Research

Research interests 

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 bacteria in the intestine. Based on the newly gained understanding of plasticity we then aim to develop treatments to improve recovery following spinal cord injuries.

 

Methodology

 

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.


Facilities


Our laboratory consists of two wetlabs, a student area, a microscopy dedicaded space with confocal and epifluorescence Microscopes, a Cryoviz for automated histological processing, a behavioral testing (sensory and motor) area, kinematics, electrophysiological equipment and surgical facilities.

 

 

Projects

 

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

 

 

Funding

We would like to acknowledge generous funding support over the last years