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2013 Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research

Principal Investigator:
  • Frederic Bretzner, CHUQ Research Centre, Laval University
  • Barbara Turnbull Foundation

Project Overview

Although the spinal cord contains all the circuitry necessary for locomotion, due to the absence of commands from the brain, people with spinal cord injuries are unable to walk. Motor recovery can be partially achieved by strategies or therapies intended to regenerate axons from the brain to the spinal cord. Some of these approaches have reported such promising results in animal models that clinical trials are currently underway. However, a major obstacle to achieving this goal is the lack of identification and characterization of appropriate targets at the brain and spinal cord levels, as well as the lack of knowledge of the mechanisms of plasticity of these targets. Dr. Bretzner’s project aims to investigate the pathways between the brain and the spinal cord that are important for initiation and modulation of locomotion. This will allow for the identification and characterization of the nervous circuits that need to be repaired in order to improve functional recovery following spinal cord injury or neurotrauma affecting gait.