Phillip Popovich, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, has received a R35 Research Program Award (RPA) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to continue his study of spinal cord injury (SCI) as a systemic disease and to develop novel approaches and therapies to treat patients with SCI. The R35 Research Program Award is designed to encourage ambitious, creative science by providing stable funding to outstanding investigators' research programs, offering them the freedom to pursue longer-term, innovative research projects. The award will provide Popovich and his lab a maximum of $750,000 per year for up to eight years.

In addition to impairing mobility, SCI often causes secondary health conditions, including high blood pressure, incontinence, gut health issues, dysregulated metabolism leading to obesity and diabetes and an increased risk for developing life-threatening infections or sepsis. Many of the conditions develop because SCI disrupts the autonomic nervous system (ANS), leading to a breakdown of communication between the brain, spinal cord and the immune system. 

This award will enable Dr. Popovich to test the overall theory that the break in neuro-immune homeostasis after SCI creates a state of neurogenic "meta-inflammation" that affects the normal function of organ systems throughout the body. 

Understanding the consequences of ANS dysfunction, including the mechanisms that control meta-inflammation, could help Popovich's lab develop new therapies to improve health and survival in people affected by SCI. 

The award integrates currently funded NINDS R01 grants with new ideas, and builds on previous and ongoing Ohio State-led research in the area of spinal cord injury.

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