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Ramer, Leanne - Write Up

2008 Round 1 International Award

I am working toward my PhD in Zoology at the University of British Columbia, and I am a trainee at ICORD (the International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries).

My doctoral research focuses on cardiovascular dysfunction following spinal cord injury (SCI), and how control of blood pressure and heart rate changes after SCI. These changes can be profound, and can significantly impair quality of life. For example, many people with SCI do not have normal control over their blood pressure: it can rise quickly to dangerous levels, with a risk of stroke and even death. This condition is called autonomic dysreflexia (AD).

In one of our current research projects, we are using a technique called spectral analysis to examine cardiovascular function in rats with SCI. This technique provides information about the neural control of cardiovascular function by measuring the variability in heart rate and blood pressure over time. Working with Dr. Victoria Claydon at Simon Fraser University, we have demonstrated that spectral analysis can be used to document cardiovascular dysfunction in rats with SCI, and can be used as a tool in SCI research.

I was fortunate to receive travel support from the DHRN to present our findings on spectral analysis at the annual meeting of the American Paraplegia Society (APS), held in Florida in August of this year. Our abstract was accepted for podium presentation, in a session dedicated to altered cardiovascular control following SCI. The session was well-attended by physicians and researchers in the field of SCI, and we received some great feedback on our research.

Since all conference delegates stay on-site, this meeting provides ample opportunities for interactions between clinicians and researchers. Some of these interactions prove invaluable: this year, we established a new collaborative project. I will be traveling to the United States in the new year to get started on some of these experiments, investigating the effects of cycling exercise on cardiovascular dysfunction in rats with SCI.


International Award Winners:  Simonette, G., Yiu, J., Zwicker, J., Chen, S.,  Faradaji, F., Gaudet, A., Hewapathirane, S., Inskip, J., Mikhail, D., Mills, P.,
National Award Winners: Beirnes, K., Bundon, A., Hume, A., Lige, S., Schiarti, V.