The research of Matthew J. Fogarty, Ph.D., focuses on the neuromotor system. This system includes motor control centers in the cortex, brainstem and spinal cord, as well as the motor neurons that connect to muscle. Dr. Fogarty is actively engaged in research aimed at understanding the pathophysiology of various neurodegenerative motor disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia).
Dr. Fogarty has extensive experience evaluating disordered development, aging and neurodegenerative diseases using approaches that assess subcellular organelles in animal models. These approaches include electromyelography and nerve-muscle stimulations to assess neuromuscular function, patch clamps to assess neuronal function, and high-resolution spinning-disk confocal microscopy to assess mitochondria and dendritic spines. Transdiaphragmatic pressure and plethysmography are used to assess whole-body movement behaviors.
- Neurodegeneration. Dr. Fogarty uses a variety of animal models to assess the mechanisms and timing of motor system degeneration in ALS. His research suggests that the synaptic connections between neurons are lost prior to neuronal death and muscle weakness.
- Aging. Dr. Fogarty has made seminal contributions to the understanding of age-associated muscle weakness, called sarcopenia. His work shows that sarcopenia may be attributed to motor neuron loss and degeneration.
- Spinal cord injury. Dr. Fogarty has characterized the respiratory deficits in a commonly used model of high-cervical spinal cord injury. He has shown that the recovery from this injury can be enhanced by the use of a novel compound, SPG302, which promotes synaptogenesis. This is the formation of synapses, the points of contact where information is transmitted between neurons in the nervous system.
Significance to patient care
Dr Fogarty's long-term goals are twofold. First, he aims to understand the pathophysiology and timing of various neurodegenerative conditions, such as ALS. Uncovering the first link in the chain of degenerative events will establish a rational target for therapeutic intervention. For example, it seems that in aging and ALS, synapse loss or mitochondrial stress or both are key drivers of pathology. Second, he aims to test pharmaceuticals that directly ameliorate these instigating deficits. In the case of synapse loss in ALS, SPG302 seems to be a promising approach.
- Editorial Board Fellowship, The Journal of Physiology, 2023-present.
- Respiration Section New Investigator Award, American Physiological Society, 2023.
- Australian National Health and Medical Research Council CJ Martin Fellowship, 2016-2021.