axonal bundles using high angular resolution images (HARDI). The overarching goal of this project is to determine if these MRI tractography methods can quantify changes in axonal pathways to respiratory motoneurons following cervical SCI. Additionally, the group will couple the MRI imaging with an adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated approach designed to enhance axonal growth in spinal pathways. These spinal gene transfer experiments are designed to enhance respiratory plasticity and recovery, and to determine if the HARDI analysis methods can detect AAV-mediated changes in the spinal cord.
The McKnight Brain Institute provides the Neuroimaging Pilot Grants which were established to support pilot studies using the AMRIS facility or developing novel neuroimaging capabilities. Five winners were selected and will each receive $25,000 for one year.