Neural Injury, Trauma & Stroke

neurons in stroke

Injury to the central nervous system — which consists of the brain and spinal cord — often results in far-reaching physical, emotional and economic consequences. Each year in the U.S., approximately 2.8 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury, 800,000 have a stroke and 17,000 endure a spinal cord injury. Researchers at UF strive to understand the secondary pathological biochemical events associated with stroke and CNS injury in order to make much needed advances in therapeutic approaches.


Stroke and traumatic injury are devastating, life-altering events that can result in long-term disability. From basic science to clinical care, UF researchers are dedicated to understanding the underlying mechanisms that contribute to poor functional outcomes after such events. In addition, researchers are focused on biochemically-based diagnostics of acute brain injury and on developing novel therapeutic approaches to enhance recovery from injury. Critical to these research programs are strong ties between both basic and clinical researchers. UF has a particularly strong and unique community of researchers who are focused on understanding the physiological challenges of maintaining respiratory motor control in both health and disease.

Research highlights include:

  • Neurotherapeutics targeting stroke
  • Investigations of secondary biochemical cascades contributing to damage after stroke and traumatic brain injury
  • Biomarkers of traumatic brain injury
  • Physiological challenges of maintaining respiratory motor control in disease and following injury
  • Effects of age and gender on stroke outcomes

Affiliated UF Centers

Hypoxia patient

Breathing Research and Therapeutics Center (BREATHE)

Led by director Dr. Gordon Mitchell, BREATHE aims to facilitate world class research, both basic and clinical, focused on understanding the physiological challenges of maintaining respiratory motor control in both health and disease. This research can impact a range of disorders, including (but not limited to) spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, stroke, muscular dystrophy, chronic cough and TBI. With ventilatory failure being the major cause of death in most traumatic, ischemic and neurodegenerative neuromuscular disorders, BREATHE is poised to make a lasting impact on restoring health in these disease populations.

Specialized Training Programs

T32 Breathing Research and Therapeutics (BREATHE) Training Program

Led by Dr. Gordon S. Mitchell, the goal of the BREATHE Training Program is to develop a unique cohort of researchers with strong foundations in basic research on respiratory neuromuscular biology, and a strong appreciation for the needs/realities of translational research in our attempts to develop treatments for impaired breathing and airway defense. Current research focuses on fundamental mechanisms of spinal respiratory motor plasticity induced by intermittent hypoxia, and attempts to harness that plasticity to treat clinical disorders that compromise breathing and non-respiratory limb movements, such as spinal injury and ALS.


T32 Neuromuscular Plasticity Training Program (NMPT)

Led by Dr. Dave Fuller, the interdisciplinary Training Program in Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Plasticity, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research was initiated in 2003 to help build a critical mass of well-trained scientists prepared to conduct innovative rehabilitation research.This pre-doctoral training program is unique in that it emphasizes the interaction and joint training of rehabilitation clinicians and basic scientists with a common interest in translational research in neuromuscular plasticity.

scientists in lab


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