Cell injury and repair strategies

Mechanism of blast-induced neurotrauma

Blast-related neurotruama is quickly becoming one of the most frequently seen injuries in military personnel.  Persistent symptoms such as headaches sleep disturbance, and light and noise sensitivities are reported from individuals exposed to blasts. Cognitive functions (attention, memory, language, and problem solving skills) also appear to be disrupted.  Furthermore, behavioral symptoms such as impulsiveness, and emotional changes such as depression and anxiety are of significant concern (Okie S, N Engl J Med, 2005).

Our research focuses on neurotrauma due to blast overpressure exposure.  We investigate several aspects of the brain trauma from the sub-cellular to the tissue level. We are examining the effects of overpressure on individual brain cell types (neurons and glial cells).  We are interested in solving the fundamental questions concerning the mode of blast energy transfer to the brain as well as the consequent damage or disruptive mechanisms at the cellular level.  Our research is innovative because it integrates the fields of biomechanics and neuroscience, which is necessary to understand the mechanism behind blast-related neurotrauma. We hope that investigating the mechanism of overpressure injury will provide the groundwork for reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with blast neurotrauma.   

  • Shock Tube Model
    • Biomechanics of Shock Wave  
    • Overpressure-Related Neurotrauma
  • Barochamber Cellular Injury Model

Biomaterials and tissue regeneration

After traumatic injuries occur, promoting tissue repair and regeneration is vital for restoring function.  In order to help support the repair and regeneration processes, we are studying novel biomaterials strategies that incorporate chemical and physical cues to more effectively advance clinical outcomes. The focus of our biomaterials research group includes studies in both the central and peripheral nervous systems.  In addition, we are interested in bridging this work to orthopaedic materials.  We are proposing new concepts to treat damaged peripheral nerves.  Our laboratory is using state-of-the-art equipment such as an electrospinner to engineer nanoscale biomaterials for nerve conduits.  Furthermore, it is essential to examine the neuronal and glial cell response to these novel biomaterials.  Similar techniques are being utilized to fabricate biomimetic materials for bone grafting.  Natural biomaterials currently lack the strength to be used for supporting load bearing bone.  Our novel techniques are improving the strength of these biodegradable materials.  Additional studies investigate biomaterial options for neural implants and effects surface topography will have on neuronal and glial cells actions.  Collectively, we are striving to improve the reparative process in bone and nervous tissue that has been injured.  Novel biodegradable and biomimetric materials are being optimized to improve functional recovery.

  • Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
  • Biomimetic Bone Grafts    
  • Modification of Materials for Glial Scar Reduction