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Neuroscientist awarded for spinal cord injury research

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A spinal cord injury scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston was recognized for outstanding contributions to the advancement of spinal cord injury repair.

At the recent American Spinal Injury Association annual conference in Boston, Dr. Stephen Davies, assistant professor of neurosurgery at BCM, was presented with the Erica Nader Award, given every year in recognition of breakthrough research by an investigator in the field of spinal cord injury research.

“The competitive nature of modern medical research is such that new ideas are often met with a great deal of opposition, so it is particularly uplifting and gratifying to receive such a prestigious award from my scientific peers,” said Davies. “It is my hope that our work on spinal cord injury will pave the way for future applications of this technology in promoting tissue repair in not only the nervous system but throughout the human body.”

The prize was awarded for Davies’ 2004 published findings on a molecule called decorin, which was shown to suppress scar formation and promote nerve fiber Regeneration when infused into spinal cord injuries in rats.

Supported in part by medical technology provider Integra LifeSciences, Davies’ research has shown that decorin can not only suppress new scar formation but can also promote the injured spinal cord to make an enzyme called plasmin that can potentially break down the barrier to spinal cord regeneration presented by scar tissue in a chronically injured spinal cord. The molecule’s ability to promote Axon regeneration and Functional recovery in rats with chronically injured spinal cords is currently under investigation.

Ross Tomlin

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