A Conversation with Dr. Jason Carmel….
Dr. Carmel grew up in Manhattan and received his undergraduate degree in Human Biology from Stanford University in California. Born into a family of physicians, Jason knew that he would pursue a career as a doctor, although he did not know in what type of medicine he would specialize. Following graduation from Stanford, Jason returned to New York and began medical school at Columbia University. During his second year at Columbia, tragedy struck his family. Jason’s twin brother, David, suffered a spinal cord injury while vacationing in Mexico. This event, though tragic, led Jason to his destiny as a neuroscientist studying plasticity and repair of damaged brains and spinal cords.
Jason has extraordinary mentors in his life, including his father, Dr. Peter Carmel, a pediatric neurosurgeon; Dr. Wise Young, his PhD mentor at while he studied at Rutgers University; and Dr. Jack Martin of City College, Jason’s research advisor. They have all helped to guide Jason’s thinking as he tirelessly works to better understand how the nervous system can be coaxed into repair and recovery following damage. Studies have shown that some tracks, or nerve fibers, are preserved following a spinal cord injury. Jason is working to encourage those spared connections to take on a more robust role in the spinal cord circuitry so that they can compensate for the connections that were lost in the injury. With the use of specific, activity based treatments combined with electrical stimulation, Jason and his team at Burke are evaluating the ability of these tracks to improve sensation and movement below the level of the spinal cord injury- something that was significantly compromised following the injury.
Jason is excited about the spinal cord injury research that is happening now and believes that the neuroscience of spinal cord damage and repair is the most exciting area of science and medicine. Before, people had “hope” that treatments in the experimental stages could successfully be applied to people living with spinal cord injuries. “Hope” has turned into tangible evidence that meaningful treatments are on the way.
When not working in the lab and collaborating with his colleagues around the country, Jason enjoys spending time with his family, including his three young children.
The TRF is proud to support his work and looks forward to hearing about his results and future studies.