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Visar Belegu, Ph.D.
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Dr. Visar Belegu is the director of the Epigenetic and iPS Center for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI) at Kennedy Krieger Institute and an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Born in Kosova, Dr. Visar Belegu received his bachelor of science in biology with a cellular emphasis in 1997 from Northeastern State University. In 2004 he completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center where he identified and characterized the function of heavy chain ferritin as a transcription factor involved in repression of beta globin. He then undertook his post-doctoral fellowship in neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine/Kennedy Krieger Institute.
In 2006, he became a board member of Sickle Cell Cure Foundation. Since completing his post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Belegu has been an integral member of the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI) research team where in 2012 he became the director of the Epigenetic and iPS Center. In 2011, Dr. Belegu was a founding member of EpiMedX, a company developing gene regulation therapy. In 2014, he became an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
His honors include receiving the Oklahoma Chapter for Neuroscience Travel Award in 2002, the Fred and Mary Gray Research Achievement Award in 2003, The International BioIron Award in 2005, and the Leader in Spinal Cord Injury Cure Award in 2014 from the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury.
Dr. Belegu’s research interests are centered on understanding the mechanisms that are disrupted after spinal cord injury, and promotion of neurological recovery in patients that are living with spinal cord injury. To achieve the former his lab works with spinal cord injured patients where they use different modalities of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the changes in the spinal cord and the brain of these patients after spinal cord injury including diffusion tensor imaging and magnetization transfer (for spinal cord imaging), and functional MRI (for brain imaging). In addition, his lab uses clinically relevant models of SCI in mice. To achieve the latter, Dr. Belegu’s lab is focusing on regenerative effects of functional electrical stimulation particularly its effect on endogenous stem cells of the spinal cord.