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Department of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Blackmore received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, and his graduate degree in neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. During his postdoctoral training at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Dr. Blackmore studied axon regeneration and adopted High Content Screening methods to identify new gene targets to promote neural repair. Later, as a Research Assistant Professor at the Miami Project, Dr. Blackmore used a gene therapy approach to test these new gene targets for the ability to promote axon regeneration in the injured spinal cord. Dr. Blackmore is continuing this line of research at Marquette University, using viral delivery of genes to injured neurons in rodent models of spinal injury in order to foster repair.

Dr. Blackmore uses a gene therapy approach in animal models to promote recovery from spinal cord injury 

Spinal cord injuries cause paralysis and loss of sensation that are devastating and incurable. A central challenge after spinal injury is that axons, the long cellular projections that the brain uses to communicate with the body, are unable to regenerate after damage. Importantly, however, there exists a narrow window of time during embryonic development in which the immature nerve cells possess the ability to robustly regenerate axons. Restoring this growth ability in adult nerve cells would be a major advance in the treatment of spinal injuries. 


The genetic pathways that power axon growth in immature neurons, and the best way to reactivate them in adult neurons after injury, remain mysterious. We therefore use bioinformatic approaches to discover growth-relevant genes in embryonic neurons, and then test whether delivering these genes to adult neurons improves their ability to grow axons after injury.    


Team members:

  • Research Assistant Professor: Zimei Wang

  • Graduate Students: Carli Batsel, Shalana Atwell 

  • Technicians: Logan Friedrich and Matthew Brannigan

  • Undergraduates: Zachary Beine, Nicholas Samberg, Neil Chhikara 


A tool for 3D visualization of neurons that project from brain to spinal cord in naïve and injured mice: 

Tests of gene therapy vectors in mouse models of spinal cord injury:


High content screening tests of candidate genes for axon growth:


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