Randall Carpenter, a fifth year NGP student, recently receieved an F31 predoctoral research fellowship award from the NIH. These fellowships are very prestigious and hard to get, as only about 23% of applicants receive funding. This fellowship is for two years of funding beginning summer 2017 for his work with Dr. Phil Popovich in collaboration with Dr. Adrienne Dourrance.
Randall's project is titled "Hematopoietic dysfunction and immune suppression after spinal cord injury". Read more below about Randall's work and the exciting implications it has for spinal cord injury research and treatment.
Infections pose a serious health concern for individuals living with spinal cord injury. How spinal cord injury suppresses immune function is not fully understood, but clinical evidence suggests that hematopoiesis, or the generation of immune cells in the bone marrow, may be disrupted. The goal of this project is to determine how spinal cord injury impairs hematopoiesis and discover new therapeutic strategies to reverse immune system dysfunction.
I have recently confirmed that spinal cord injury impairs the normal response of cells within the bone marrow. Based on current data, we believe that these impairments occur because spinal cord injury disrupts the ability of the central nervous system to communicate to bone marrow. This communication between the brain and bone is required for appropriate bone marrow responses to trauma, infection, and stress. Without this communication, blood stem cells can't migrate from the bone marrow and replenish immune cells throughout the body.
Because our focus is primarily on spinal cord injury, we have established a collaboration with Dr. Adrienne Dorrance, assistant professor in the Department of Hematology and an expert in bone marrow stem cell biology. Ongoing experiments are targeting the cellular and molecular mechanisms with the goal of improving the impaired bone marrow response after spinal cord injury. We hope to generate therapeutic strategies to reverse immune system dysfunction and improve the lives of individuals living with spinal cord injury.