Kristin J Weaver, MD, PhD, University of Florida third year neurosurgery resident, was recently awarded the 2013-2014 the Research Fellowship sponsored by the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) for the study, “Optimizing neural repair following cervical spinal cord injury using a multi-modal cell transplant strategy.” She is sponsored by Daniel Hoh, MD and Michael Lane, PhD. This study will test whether maturing donor nerve cells can anatomically and functionally integrate with spinal circuits responsible for diaphragm activity. It will also employ a novel “optogenetic” approach to control the activity of transplanted cells and test whether the functionality can be enhanced between donor neurons and the injured host spinal cord. These experiments test a promising treatment approach in an important and clinically relevant injury model, and can significantly improve our understanding of the therapeutic potential of a range of neuronal transplantation approaches, including many of the stem cell therapies currently being tested experimentally and clinically.
Founded by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) in 1981, the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) is the premier foundation supporting neurosurgical research. It supports neurosurgical residents and young neurosurgical faculty in North America conducting basic science, patient-oriented clinical, and outcomes research. This NREF-supported research — on neurosurgical disorders ranging from brain tumors and epilepsy to spine disorders and Parkinson’s Disease — seeks to improve patient care and quality of life through advances in disorder diagnosis and treatment. For More about NREF Fellowship Program, visit www.aans.org
Dr. Weaver also won the Apfelbaum Award from the AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerve.