Dr. David Schulz

David Schulz
Director and Professor of Biological Sciences
105 / 117 Tucker Hall

PhD, 2001 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Summary

Neural network plasticity as a result of injury and disease

Research Description

The nervous system is an interconnected system of neural networks that controls everything from the most critical basic functions (e.g. breathing, walking) to highly complex behaviors. Because of this interconnected nature of the nervous system, injury and disease in one part of the brain can have downstream effects on other networks even though those networks themselves are not injured. The Schulz Lab is interested in how loss of function in one “upstream” aspect of a neural network can have profound impacts on the uninjured “downstream” aspects of these systems.

The two major questions in the Schulz lab are how loss of input to neural networks changes the properties of the neurons of these networks, and what the impacts of those changes are for prospective recovery from injury. In particular, we are interested in how spinal cord injury changes the neural networks below the injury that are responsible for not only locomotion, but also the networks controlling fundamental and critical functions like bladder and bowel output.

We combine molecular expression profiling with electrophysiology to understand how neuron and network physiology change, as well as the cellular basis for those changes. We use mouse models of spinal cord injury and neurological disease to conduct these studies. However, the mammalian nervous system presents many difficulties for detailed mechanistic investigation. Therefore, in addition we use crustacean models (crabs and lobsters) to understand basic principles of neural network function and dysfunction following injury and perturbation.

Awards and Honors

Provost Award for University Citizenship in Faculty Leadership 2024

Ann K. Covington Award 2019

AAAS Fellow 2019

William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence 2018

Richard F. and Sharon A. Keister Faculty Enhancement Award in Biological Sciences 2017

Selected Publications

See Google Scholar for a list of Dr. Schulz's publications.