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Our Scientific Cores

[ale_toggle title=”Administrative and Financial Core” state=”closed”] Director: Susan Harkema, PhD

The Administrative Research Support Core is responsible for oversight of all translational research and programs. Administrative decisions are made by a senior faculty Leadership Team led by the Program Director. Monthly financial updates are made to all Principal Investogators and Core Directors for their individual projects and cores. [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Biorepository (Human and Animal)” state=”closed”] Director: Jon Klein, MD, PhD

Currently, we do not have a repository to store biological specimens from humans with SCI or from animal models of SCI. An SCI biorepository will provide specimens for future studies as new methodologies emerge. We propose to assemble specimens (plasma, serum, white blood cells, urine, and potentially tissue samples) from patients with SCI and similar specimens from animal studies. These specimens will be essential to the proposed projects focused on the discovery of biomarkers. [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Omics Core (Human and Animal)” state=”closed”] Director: Jon Klein, MD, PhD

This core will provide integrated analysis of proteins and metabolites using current proteomic and metabolomic methods. A “big data” approach to systems biology is essential to understanding complex problems such as SCI. As such, this core will apply and integrate omics technologies and develop trans-omics data mining approaches to maximize the value of discovery from the omics datasets that are available to the SCI research community. Goals of this core are to: 1) discover biomarkers that predict SCI severity and recovery in patients as well as in animal models; 2) identify candidate biomarkers of life-threatening infection; 3) develop novel therapeutics and therapies; and 4) partner with the Pilot Project Grants program to train mentees and mentors in state-of-the-art omics project design and experimentation. [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Engineering and Informatics Core” state=”closed”] Director: Rob Keynton, PhD

This core will provide investigators timely access to advanced technological solutions and methodologies. This core will utilize current faculty and staff to provide engineering support to the Signature and Pilot Project teams as well as the other cores. The Engineering and Informatics Core will design, develop and construct devices, sensors, software, imaging systems, data management methodologies and systems, information technology, data analysis and interpretation, and novel therapeutic delivery systems based on the specific needs of the project teams and cores, to accelerate the rate of discovery and improve the quality of life of the spinal cord injured patients. In addition, this Core will partner with the program leadership team to assist in integrating the biomarker, electrophysiological, metabolic and clinical information acquired from this project with longitudinal data collected from the NACTN registry. This Core will also develop and implement new algorithms to mine the data and identify patterns between patients. The faculty and staff will be engaged on an ‘as needed’ basis dependent on specific project needs. Engineering trainees will be integrated into the various projects to provide them with practical “hands on” training in clinical and basic science research to foster innovation, cross-disciplinary interactions, and enhance the trainees’ problem solving, team building and communication skills. [/ale_toggle] [ale_divider style=”dashed” text=”textcenter”] Human Cores (Director: Susan Harkema, PhD) [/ale_divider] [ale_toggle title=”Medical Monitoring” state=”closed”] Directors: Camilo Castillo, MD and Susan Harkema, PhD

Supports all surgical procedures and post-operative care; provides medical oversight during epidural stimulation and activity-based interventions; supports research medical procedures; management and processing of human and porcine blood, urine and tissues; IRB and FDA regulatory [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Electrophysiology and Neuroimaging” state=”closed”] Director: Maxwell Boakye, MD

Provides electrophysiological motor and sensory assessments and magnetic resonance imaging for human and porcine studies.

Core Manager and Contact: Manpreet Chopra

Assessments: FNPA; SSEP; SSR; TMS, Ulnar, GVS, ASR Stim; Cord MRI

[/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Cardiovascular and Pulmonary” state=”closed”] Director: Alex Ovechkin, MD, PhD

Provides state-of-the-art assessments specific to cardiovascular and pulmonary function.

Core Manager and Contact: Eddie Brown

Assessments: CV-OH, CV-OH with Catecholamines Blood Draw, RMCA, PFT, VO2 Max, Resting Metabolic Rate, Transcranial Doppler, Pulse Wave, 24 Hour Automatic Blood Pressure Monitoring

[/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Urogenital and Bowel” state=”closed”] Director: Charles Hubscher, PhD

Provides state-of-the-art assessments specific to bladder and gastrointestinal function. Data collected follow the standards set forth by published International Spinal Cord Injury Data Sets for lower urinary tract function, urodynamics, bowel function, and male/female sexual function. Urodynamic study, for example, includes an initial measurement of the urinary flow (uroflow: voided volume, maximum flow rate, time to maximum flow rate and total voiding time) followed by cystometry evaluation using standard procedures (measuring bladder pressure during filling, possible uninhibited bladder contraction and maximum cystometric capacity), with determination of the leak point pressure and post-void residual volume when voiding is possible. For sexual function, measurements include the International Index of Erectile Function Questionnaire for male subjects which contain five unique domains, including erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function, sexual desire, and overall satisfaction and the Female Sexual Function Index which contains six index scores in the categories of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.

Core Manager and Contact: April Herrity, DC, PhD

Assessments: Urodynamics, sexual function questionnaire, bowel program diary, bladder diary

[/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Neuromuscular and Skeletal” state=”closed”] Director: Enrico Rejc, PhD

This core will provide assessments specific to: in-vivo skeletal muscle contractile properties, architecture, volume and oxidative capacity; dietary intake, energy expenditure and oxidative metabolism at rest and during exercise; bone density and total body fat mass and fat-free mass.

Core Manager and Contact: Kelly Ancel

Assessments: Echocardiogram, Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, Muscle MRI, Biodex Assessment, DEXA, Skinfolds

[/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Human Locomotion and Movement Performance” state=”closed”]

Director: Susan Harkema, PhD

Provides assessment of movement and locomotion function.

Core Manager and Contact: Andrea Willhite

Assessments: EMG Baseline with kinematics and force; EMG Stand and Step with kinematics and force; Gait Analysis

[/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Translational Animal Models” state=”closed”]



Core Manager and Contact:


[/ale_toggle] [ale_divider style=”dashed” text=”textcenter”] Animal Cores (Director: Scott Whittemore, PhD) [/ale_divider] [ale_toggle title=”Surgical and Animal Care” state=”closed”] Director: David Magnuson, PhD

Provides training and assistance with all surgical procedures and post-operative care, including development of new surgical techniques; oversees collection of fluids and/or tissues for biomarker assessment. [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Behavioral and Physiological Assessment” state=”closed”] Director: David Magnuson, PhD

Provides assistance with: locomotor assessments for rats and mice; gait and kinematic assessments of stepping and other specific activities; electrophysiological assessments of SCI; standardized assessments of sensory function; and physiological measures for cardiovascular and pulmonary assessment. [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Cell and Tissue Imaging” state=”closed”] Director: James Hoying, PhD

Provides consultation prior to histological tissue and cell preparation to ensure appropriate and sensitive detection of desired neurobiological endpoints that will provide accurate images for analyses; oversees and assists PIs in microscopic imaging of these readouts and provides consultation on appropriate analyses; and develops novel microscopy-based endpoint measures of the pathobiology of central nervous system trauma, as well as the evaluation of the efficacy of putative therapeutics. [/ale_toggle] [ale_toggle title=”Metabolics” state=”closed”] Director: Shirish Barve, PhD

The Metabolic Core will provide the investigators of the Helmsley Restorative Medicine projects standardized, quality-controlled metabolic, inflammatory and physiologic phenotyping investigations for both mouse and rat models of SCI-mediated metabolic and inflammatory disorders. A range of assays and investigative tools to characterize carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, immune deregulation and inflammatory responses, insulin resistance, liver function, metabolic fluxes, and morphology/histology indices impacting cardiovascular disease will be established to conduct in vivo and ex vivo experiments in the SCI animal models. Overall, the Metabolic Core will support experimental approaches to elucidate subtle to pronounced traits that underlie the pathogenesis of cardio-metabolic disease emerging in the context of SCI. [/ale_toggle]