• I am a VA Health Science Specialist at the Birmingham VAMC and an assistant professor in the department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology. My research interests look into how paralysis changes muscle mitochondrial function and systemic metabolism. We use transgenic mice with a muscle specific knockout of connexin43/45 hemichannels to systematically understand their role in creating muscle dysfunction after paralysis. Additional studies in our lab repurpose current drugs and test nutraceuticals after contusion spinal cord injury. Metabolomics, high resolution microscopy, mouse behavioral tests and standard protein and RNA biochemistry/molecular biology are the primary outcomes of our studies.
  • Research Overview

  • Spinal cord injury leads to drastic loss in muscle mass below the area of spinal injury. How paralysis and unloading alters skeletal muscle and muscle mitochondrial function are not well described. One potential mechanism is the de novo appearance of connexin hemichannels in fast twitch muscle fibers. We use a muscle-specific knockdown of connexin43/45 hemichannels to determine how reductions in these proteins alter mitochondrial morphology, muscle and locomotor function, and changes in the metabolomic profiles. Additional focuses of my studies are the role of fitness and health at the time of a spinal cord injury in predicting recovery outcomes in the acute and subacute timeframes after paralysis.
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Exercise Physiology, University of Kansas 2014
  • Master of Education in Exercise Physiology, University of Kansas 2010
  • Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Language Teacher Education, The Ohio State University 2008
  • National Center for the Medical Consequences of Spinal Cord Injury, Postdoctoral Fellowship 2018
  • Full Name

  • Zachary Graham