Neural Injury & Repair Research

Neurons and glia are the building blocks of the nervous system. Injuries to neuronal and glial cells are devastating and often lead to lifelong disability. Nervous system injuries can be a consequence of accident or illness and therefore they are difficult to predict or prevent.

Injuries can be initiated by immune mechanisms inside the body, as is the case for multiple sclerosis, changes in blood flow to the brain, as occurs after a stroke, or through trauma or accidents, as is the case for concussion and spinal cord injuries. A fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of neural injury, developing approaches to speed recovery and rehabilitate those who have neural injuries is the focus of Neural Injury & Repair. 
Researchers in the Neural Injury & Repair theme are searching for new ways to treat damaged neurons. Using advanced technologies such as sophisticated imaging, robotics and biomedical techniques, our research teams are translating their findings into effective therapies to improve the lives of nerve-injured patients.

Apply to join a Brain & Mental Health Team, or to read more about the teams click here.

Neural Injury & Repair Teams

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research is a long-standing focus area at the University of Calgary, where basic and clinical researchers support a cyclical process of discovery and translation, contributing to new treatments for patients. The team is led by Drs. V. Wee Yong and Sarah Morrow and includes researchers who have published more than 90 peer-reviewed articles in the past year. A landmark success for this group was the discovery that minocycline, a common acne medication, can slow the progress of relapsing-remitting MS, a discovery the team carried from bench to the completion of a Phase III trial. These findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017. The team holds a Brain and Mental Health Strategic Research Fund grant, focusing on developing innovative animal models.

Spinal cord and nerve injuries are often a consequence of accident or illness and therefore difficult to predict or prevent. The Spinal Cord/Nerve Injury & Pain (SCNIP) team is focused on managing chronic pain, accelerating rehabilitation and translating discoveries into treatments. The team is led by Drs. Tuan Trang and Shalina Ousman. Recent team successes include: being the first in Canada to examine the effectiveness of the early introduction of exoskeletons in rehabilitation; and hosting an annual community engagement event that brings together basic researchers, clinicians, patients, caregivers and other stakeholders to dialogue about the future of nerve injury and pain research.

In Canada, at least 300,000 concussions occur each year.  Co-led by Dr. Keith Yeates and Dr. Carolyn Emery, the university's Integrated Concussion Research Program works with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in the Cumming School of Medicine, the Faculty of Kinesiology, and the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts to address concussion and other forms of mild traumatic brain injury. The team holds major grants from CIHR and other funding agencies for concussion research.