The research interests of Isobel A. Scarisbrick, Ph.D, include discovery of new targets for repair of the injured and diseased central nervous system (CNS) with a special emphasis on developing new methods to treat traumatic injury to the spinal cord and neuroinflammatory conditions affecting myelin, such as multiple sclerosis. A major focus of Dr. Scarisbrick's research is developing approaches to enhance the innate capacity of the central nervous system to regenerate through pharmacologic, metabolic and exercise-related interventions.
Within the Rehabilitation Medicine Research Center, Dr. Scarisbrick leads the neurological rehabilitation program, which focuses on neural repair and regeneration.
In her research laboratory, Dr. Scarisbrick leads a team looking at new targets for nervous system regeneration and rehabilitation, including a newly discovered family of serine proteases and the receptors these activate — the protease activated receptors. Dr. Scarisbrick's team has identified these as targets for therapies to promote neural regeneration, including stem cell expansion and myelin repair.
Specific areas of research include:
- Spinal cord injury pathogenic mechanisms and novel reparative interventions
- Mechanisms of CNS demyelination, neuroprotection and myelin repair, with a focus on restoration of function in multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury
- Neural regeneration through application of neural stem cells
- Physiologic mechanisms governing myelin regeneration
- Mechanisms of astrogliosis in the context of neural injury and repair
- Neurorehabilitation approaches to foster neural regeneration
- Signaling mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration and neuroregeneration
Dr. Scarisbrick's research has been funded by federal, private and nonprofit research awards, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Dr. Scarisbrick is a globally recognized scientist credited with a number of important scientific breakthroughs related to mechanisms of neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, astrogliosis and myelin homeostasis. These research efforts have resulted in five issued patents and significant publications in high-impact journals. Her discoveries have been recognized by numerous awards, including, the C.P. Leblond Research Award, the Genentech Research Award, the Weil Award in Experimental Neuropathology, the Mayo Clinic Neurology Basic Science Research Award, and most recently the E.K. Frey — E. Werle/Henner Graeff Promotion Prize.
Significance to patient care
Efforts in Dr. Scarisbrick's lab to better understand cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural injury and repair have already identified several new targets for therapies to promote regeneration and restore function after spinal cord injury and in the context of demyelinating disease, including multiple sclerosis.
In addition to new druggable receptor targets, the lab's research has also identified key lifestyle interventions, including diet and exercise training as key factors regulating neural repair in the intact and injured nervous system. Each of these approaches is being studied alone and in combination to improve patient functional outcomes.
- Member, Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council, Minnesota State Office of Higher Education, 2015-present
- Award Recipient, E.K. Frey — E. Werle/Henner Graeff Promotion Prize, 2015