January 2012:  PhD Student Matt Farrar’s Window to the Future of Trauma Therapy

After head or spinal trauma, a doctor’s stabilize first and treat later.  Research performed by physics doctoral student Matt Farrar may offer insights into how nerve cells react to trauma and allow doctors to offer treatment sooner.

Farrar and associate professor of biomedical engineering Chris Schaffer have combined current technology used to study the brain with multiphoton microscopy, an imaging technique invented by Cornell professor of applied and engineering physics Watt Webb.  The spinal cord procedure entails surgically implanting a window, or chamber with a transparent panel over a live mouse’s exposed cord. Transgenic mice with fluorescent proteins and other cells are then visualized in 3-D using multiphoton microscopy (invented by Cornell biophysicist Watt W. Webb).

The window to the spinal cord allows researchers to constantly monitor the growth or death of axons without repeated surgeries.  “Our method provides a platform for rapid evaluation of the efficacy of different therapeutic strategies,” said Matthew Farrar, a graduate student in Schaffer’s lab and the study’s lead author.  The study was published in the January 22 online issue of Nature Methods.

To read the article in the Cornell Chronicle, click here.

To read the article in Nature Methods, click here.

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