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Dr. Hentall

Research Interests









Research Update Video



Contact Information:


The Miami Project
to Cure Paralysis


1095 NW 14th Terrace


Locator Code R-48


Miami, Florida 33136



Tel:  (305) 243-8184
Fax: (305) 243-3924


Home Our Research Faculty > Ian Hentall, Ph.D.



Research Associate Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery



Brainstem Influences on Neurotrauma

Research Interests


Our main research is on electrical brain stimulation to improve general recovery from spinal cord injury (SCI) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). For this, we design and fabricate small, wireless stimulator implants for use in rodents, which also have potential human use. Stimulating for about one week in a certain hindbrain region, starting within two days after a thoracic contusional SCI, greatly improves recovery in rats. This region (called the raphe magnus) releases serotonin throughout the spinal cord. We are currently studying the cellular mechanism of this beneficial effect. A midbrain region connected to the raphe magnus has a similar effect on recovery and has been safely stimulated in people to treat drug-resistant severe pain. It therefore offers a target for treating early SCI. In parallel, we have found that serotonin-releasing midbrain regions improve cognitive and motor recovery from TBI. Our results with TBI and SCI have led us to devise a theory on centrally controlled repair of neurotrauma by serotonin.

Our other projects in neurophysiology include minimally invasive brain mapping by stimulation and recording through one electrode, a novel method with various advantages in experimental and clinical neuroscience. We collaborate with several other Miami Project laboratories. With Dr. Brian Noga, we measure spinal cord levels of serotonin, again using novel instrumentation developed in-house. With Dr. Jacqueline Sagen, we look at spinal cord changes produced by cell transplants that reverse pain. A third collaboration is with Dr. Walter Hargraves of the University of Illinois, on how dietary restriction affects spinal cord pathology. We previously found that calorie restriction reduces chronic pain and arthritis in mice, and are examining how it affects spinal cord repair.






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