Leveraging biomedical informatics for assessing plasticity and repair in primate spinal cord injury

Jessica L. Nielson, Jenny Haefeli, Ernesto A. Salegio, Aiwen W. Liu, Cristian F. Guandique, Ellen D. Stück, Stephanie Hawbecker, Rod Moseanko, Sarah C. Strand, Sharon Zdunowski, John H. Brock, Roland R. Roy, Ephron S. Rosenzweig, Yvette S. Nout-Lomas, Gregoire Courtine, Leif A. Havton, Oswald Steward, V. Reggie Edgerton, Mark H. Tuszynski, Michael S. BeattieJacqueline C. Bresnahan, Adam R. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Recent preclinical advances highlight the therapeutic potential of treatments aimed at boosting regeneration and plasticity of spinal circuitry damaged by spinal cord injury (SCI). With several promising candidates being considered for translation into clinical trials, the SCI community has called for a non-human primate model as a crucial validation step to test efficacy and validity of these therapies prior to human testing. The present paper reviews the previous and ongoing efforts of the California Spinal Cord Consortium (CSCC), a multidisciplinary team of experts from 5 University of California medical and research centers, to develop this crucial translational SCI model. We focus on the growing volumes of high resolution data collected by the CSCC, and our efforts to develop a biomedical informatics framework aimed at leveraging multidimensional data to monitor plasticity and repair targeting recovery of hand and arm function. Although the main focus of many researchers is the restoration of voluntary motor control, we also describe our ongoing efforts to add assessments of sensory function, including pain, vital signs during surgery, and recovery of bladder and bowel function. By pooling our multidimensional data resources and building a unified database infrastructure for this clinically relevant translational model of SCI, we are now in a unique position to test promising therapeutic strategies efficacy on the entire syndrome of SCI. We review analyses highlighting the intersection between motor, sensory, autonomic and pathological contributions to the overall restoration of function. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-138
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Vladimir Muraru for technical programming support during this project. Funding support was provided by the US National Institutes of Health ( NS42291 , NS049881 , NS053059 , NS067092 , NS069537 , and NS079030 ); Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, Veterans Administration ; California Roman Reed Fund; Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust ; Dr Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation ; and NYS CoRE CO19772 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Autonomic function
  • Big-data
  • Bioinformatics
  • Motor function
  • Non-human primate
  • Plasticity
  • Recovery
  • Sensory function
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Statistics
  • Syndromics
  • Translation


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