When University of Alberta spinal cord researcher Karim Fouad began his career, not a lot was known about injuries of the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord.
“What researchers did know is that nerve cells don’t regrow,” said Fouad, who was named as a tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury as part of a $11.9-million federal government funding announcement Dec. 2. “I wanted to know why not.”
Unravelling the mechanism that caused these cells to simply die off once injured would open all sorts of avenues to treatment. Fouad said it was a bit dispiriting when the factor behind the stifling of nerve cell regrowth turned out to be more than one. In fact, there were many.
“It was as if these factors seemed to be put there on purpose to not let the system grow as it once did,” he said. “People really got