March 26, 2007
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
UMDNJ Researcher Receives $331K Grant for Spinal Cord Research
NEW BRUNSWICK — Is it possible that a microscopic organism could one day yield the answer that will allow thousands of paralyzed humans to walk again?
That’s the question that Dr. William Wadsworth, a professor of Pathology at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, will be seeking to answer with the help of a $331 thousand grant from the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research (NJCSCR). Dr. Wadsworth, whose research will examine the molecular mechanisms that guide nerve cells to reconnect following an injury, was one of six scientists to receive NJCSCR funding.
“Several of the molecules that are involved in the guidance process were first discovered in the C. elegans nematode,” Dr. Wadsworth said. “Although this organism is relatively simple, it has muscles and nerves just as we do. The same molecules that function to ensure proper nervous system connections in nematodes also guide the building of more complex circuits in the human nervous system.”
Dr. Wadsworth’s research will focus on the biochemical molecules that are present at the sites of spinal cord injuries. These chemicals appear to have a profound influence on the regeneration of axons, which are the primary transmission lines that bundle together to form nerves. Understanding how these biochemical molecules control the reconnection of axons could lead to better treatments to regenerate normal neural connections following a spinal cord injury.
The New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research was created in 2000 with the mission to stimulate original spinal cord research in New Jersey and recruit new scientist to the field through the funding of research projects and fellowships at qualifying institutions throughout the state.
To request an interview with Dr. Wadsworth, please contact Jerry Carey, University News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.