Linda Noble-Haeusslein, Ph.D., P.T.

Professor, Departments of Neurology and Psychology, Dell Medical School 

The University of Texas at Austin

Research Summary

If the central nervous system could repair itself, a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury would be no more dangerous than a bruise. Working towards this lofty goal, Dr. Linda Noble-Haeusslein investigates cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie loss of function in preclinical models of pediatric traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, and spinal cord injuries.  “My primary goal is to develop a pipeline of robust candidate therapeutics that reduce cell death, inflammation, and tissue scarring and enhance long-term recovery.  Our hope is that success at this preclinical stage will lead to new therapeutics for brain-injured children and for those who have sustained spinal cord injuries.” 

Dr. Noble-Haeusslein’s efforts also extend towards regenerative medicine, focusing on bladder dysfunction that often accompanies spinal cord injury.  Her recent studies show that transplantation of stem cells into the injured cord, replace those lost to injury, and support bladder recovery. “We are excited about these findings, as they suggest that these cells are able to integrate into the spinal cord, providing appropriate signals that direct bladder function”. 

There has yet to be a therapeutic that has substantially reduced the devastating consequences of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.  “Given the complexities of these injuries, it is likely that combinatorial strategies will be needed to optimize recovery, through reducing early cell death and neuroinflammation, impeding scarring, and providing cell replacements.  Our lab, together with collaborators, are optimally positioned to tackle these complex strategies”.

See Figure below (legend):  Recovery after spinal cord injury is impeded by a prominent scar (labeled “1,2”) and inflammation (labeled “core”) that collectively inhibit regenerative processes in tissue that survived the initial insult (labeled GM, WM).

Expertise

Dr. Noble-Haeusslein, formerly at the University of California at San Francisco, joined the Departments of Psychology and Neurology as a Full Professor in January 2017, pioneering a connection between UT’s College of Liberal Arts and Dell Medical School. Her lab has expertise in rodent models of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, molecular and cellular biology, neuroinflammation, and neurobehavior, spanning assays of cognition and sociality to motor and sensory function.

In the coming year, she will be teaching the Psychology graduate course, “Behavioral Neuroscience: Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries:  From bench to bedside,” which will address the epidemiology and clinical presentations from acute to chronic injuries; the preclinical arena, beginning with clinically relevant animal models of brain and spinal cord injuries and, will cover cutting edge research aimed at defining cellular and molecular events that contribute to loss of function as well strategies targeting both early neuroprotection and restoration of function including topics such as regenerative rehabilitation, an emerging field that combines regenerative medicine with task-specific rehabilitation.

Collaborative Research 

Dr. Noble-Haeusslein is interested in collaborations that would align her neurotrauma program to the clinical setting; including refinement of preclinical models using engineered devices to optimally recapitulate the forces which define the thresholds of injury, serum biomarkers of injury/recovery and structural/functional imaging. 

For more information, visit her webpage

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