Lorne M. Mendell, Ph.D.,
State University of New York Stony Brook, NY
The focus of the Mendell laboratory is the electrophysiology of the spinal cord. At present we are evaluating the functional effect of various potential therapies, specifically the effect of neurotrophins and the effect of training, on the properties of neurons and synapses in the spinal cord. We study both neonatal and adult spinal cord of the rat. The neonatal rat spinal cord is a useful model because it is very plastic and reveals mechanisms that are expected to be useful in repairing the adult spinal cord. The adult spinal cord provides a more realistic model of the injured human spinal cord.
Present and proposed projects include examining the effects of neurotrophins in recovery of function through a partially damaged region in neonatal spinal cord injury models with a view towards applying these to the adult cord. We are also investigating the effect of training paradigms (stepping; standing) on neural circuits in the lumbar cord after low thoracic transection. Another general aim is to evaluate the efficacy of novel ways of administering agents either peripherally or intrathecally using genetically engineered cells.
We will collaborate with other members of the Reeve Foundation International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury to help evaluate the functional effects of their treatments designed to improve behavioral recovery from spinal damage. We expect that these experiments will help explain mechanisms underlying behavioral improvements after procedures shown to improve elongation of spinal axons.