Stroke causes ~144,000 deaths each year and is a leading cause of long-term adult disability in the US. Most strokes are caused when blood clots block blood vessels in the brain depriving neurons and support cells (called glia) of oxygen. Many neurons and glia will die, and those that survive often do not function properly. While drug treatment designed to dissolve the blood clot within a few hours of stroke can improve outcomes, less than 5% of stroke patients receive this treatment and many of those treated will still suffer from physical or mental disabilities. Therefore the development of therapies that can not only promote neuroprotection but also the formation of new neural circuits when delivered days or weeks after stroke, are of paramount importance.
I have recently initiated studies of stroke in my laboratory to test two complementary therapeutic approaches, a protein-based and a cell transplantation-based therapy, designed to promote recovery and repair after delayed administration in adult rodent models of stroke. Both approaches were originally developed in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Davies, Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, and have been shown to promote tissue repair and regeneration, plasticity, neuroprotection and restoration of function after traumatic spinal cord injury. I have been working in the field of spinal cord injury with Dr. Stephen Davies for the past 9 years. I also continue to work with Dr. Davies on spinal cord injury studies, with the overall goal of translating promising therapies for stroke or spinal cord injury to clinical trial.