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Injury Biomechanics

The advent of sophisticated biochemistry and molecular biology has enabled researchers to probe the cellular and molecular events contributing to the pathogenesis of CNS injury. As molecular analyses becomes more technologically sophisticated (and often less invasive), we can understand more about the cellular and molecular response to brain injury in order to characterize the temporal aspect of the injury "cascade" that ultimately contribute to the physiological, behavioral, neurologic, and histologic damage associated with traumatic injury to the brain.

The goal of Pennís Central Nervous System Injury Laboratory is to use knowledge to develop new, more effective therapies to treat brain-injury patients. The labís focus is on the cellular and molecular sequelae of central nervous system injury. Specific topics of research include: the role of cell death genes and cytoskeletal damage following brain injury; the relationship between brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimerís disease; immune mediator of neuronal damage after CNS injury; pathogenesis of cognitive dysfunction following CNS injury; role of glia in neural injury; neural transplantation and degeneration; evaluation of neuroprotective treatment, including gene therapy.

The Biomechanical Injury Laboratory strives to understand the influence of mechanical factors on the function and structure of human tissues from the macroscopic to microscopic level, with an emphasis on the spinal cord, head, and lungs. The research conducted under the direction of Dr. Susan Margulies is unified under the umbrella of intergrated biomechanics, and utilizes innovative experimental, analytical, and numerical simulation techniques. Work in the laboratory has yielded fundamental information about the mechanical properties of the brain and skull, in vivo deformations of the spinal cord and the lung, and the cellular response to deformations which accompany lung inflation.

TraumaLink, The Interdisciplinary Pediatric Injury Control Research Center, is a collaborative effort funded by the Foerderer Fund for Excellence, led by Flaura K. Winston, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Penn, and primary care pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The Centerís mission: Create an interdisciplinary scientific foundation for the development of interventions to prevent and treat pediatric injury by facilitating, conducting, and disseminating proactive and timely research. TraumaLink was initiated at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Children's Seashore House of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia among researchers from neurosurgery; trauma surgery; rehabilitation; child, adolescent, and emergency medicine; epidemiology; engineering; pharmacology; nursing; public health; and business. Through monthly meetings, members of TraumaLink have discovered that gaps in control research can be filled through interdisciplinary collaboration and attempt to bridge these gaps by evaluating on-going and proposed pediatric trauma research from a wide perspective. The meetings promote novel interpretations of research result and foster new collaborative efforts.

Current research projects at TraumaLink are:

  • Partners for Child Passenger Safety
  • Post-Traumatic Stress in Children Injured in Traffic Crashes
  • Injury Circumstance Evaluation Study
  • Premature Graduation of Children from Child Restraints to Vehicle Safety Belts
  • Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Philadelphia

For more information on the Central Nervous Systems Injury Laboratory, please visit http://bioeng.seas.upenn.edu/tbilab/

For more information on the Biomechanical Injury Laboratory, please visit http://www.seas.upenn.edu/be/labs/injury/

For more information about TraumaLink, visit http://www.chop.edu/research/traumalink/

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Biological Engineering Network at the University of Pennsylvania
1010 Vagelos Research Labs / 3340 Smith Walk / Philadelphia PA 19104-6383
tel. 215-573-6813 ~ fax. 215-573-6815 ~ e-mail: ben-penn@pobox.upenn.edu