Moving Beyond Isolated Systems

a whole-body approach to understanding spinal cord injury and recovery and the science and current evidence for neuromodulation. 


Moving Beyond Isolated Systems, April 2020


April 6-8, 2020


221 South 4th St.

Louisville, KY  40202

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April 6-8, 2020

Louisville, KY

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The Speakers




Human Locomotion Scientist

Claudia Angeli, PhD

Assistant Professor

Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center

Senior Researcher, Human Locomotion Research Center at Frazier Rehab Institute

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Dr. Claudia Angeli is the Director of the Epidural Stimulation Program and Assistant Professor at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, University of Louisville and senior researcher at Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville. Her research background and interests are focused in understanding mechanisms of control of human locomotion following neurologic injury. She has over ten years of experience utilizing a combination of epidural stimulation and activity based training for the restoration of function following motor complete spinal cord injury. Her publications have generated a pivotal paradigm shift providing evidence for the potential of functional recovery following motor complete spinal cord injuries.  

Jocelyne Bloch, MD

Associate Professor

University of Lausanne

Associate Professor, Functional Neurosurgery Program of the CHUV
Lausanne, Switzerland

Jocelyne Bloch obtained her neurosurgical degree in 2002. She specialized in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery. She is in charge of the functional neurosurgical unit at the CHUV. Very active in experimental medicine and translational neuroscience, she nourishes a profound interest in the development of new indications for DBS, and in advancing technologies and therapeutic paradigms in neuromodulation, neuro-regeneration, and cell therapy.  

She performed both basic and translational research projects in the field of gene therapy and neuroregeneration. She acquired a substantial experience in experimental neurosurgery in multiple animal models of neurological disorders including stroke, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury. She recently conducted a pioneer clinical study together with Prof Grégoire Courtine, on spacio-temporal neuromodulation therapies to improve locomotion after spinal cord injury in humans. 


Neurosurgeon, Professor


Spinal Cord Injury Researcher

Ona Bloom, PhD

Associate Professor

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research; Dept. of Molecular Medicine, Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell 
East Garden City, NY

Ona Bloom, PhD, is a Professor at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research entity of Northwell Health, where she serves as the inaugural director the Laboratory of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research. She also serves as Director of Research in the Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell and is a member of the VA’s National Center for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center (Bronx, NY).


Dr. Bloom’s translational research program aims to investigate immune and other biological responses to SCI that influence survival, neurological recovery, and quality of life.  Over the past decade, she has leveraged clinical and scientific expertise across Northwell Health to launch prospective research studies in acute and chronic SCI. Her research program has received support from private foundation, state and federal funding agencies. 


Dr. Bloom is the incoming Director of the International Symposium for Neural Regeneration and is an elected member of the Program Committee of the Society for Neuroscience. She has served as a peer reviewer for the Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Research and Development Panels, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Foundation, NIH, NSF, and is a member of the SCIRTS study section of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.  

Maxwell Boayke, MD, MPH, MBA, FACS, FAANS

Ole A., Mabel Wise and Wilma Wise Nelson Endowed Research Chair


Chief Spinal Neurosurgery

Director, Outcomes Research

Clinical Director,

Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Center

Department of Neurosurgery

University of Louisville

Louisville, KY

Dr. Boakye is Professor and Chief of Spinal Neurosurgery, Director of spine neurosurgery fellowship and Clinical Director of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Center at the University of Louisville.


He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the University of Louisville (UOL) site for the National Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) and was PI of the UOL site for the North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN) from 2011-2019.


His clinical practice focuses on general neurosurgery, brain tumors, complex spinal neurosurgery, spine radiosurgery, spinal cord injury, and minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Boakye is the lead neurosurgeon for the epidural stimulation research program and Director of the large animal spinal cord injury lab. He is an editor of the textbook: Essentials of Spinal Cord Injury, Thieme Publishers, October 2012. 


Neurosurgeon, Professor


Physician Scientist

Christopher Cardozo, MD

Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY  

Dr. Cardozo is Professor of Medicine and of Rehabilitation Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of the Molecular Program of the Center for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury at James J Peters VA. He is a physician scientist with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering who practices pulmonary medicine. Since 2001, his research has sought to understand mechanisms of impaired muscle function after spinal cord injury (SCI) and to evaluate the potential of new drug candidates to improve muscle performance after SCI. More recently, he has contributed to projects evaluating mechanisms for and treatment of sublesional bone loss after SCI, and to cell culture and small animal studies of organ and tissue interactions through release of exosomes, myokines, adipokines and hepatokines, particularly as they relate to dysregulation of body composition and metabolism.  

Grégoire Courtine, PhD

Full Professor of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

EPFL | Ecole Polytechnique Lausanne

CHUV | Hopital Universitaire Lausanne


Grégoire Courtine was trained in Physics and Neurosciences. His passion for translational neurosciences has fueled his research in the development of neurotechnologies to improve recovery from neurological disorders. After obtaining the Chancellor Award during his post-doc at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), he established his own laboratory at the University of Zurich in 2008 before joining the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in 2012. He is now Full Professor of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology in the Center for Neuroprosthetics at EPFL and in the department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital Lausanne (CHUV). He is also Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of GTX medical, a start-up he founded in 2014 to translate the neurotechnologies developed in his laboratory into clinical treatments. 


Professor, Neuroscience Translator


Kinesiologist, Professor

David Ditor, PhD


Kinesiology Brock University

Adjunct professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University

Adjunct professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Science at York University

David Ditor is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Brock University, and his research program focuses on the secondary health complications that accompany spinal cord injury. More specifically, Dr. Ditor’s research interests involve i) chronic inflammation after SCI and the associated range of negative effects, ii) cardiovascular disease and dysfunction  after SCI, and iii) sexual dysfunction after SCI. As some of these health complications are modifiable, Dr. Ditor is also interested in the role of exercise and diet in managing and reversing them. In addition to his teaching and research responsibilities at Brock University, Dr. Ditor is also the Founder and Director of POWER CORD; an accessible facility that provides specialized and supervised exercise for individuals with SCI, MS and lower limb amputations. POWER CORD is both a community-based exercise centre and a research facility, and it offers unique experiential learning opportunities to the Brock University students who implement the exercise programs. 

Reggie Edgerton, PhD

Professor, UCLA, Dept. of Physiological Science 

Professor, UCLA, Department of Neurobiology

Professor, UCLA, Department of Neurosurgery 


Neurosurgeon, Professor

Professor Edgerton received his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from Michigan State University and is the Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and a Distinguished Professor of the Departments of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Neurobiology, and Neurosurgery and a member of the Brain Research Institute at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He has been teaching and conducting research at UCLA for 50 years. His research is focused on how the neural networks in the spinal cord of mammals, including humans, regain control of standing, stepping and voluntary control of fine movements after paralysis, and how these motor functions can be modified by chronically imposing activity-dependent interventions after spinal cord injury.


Physiologist, Professor

Karen Esser, M.Ed., PhD

University of Kentucky Research Professor

Preeminence Professor – Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, University of Florida 

Associate Director for Basic Muscle Biology; Institute of Myology, University of Florida 

Karyn Esser is Professor in the Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics and Associate Director within the Institute of Myology at the University of Florida. Her lab has been working in the area of skeletal muscle adaptation for over 25 years. During the first part of her career, her lab studied the molecular mechanisms that underly adult skeletal muscle adaptation to both endurance training (e.g. fiber type) and resistance training (e.g. hypertrophy).  

Following outcomes from an early generation microarray study in 2002, Dr. Esser’s research direction has transitioned to focus on circadian rhythms, the molecular clock and skeletal muscle. Her lab has pioneered research on the role of circadian rhythms in skeletal muscle health. Use of genetic mouse models of circadian disruption were used to demonstrate that skeletal muscle exhibits profound weakness, and disrupted mitochondria. Her lab’s recent work has found that targeted disruption of the molecular clock only in adult skeletal muscle is sufficient to induce muscle weakness and insulin resistance. In addition, they found that there were systemic changes that including the heart, brain and bone. The lab is currently pursuing the role of the circadian clock in muscle weakness, how exercise can work with the circadian systems and the links between skeletal muscle and other organ systems.

Gail Forrest, PhD

Kessler site Director of the NeuroRecovery Network. 

Associate Director Center for Mobility Rehabilitation Engineering Research.

Director Center for Spinal Stimulation.

Bio goes here


Neurosurgeon, Professor


Physician, Professor

David Gater, MD, PhD, MS

Professor and Chair

Spinal Cord Injury Fellowship Director

Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 

Medical Director of Rehabilitation, Jackson Memorial Hospital

Co-Director, NIDILRR South Florida Spinal Cord Injury Model System

University of Miami | Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine

Dr. Gater is Professor and Chair of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as well as the Spinal Cord Injury Fellowship Program Director and the Medical Director of Rehabilitation at Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.  He obtained a B.S. in General Biology (1982), M.S. in Exercise and Sports Sciences (1985), Ph.D. in Physiology (1990), and M.D. (1992) from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.  Dr. Gater completed an Internal Medicine internship at the U of Arizona and Affiliated Hospitals (1993), and PM&R residency training (1996) at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, California.  Dr. Gater has board-certifications in PM&R, Electrodiagnostic Medicine and the subspecialty of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.  Dr. Gater has completed Research Career Development Awards with both VHA and NIH, and has mentored many undergraduate, graduate and medical students, resident physicians, fellows and junior faculty. He has received several teaching, research and clinical awards, and is a passionate lecturer.  He is currently President of the American Paraplegia Society, President-Elect of the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals and has published more than 100 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.  His research emphasizes the effects of diet and exercise training on energy metabolism, glucose and lipid metabolism, obesity/body composition, cardiovascular fitness, neuroplasticity and functional outcomes in Spinal Cord Injury, and he has been funded by NIH, NIDRR, AHA, PVA SCRF, CH Neilsen Foundation and the VHA.

Yury Gerasimenko, PhD

Professor, Head Laboratory of Movement Physiology
Researcher of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences


Movement Physiologist, Professor

Insert bio


Research Physical Therapist

Megan Gill, PT, D.P.T.

Research Physical Therapist

Assistive and Restorative Technology Laboratory, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic 

Megan is a clinician-researcher at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota in the field of physical therapy for individuals with spinal cord injuries.  She has worked with the SCI population for 15 years and currently works on research activities geared to recovery of motor activation and locomotion, specifically epidural stimulation and exoskeleton gait training.  

David Goldstein, MD, PhD

Directs the UCNS-accredited Clinical Fellowship in Autonomic Disorders at the NIH Clinical Center.

Clinical Neurocardiology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health,

Bethesda, Maryland

Insert Bio


Physician, Research Director


Technology Engineer, Assistant Professor

Peter Grahn, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurologic Surgery

Senior Engineer, Assistive and Restorative Technology Laboratory

Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN

My professional goals are to investigate emerging therapies that hold potential to improve quality of life for individuals suffering from paralysis due to spinal cord injury (SCI). In 2005, I suffered a swimming accident that resulted in a cervical SCI and permanent quadriplegia. Following my injury, I was offered very limited treatment options. Combining these limitations for treating SCI with my curiosity to answer unknown scientific questions steered me toward a career in biomedical research. Following my undergraduate education, I was accepted into the Mayo Clinic Office for Diversity’s post-baccalaureate research experience program (PREP), and was provided an opportunity to work in the regenerative medicine laboratory of Anthony Windebank, M.D. While in Dr. Windebank’s laboratory, I worked on multiple projects using various rodent models of peripheral and central nervous system trauma in order to evaluate the efficacy bioengineered scaffolds seeded with regenerative cells and growth factors implanted into the site of injury to facilitate neural tissue regeneration. 

Following acceptance into Mayo Graduate School, I began my dissertation project within Dr. Kendall Lee’s Neural Engineering Laboratory. During my PhD studies, I worked with a team consisting of fellows, visiting scientists, neurosurgeons, and engineers to establish a new project within the lab that utilized intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS) for recovery of motor function following SCI. Our initial efforts focused on demonstrating that ISMS could be controlled wirelessly in a rodent model of complete SCI to successfully elicit hind limb motor functions. I also contributed to the establishment of a large animal model for use as a translational model to develop novel ISMS technologies that may be clinically applicable. Employing this translational model, we developed an MRI-guided, stereotactic delivery system for precise implantation of electrodes into spinal cord regions targeted via MRI. 

Toward the end of my PhD training I facilitated a collaborative project between Mayo Clinic’s Department of Neurologic Surgery, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Dr. Reggie Edgerton’s laboratory at UCLA that is ongoing. Through this collaboration we acquired Mayo IRB approval along with a FDA investigational device exemption to enroll subjects with motor complete lower limb paralysis in a clinical trial investigating the use of epidural electrical stimulation of the lumbosacral spinal cord to enable volitional control of lower limb motor functions. Currently, we have completed our first clinical trial, begun a subsequent clinical trial, and are pursuing funding to expand our spinal stimulation studies. 

My career goals are to lead a translational academic research laboratory that is focused on pre-clinical animal models of SCI to elucidate mechanisms underlying spinal neuromodulation-enabled volitional control of paralyzed functions and translates these findings from pre-clinical animal investigations to clinical application to improve quality of life for individuals suffering from SCI. 



April 6-8, 2020

Day 1

SCI as a Whole Body System Biology and the Hope of Neuromodulation


Steve Kirshblum, MD

Reducing Metabolic Disease After SCI Part 1: Leveraging What We Know About Lifestyle, Gut Dysbiosis, and Diet

Ceren Yarar-Fisher, PhD

David Gator, MD, PhD, MS

Philip Popovich, PhD

Reducing Metabolic Disease After SCI Part 2: The Effect of Activity and Exercise

Mark Nash, PhD, FACSM

J. Andrew Taylor, PhD

Muscle as an Endocrine Organ

Christopher Cardozo, MD

David Ditor, PhD

Karen Esser, M.Ed., PhD

Day 1

The Autonomic Nervous System: A Remarkable Regulator — Disrupted by SCI, Recovered by Neuromodulation

David Goldstein, MD, PhD

AndreiKrassioukov, MD, 


Poster Sessions will be held during break, and a cocktail poster session will be held at the end of Day 1

Posters selected based on applications

Optional Group Dinner w Speaker: History of Neuromodulation and the Benefits of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives (requires purchase of an additional dinner ticket)

Elliot Krames, MD

Day 2

Opening Keynote: Epidural and Transcutaneous Spinal Cord Stimulation Strategies for Motor Recovery:  Background, Emerging Techniques, and Concepts That Have Shaped a New Era of Neurorehabilitation in Spinal Cord Injury

Karen Minassian, PhD

Day 3

Opening Keynote: Neuromodulation from a Neurosurgeon’s Perspective

Maxwell Boayke MD, MPH, MBA, FACS, FAANS 

Jocelyne Bloch, MD


The Venue: Kentucky International Convention Center

221 S 4th St.

Louisville, KY 40202

15 minutes from Louisville International Airport, and located at the center of downtown Louisville, the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) is close to more than 6,000 hotel rooms and dozens of fine dining and casual restaurants. It is within walking distance of museums, distilleries, gift shops, and other attractions. KICC is truly at the center of it all!







Expand your knowledge SCI treatment and recovery


There are many conveniently located hotels in the area. We have blocked a limited number of rooms at The Hyatt Regency Louisville at $155 per night, and at the Louisville Marriott Downtown at $172 per night. Accessible rooms can be reserved.