Fred H. Gage, Ph.D.,
The Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA
The Gage Laboratory will study spinal cord injury using two newly developed themes. First, we are attempting to rescue damaged cells in the injured cord. We have developed a targeted delivery system to provide growth factors to compromised cells in the damaged cord. We are combining this delivery method with a specialized housing system for the injured animals that provides diverse opportunities for motor activity. The goal of this combined approach is to maximize the health of neurons that might otherwise die after injury, and provide them with significant sensory and motor input, to encourage formation of new connection and re-integration into the existing circuitry.
Our second approach is to study events that occur in the intact cord. We study the population of dividing progenitor cells in the intact spinal cord, in order to understand what parameters control their proliferation and differentiation, believing that we may ultimately be able to manipulate this endogenous pool of cells to replace those lost after injury to the cord.