Gary A. Dudley
Creative Research Medal 2004
Gary A. Dudley, Distinguished Research Professor and Director of UGA’s Muscle Biology Laboratory, conducts research that may help patients with spinal cord injuries recover their fitness, health and well-being. For more than 20 years, he has studied skeletal muscles and their metabolic characteristics, function and adaptation under a wide range of conditions including exercise, disuse, disease and injury. In recent years his research has focused on what happens to skeletal muscle following spinal cord injury. Loss of skeletal muscle mass may be linked to the high rate of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and bone loss in individuals with spinal cord injuries. Dr. Dudley discovered that although skeletal muscles atrophied during the first six months following spinal cord injury, muscle quality was not lost and electrical stimulation could be used to build up inactive muscles, often to their pre-injury size. Currently, he is investigating whether electrical stimulation to help bulk up the skeletal muscles improves overall health and reverse diabetes and obesity in this population. If restored fitness in skeletal muscle is effective in slowing type II diabetes following spinal cord injury, then exercise may have a similar benefit in able-bodied people. Dr. Dudley works collaboratively in a biomedical research initiative that partners UGA and the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the nation’s largest hospital for brain and spinal cord injuries.
Distinguished Research Professor 2002