The Fouad Lab is exploring adaptive mechanisms (plasticity) that occur following spinal cord injury and how they influence recovery. Such plasticity mechanisms include, sprouting of nerve fibers, oxygenation of the spinal cord, and even changes in the gut bacteria. Based on the newly gained understanding of plasticity we then aim to develop treatments to improve recovery following spinal cord injuries.
ODC-SCI is a cloud-based community-driven repository to store, share, and publish spinal cord injury research data. The spirit of the ODC-SCI is to promote open exchange of data, tools and ideas in order to accelerate treatments and cures for spinal cord injury Dr. Fouad is also the Co-Director of “The Open Data Commons for Spinal Cord Injury".
Together with collaborators our group applies a variety of methods. We are working with animal models and are specialized on functional outcome measures and rehabilitative training with a focus on forelimb motor function. We have developed various automated approaches to deliver food pellets to train reaching, grasping and retrieval. We regularly apply electrophysiological techniques (like motor evoked potentials) and anatomical approaches (tract tracing and immunohistochemistry) to determine treatment success and mechanisms of recovery. Anatomical changes are determined using microscopy (e.g., confocal and bright field). Molecular approaches serve to devise new treatments and Cell cultures are used screen for efficacy before application in vivo models.
Our laboratories and behavioral testing (sensory and motor) areas are fully equipped for students to have a full range experience. For tissue processing we have dedicated spaces and designated storage to keep various experiments ongoing simultaneously. A microscopy dedicated room equipped with a confocal and epifluorescence Microscopes, a Cryoviz for automated histological processing, electrophysiological equipment and surgical facilities.
We are currently engaged in the following lines of research:
The role of gut microbiome imbalance in mental health changes after spinal cord injury
The plasticity promoting effect of Lipopolysaccharide
Using activity dependent neuronal pathways to promote neuroplasticity
Mechanisms of hypoxia in the injured spinal cord
Using a new drug called Pleiotrophin we attempt to locally enhance neuroplasticity
We would like to acknowledge generous funding support over the last years