Knowledge in Motion WebCast: Increasing Signal to Noise Ratio in the Spinal Cord

7/27/2020 12:00:00 AM

Getting More Out of Less:
Increasing the Signal to Noise Ratio in the Spinal Cord
 
Dr. Amanda Zimmerman, PhD
Senior Scientist
Axonis Therapeutics
 
Spinal cord neurons come in two basic forms: excitatory neurons, which promote electrical signals, and inhibitory neurons, which help halt transmission of these electrical signals. In an intact spinal cord, there is a balance between excitatory and inhibitory signals that allow for refined movement. Spinal cord injury (SCI) dramatically impairs voluntary movement and sensation below the level of injury. Yet most individuals with complete SCI have some intact circuits below the level of injury, possibly capable of generating automatic movement patterns such as walking. During this seminar, Dr. Zimmerman will discuss how the inhibitory/excitatory balance in the spinal cord is critical to both movement and sensation, and how it is disrupted after SCI. She will then discuss exciting new preclinical research that shows how nuanced regulation of inhibition (through targeting the central neuron-specific ion pump KCC2) can lead to substantial functional improvements after SCI, and the path necessary to translate these findings into the clinic.
 
Amanda Zimmerman, PhD, is a Senior Scientist at Axonis Therapeutics, an SCI-focused startup in the Boston area. Dr. Zimmerman received her bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from Duke University, and her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a graduate student at Emory University, she worked on research of spinal cord circuits that control nerves that regulate the body’s involuntary actions. In her postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Zimmerman examined ways that a human body sorts out the signals coming from the environment and within themselves to allow them to feel and touch. Before joining Axonis Therapeutics, she worked at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, focusing on identifying promising SCI research.
 
At the end of this presentation, learners will be able to:
 
• Explain why the balance between excitatory and inhibitory signals is important in the spinal cord
• Identify what role impaired inhibition plays in pain, spasticity, and movement after injury
• Understand why researchers think targeting an ion pump can lead to functional improvements.
 
 
To register for the free webcast:
https://bit.ly/3fnXIGt or contact Jenny at jmin5@partners.org | 617-952-6173
 
 
Spaulding New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center (SNERSCIC)
300 1st Avenue | Charlestown, MA 02129
Program of SNERSCIC Model System Partner Sites – Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital & Gaylord Specialty Healthcare



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