Adam Ferguson PhD
Assistant Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery
Principal Investigator, Brain and Spinal Injury Center
Dr. Ferguson’s research focuses on the mechanisms of recovery after neurological trauma. Injuries to the brain and spinal cord invoke a number of complex biological processes that work in concert to determine the extent of tissue repair and functional recovery. To further complicate matters, some biological processes have contradictory effects when present at different stages of neurological recovery. For example, mechanisms of synaptic regulation can contribute to cell death in the early phases of recovery but may promote plasticity and restoration of function at later stages. Understanding the mechanisms of repair in the complex microenvironment of the injured central nervous system (CNS) requires a large-scale integration of complex biological information and functional outcomes. Dr. Ferguson’s work uses a combination of molecular and cell biology, behavioral neuroscience, and statistical modeling to provide an information-rich picture of the holistic syndrome produced by CNS trauma in translational models. The long-term goal of this research is to provide system-level therapeutic targets for enhancing recovery of function after brain and spinal injury.
Education, Training, and Previous Positions
- 1994-1998: BA, Southwestern University
1998-2000: MS, Texas A&M University
2000-2004: PhD, Texas A&M University
2004-2006: Postdoctoral Scholar, Neuroscience, Ohio State University
2006-2009: Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurological Surgery, UCSF
2010-present: Research Biologist, San Diego VA
Selected Professional Memberships and Appointments
- Society for Neuroscience
American Association for the Advancement of Science
New York Academy of Sciences
National Neurotrauma Society
American Psychological Association, Division 6
Selected Honors and Awards
- 1996: Psi Chi
2000: Phi Kappa Phi
2000: Texas A&M University Thesis Minigrant
2002: Society for Neuroscience Chapters/Eli Lilly Graduate Student Travel Award
2004: Texas A&M University Distinguished Graduate Student Doctoral Research Award
2006: Ohio State Medical Center Research Day Postdoc Poster Competition Winner
2007: National Neurotrauma Symposium Travel Grant Winner
2007: Michael Goldberger Prize, National Neurotrauma Society
2009: Nanosymposium Chair, Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting
2006-2010: NIH NINDS Individual NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)
2010-2013: NIH NINDS R01 (Early Stage Investigator Award)
2010-2015: NIH NINDS R01 (Established Investigator Award)
Selected Recent Publications
Beattie MS, Ferguson AR, Bresnahan JC. AMPA-receptor trafficking and injury-induced cell death. Eur J Neurosci. 2010 Jul 14. [Epub ahead of print].
Ferguson AR, Bolding KA, Huie JR, Hook MA, Santillano DR, Miranda RC, Grau JW. Group I metabotropic glutamate receptors control metaplasticity of spinal cord learning through a protein kinase C-dependent mechanism. J Neurosci 2008;28(46):11939-49.
Ferguson AR, Christensen RN, Gensel JC, Miller BA, Sun F, Beattie EC, Bresnahan JC, Beattie MS. Cell death after spinal cord injury is exacerbated by rapid TNF alpha-induced trafficking of GluR2-lacking AMPARs to the plasma membrane. J Neurosci 2008;28(44):11391-400.
Miller BA, Sun F, Christensen RN, Ferguson AR, Bresnahan JC, Beattie MS. A sublethal dose of TNFalpha potentiates kainate-induced excitotoxicity in optic nerve oligodendrocytes. Neurochem Res 2005;30(6-7):867-75.
Liu GT, Ferguson AR, Crown ED, Bopp AC, Miranda RC, Grau JW. Instrumental learning within the rat spinal cord: localization of the essential neural circuit. Behav Neurosci 2005;119(2):538-47.
Grau JW, Washburn SN, Hook MA, Ferguson AR, Crown ED, Garcia G, Bolding KA, Miranda RC. Uncontrollable stimulation undermines recovery after spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma 2004;21(12):1795-817.
Ferguson AR, Hook MA, Garcia G, Bresnahan JC, Beattie MS, Grau JW. A simple post hoc transformation that improves the metric properties of the BBB scale for rats with moderate to severe spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma 2004;21(11):1601-13.
Patton BC, Hook MA, Ferguson AR, Crown ED, Grau JW. The behavioral deficit observed following noncontingent shock in spinalized rats is prevented by the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. Behav Neurosci 2004;118(3):653-8.
Ferguson AR, Patton BC, Bopp AC, Meagher MW, Grau JW. Brief exposure to a mild stressor enhances morphine-conditioned place preference in male rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2004;175(1):47-52.
Ferguson AR, Washburn SN, Crown ED, Grau JW. GABA(A) receptor activation is involved in noncontingent shock inhibition of instrumental conditioning in spinal rats. Behav Neurosci 2003;117(4):799-812.
Crown ED, Ferguson AR, Joynes RL, Grau JW. Instrumental learning within the spinal cord. II. Evidence for central mediation. Physiol Behav 2002;77(2-3):259-67.
Crown ED, Ferguson AR, Joynes RL, Grau JW. Instrumental learning within the spinal cord: IV. Induction and retention of the behavioral deficit observed after noncontingent shock. Behav Neurosci 2002;116(6):1032-51.
Joynes RL, Ferguson AR, Crown ED, Patton BC, Grau JW. Instrumental learning within the spinal cord: V. Evidence the behavioral deficit observed after noncontingent nociceptive stimulation reflects an intraspinal modification. Behav Brain Res 2003;141(2):159-70.
Gómez-Pinilla F, Huie JR, Ying Z, Ferguson AR, Crown ED, Baumbauer KM, Edgerton VR, Grau JW. BDNF and learning: Evidence that instrumental training promotes learning within the spinal cord by up-regulating BDNF expression. Neuroscience 2007;148(4):893-906.
Ferguson AR, Crown ED, Grau JW. Nociceptive plasticity inhibits adaptive learning in the spinal cord. Neuroscience 2006;141(1):421-31.
Hook MA, Ferguson AR, Garcia G, Washburn SN, Koehly LM, Grau JW. Monitoring recovery after injury: procedures for deriving the optimal test window. J Neurotrauma 2004;21(1):109-18.
Sieve AN, King TE, Ferguson AR, Grau JW, Meagher MW. Pain and negative affect: evidence the inverse benzodiazepine agonist DMCM inhibits pain and learning in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2001;153(2):180-90.
Meagher MW, Ferguson AR, Crown ED, McLemore S, King TE, Sieve AN, Grau JW. Shock-induced hyperalgesia: IV. Generality. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 2001;27(3):219-38.