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Promoting functional recovery after cervical spinal cord injury: targeting neuroplasticity
featuring Gary Sieck, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Monday, January 30
2:30-3:30 p.m.
Biodesign Auditorium, reception to follow

In the United States there are about 11,000 new cases of spinal cord injury (SCI) each year. Most SCI’s are incomplete with some sparing of spinal cord pathways. Among SCI patients, approximately 50 percent involve the cervical spinal cord, with many cases resulting in impairment of rhythmic phrenic nerve activity and paralysis of the diaphragm muscle. Some of these SCI patients must be maintained on long-term mechanical ventilation, with associated higher morbidity and mortality rates. Clearly, it is important to understand how rhythmic phrenic activity can be restored in these SCI patients.

Sieck will discuss his research using a novel targeted approach to promote recovery of rhythmic respiratory activity following a cervical SCI by enhancing full-length tropomyosin-related kinase receptor (TrkB.FL) expression and signaling in phrenic motoneurons, while avoiding undesirable adverse effects.

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Gary Sieck is the Vernon F. and Earline D. Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He is also professor of anesthesiology and director of the Biomedical Engineering program, as well as deputy director for research and vice dean for research at the Mayo Clinic.

Sieck’s research focuses on neural control of respiratory muscles. In particular, he is exploring the basis for plasticity and remodeling of neuromotor control of respiratory muscles in association with postnatal develoment, and pulmonary disease, spinal cord injury and mechanical ventilation.

Among his many honors, Sieck has received the Joseph R. Rodarte Award for Scientific Distinction from the American Thoracic Society, was recognized as a Mayo Distinguished Investigator and was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering (AIMBE).

Sieck has served on many editorial boards, including the Journal of Applied Physiology, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, as well as international advisory boards for Acta Physiologica Sinica (China), Anasthesiologie, Intensivmedizin, Notfallmedizin, Schmerztherapie (Germany) and Journal of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (Kazakstan).

Sieck holds a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the University of Nebraska, Omaha and a B.S. in zoology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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