The interview with Dr. Edgerton of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles was completed and posted today. Reggie received his Master’s degree from the University of Iowa and his PhD in Exercise Physiology from Michigan State University. Reggie’s work has been featured by CNN, USA Today, The New York Times, the LA Times, Popular Mechanics, and other media outlets. He has also co-authored two books entitled The Biology of Physical Activity and An Atlas of the Lesser Bushbaby. Reggie is here with us today to tell us all about his journey through life and science.
Two general questions are being studied in Reggie’s lab. One is, how, and to what extent, does the nervous system control protein expression in skeletal muscle fibers? These studies have shown that although the nervous system has a significant influence on the kind and amount of specific proteins synthesized, there are factors intrinsic to individual fibers that also define these properties. The results show also that the neural influence that is associated with muscle fiber types is probably not mediated via the amount or pattern of activity of the motor units.
A second, and general question is how the neural networks in the lumbar spinal cord of mammals, including humans, control stepping and how this stepping pattern becomes modified by chronically imposing specific motor tasks on the limbs after complete spinal cord injury. These studies have shown that the mammalian spinal cord can learn specific complex motor tasks such as standing and stepping.
Reggie’s lab has a very multidisciplinary and integrative approach to science. Their studies have a basic, as well as an applied aspect to them. There are many important, but unanswered questions about the plasticity of the neuromuscular system. Since the neural and the muscular systems are the primary systems that are responsible for the functional features of movement control, it is important to understand how they are defined and how they are modulated to become more or less dysfunctional.