David Allison - MSc in Applied Health Sciences (Kinesiology)

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

David Allison - MSc in Applied Health Sciences (Kinesiology)

Supervisor: Dr. David Ditor
Research Topic: The acute effects of systemic cytokines on peripheral nerve function

My graduate research focuses on the potential for a molecular interference on nerve function. The findings are applicable to special populations with chronically elevated levels of particular molecules, such as cytokines. The target population for this research is spinal cord injured individuals.

Although the findings of my research are applicable to individuals with spinal cord injuries, the sample population used is able-bodied. This allows for the examination of nerve function under both basal and elevated cytokine levels. As healthy, able-bodied individuals typically have ‘normal’ resting cytokine levels, testing can be performed both before and after the induction of a cytokine spike to examine any changes in nerve function.

If a molecular interference is to cause detrimental effects to nerve function then individuals suffering from spinal cord injuries may experience losses in function further to that caused by the primary damage to the cord. Therefore by examining future methods of reducing the chronic elevation of these molecules, or preventing their negative effects, it may be possible to enhance the motor and sensory abilities of individuals living with spinal cord injuries.

I became interested in the area of spinal cord injury research after taking a 4th year course on the physiological consequences of spinal cord injury taught by Dr David Ditor. The terrific faculty in the kinesiology department made performing graduate studies at Brock an easy choice. In addition to my supervisor and committee members the entire faculty is extremely passionate about their research, yet approachable and willing to provide a helping hand whenever possible. 

Over the course of my master’s degree I have had the opportunity to run the neural acquisition and rehabilitation laboratory at Brock, whereby free training and rehabilitation are offered to individuals living with spinal cord injury. Running this program has allowed me to deepen my understanding of spinal cord injuries as well as those afflicted by them and has made my research a much more personal and rewarding experience. This experience has helped influence my decision to pursue a PhD in the area of spinal cord injuries and hope to ultimately achieve a position as professor.

The knowledge and experience I’ve gained as a researcher at Brock University has proven invaluable. I’ve grown more confident as a researcher and witnessed enormous enhancements in my writing, public speaking and analytical abilities. In addition, the relationships built with fellow graduate students and faculty made graduate studies at Brock an extremely enjoyable experience. As such, I would (and often do) recommend Brock to anyone considering performing a graduate studies program.

Funding & Awards

Harrison Thompson Bursary ($5000) 

April 2011

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario

Dean of Graduate Studies Research Fellowship ($3000)

April 2011

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario

Ida Marietta Houston Graduate Scholarship ($3742)

April 2011

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario

President’s Surgite Award ($1000 & certificate)

March 2011

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario

Dick Pound Award ($177)

November 2010

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario

Harrison Thompson Bursary ($5000)

April 2010

Brock University
St Catharines, Ontario