For my entire career I have focused on one aspect of spinal cord injury, namely that significant functional recovery can be induced in respiratory muscles paralyzed by spinal cord injury (SCI). Although my training is in regeneration, I realized very early as a postdoctoral fellow that motor recovery after mammalian spinal cord injury can be induced, not by regeneration of the injured bulbospinal axonal pathways that mediate breathing, but by activating alternative latent respiratory motor pathways in the uninjured regions of the spinal cord. I have shown that the latent pathways have the appropriate synaptic connections to bring about meaningful recovery of the diaphragm. My first manuscript on this topic was published in 1977 (Exp. Neurol. (Nov.), 57(2): 613-622) when I was a postdoctoral fellow at NIH. Initially my work involved morphological alterations at both the light microscopic and electron microscopic levels which were correlated with the physiological expression of recovery. Subsequently, I focused on the underlying pharmacological mechanisms for inducing recovery and innovative strategies for selectively targeting the respiratory centers in the spinal cord and medulla with recovery-inducing drugs at only a fraction of the dose that is required for recovery after systemic injection. I have trained several PhD students who have continued in the field of respiratory plasticity/ recovery after SCI. Most of my work is summarized in two reviews:
1. Goshgarian, H.G. 2003. The Crossed Phrenic Phenomenon: A Model of Plasticity in the Respiratory Pathways Following Spinal Cord Injury. J. Appl. Physiol. 94:795-810.
2.. Goshgarian, H.G. 2009. The crossed phrenic phenomenon and recovery of function following spinal cord injury. Resp Physiol Neurobiol Nov 30; 169(2):85-93. Epub 2009 Jun 17. Review.
Research Educator, Full time, PhD, Neuroscience