From Goldman Sachs to Walkabout Foundation: Carolina Gonzalez-Bunster

What limits and borders are we faced with as individuals, as a society? Who or what defines these boundaries? What are the results of these demarcations — demarcations as barriers that may even result in scientific and artistic limitations to us as individuals and society as a whole? Are they arbitrarily defined borders or are they erected due to their necessity? Are they obstacles or are they beneficial? And what happens if we overcome these borders?

The Walkabout Foundation Raises Funds for Spinal Cord Injury Research. Their supported scientists are:

Reggie Edgerton PhD
Dr. Edgerton’s laboratory is one of the acknowledged leaders in the field of activity-based rehabilitation. It focus on understanding the basic mechanisms of spinal learning, that is, how the spinal cord below the level of an injury can be trained to control muscles in the legs without input from the brain. For the first time ever, Dr. Edgerton’s lab has enabled rats with severed spinal cord to walk again using a combination of drug therapy, electrical stimulation, and exercise training. This proves very promising for human beings.

Edelle C. Field-Fote PhD, PT
The studies in the Neuromotor Rehabilitation Research Laboratory cross the boundaries of basic neurophysiology of the brain and spinal cord and applied neurophysiology related to neuroplasticity and motor learning. We want to understand which interventions best promote recovery of function. Some of the rehabilitation studies focus on recovery of hand and arm function, while others are aimed at walking function. In addition to the emphasis on promotion of functional movement, we are interested in understanding the changes that occur in the nervous system that make these improvements possible.

Brian R. Noga PhD
This research provides new insight into the processes of locomotion and the dynamic interactive nature of descending systems controlling this behavior. In addition, it also elucidates the mechanisms by which different neurotransmitters facilitate or enable walking. The results of these studies will lead to a better understanding of the major pathways and the key cells involved in the initiation and control of walking.

Vance Lemmon PhD
Our laboratory has developed methods to test hundreds of genes in hundreds of thousands of neurons each week and obtain quantitative information about cell morphology and gene expression. This “high throughput” capability allows us to tackle questions about development and regeneration using Systems Biology approaches. The biological problem we have focused on for the past six years has been to uncover genes that promote or prevent axon regeneration. The Lemmon-Bixby lab has four ongoing projects related to axon regeneration.

Jacqueline Sagen PhD, MBA
The field of neural transplantation has witnessed resurgence due to the potential for cellular implants to provide therapeutic benefits and restore function in the nervous system. The overall aim of research in my laboratory is the utilization of neural transplants to restore quality of life and alleviate suffering from the most devastating of human disorders resulting from injury to the nervous system.

Mary Bunge, PhD
Mary and her team have shown that genetic manipulation of Schwann cells following contusion injury to secrete a bi-functional neutrophin can dramatically increase the amount of axons available for transplant. Combining this with techniques to promote better grafting, they hope to facilitate better spinal cord recovery and improve locomotion for spinal cord injured patients.

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