John W. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. John McDonald
John McDonald
Director, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI)

Kennedy Krieger Institute
716 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: (443) 923-9211
Email: McDonaldJ@kennedykrieger.org

A neurologist and research scientist, Dr. McDonald directs the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute.


Biographical Sketch:

Dr. McDonald graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana in 1985 with a bachelor’s of science degree, magna cum laude, in neuroscience. From there, he matriculated at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he began a combined M.D./Ph.D. program in the Medical Scientists Training Program (MSTP) that he completed in 1992. While pursuing his advanced degrees, Dr. McDonald completed a fellowship in neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and served as a visiting scientist at Eli Lilly and Co., in Indianapolis, IN. After receiving his medical degree and his doctorate, Dr. McDonald completed an internship in preliminary medicine at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. From 1993-1996, he completed his post-graduate training in adult neurology at St. Louis' Barnes Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Following his residency, Dr. McDonald joined the Washington University faculty in the Department of Neurology as an instructor in 1997, and was promoted to assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. He also held co-assistant professorships in the Departments of Neurological Surgery and Anatomy and Neurobiology.

In 1998, Dr. McDonald was named as the medical director of the spinal cord neurorehabilitative unit at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, and section head of spinal cord injury program at Washington University. There, he spearheaded development of what is now a leading spinal cord injury neuralrestoration program. It was there that he also developed the "activity-based restoration" (ABR) therapies designed to help patients with long-term spinal cord injuries recover sensation, movement and independence -- the therapy approached publically acknowledged as producing the substantial and delayed recovery of actor/activist Christopher Reeve.

Dr. McDonald joined Kennedy Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2004 in order to launch a brand-new spinal cord rehabilitation and research program with a focus on pediatric paralysis, a program that will become the only of its kind in the world. Dr. McDonald also holds a primary appointment as an associate professor in the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with co-appointments in physical medicine and rehabilitation and neuroscience departments.

Dr. McDonald sits on the advisory boards of two companies, Restorative Therapies, Inc. of Baltimore, MD, and BioAxone of Montreal, Canada. He is the present chairman of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program Advisory Board at the University of Missouri, Columbia and holds positions on the New York State SCI Research board and the Philadelphia Shriner's Hospital Medical Advisory Board.

Recent professional honors include being named Medical Director of the Year by insurer HealthSouth, receiving the SCI Research Inspiration Award from the Sam Schmidt Foundation and receiving the Reeve Research for Freedom Award from Gateway to a Cure.


Research Summary:

Dr. McDonald's research interests focus on the development of interventions to reduce spinal cord injury, promote remyelination, enhance regeneration and encourage recovery of function. In addition, Dr. McDonald is interested in studying the biology of embryonic stem cells, neural progenitor cells, mechanisms of oligodendrocyte death and glutamate excitotoxicity, mechanisms regulating myelination and the ontogeny of excitatory amino acid and related neurotransmitter pathways in the brain and their relationship to neurological disease.

Dr. McDonald also actively leads industry multi-center clinical trials in spinal cord injury repair, having completed six trials to date, including the first human stem cell transplantation study with the company Diacrin. In addition to the completion of an ongoing project examining the efficacy of activity-based restoration in 60 adult patients with spinal cord injuries, Dr. McDonald and his team at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury will soon launch a large prospective multi-center trial evaluating the efficacy of these therapies in pediatric patients in collaboration with the Philadephia Shriner's Hospital.

Dr. McDonald’s research is increasingly focusing on approaches to regeneration and restoration of function in spinal cord injury and other disorders of paralysis using activity-base therapies. Such focus includes other regenerative approaches that have the potential of being translated into human therapies in the near-term.

LINK: SciVal Experts Research Profile for John McDonald


Research Studies:


Research Publications

Sadowsky, C.L., Hammond, E.R., Strohl, A.B., Commean, P.K., Eby, S.A., Damiano, D.L., Wingert, J.R., Bae, K.T., McDonald, J.W. (2013). Lower extremity functional electrical stimulation cycling promotes physical and functional recovery in chronic spinal cord injury. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, in press.

Malone, M., Gary, D., Yang, I.H., Miglioretti, A., Houdayer, T., Thakor, N., McDonald, J. (2013). Neuronal Activity Promotes Myelination via cAMP Pathway. Glia, 61(6),843-54.

James C Pendleton, B.S.; Michael J Shamblott, Ph.D.; Devin S Gary, Ph.D.; Visar Belegu, Ph.D.; Andres Hurtado, M.D.; Misti L Malone, M.S., Ph.D, John W. McDonald, MD, PhD (2013). Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans Inhibit Oligodendrocyte Myelination through PTPσ. Experimental Neurology, 247C,113-21.

Tao, F., Li, Q., Liu, S., Wu, H., Skinner, J., Hurtado, A., Belegu, V., Furmanski, O., Yang, Y., McDonald, J.W., Johns, R.A. (2013). Role of neuregulin-1/ErbB signaling in stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury-induced chronic neuropathic pain. Stem Cells, 31(1),83-91.

Malone, M., Gary, D., Yang, I.H., Miglioretti, A., Houdayer, T., Thakor, N., McDonald, J.(2012). Bone marrow stromal cell-mediated tissue sparing enhances functional repair after spinal cord contusion in adult rats. Cell Transplant, 21(7), 1561-75.

Pan, B., Grunewald, B., Nguyen, T., Farah, M., Polydefkis, McDonald, J., Schramm, L.P., Toyka, K.V., Hoke, A., Griffin, J.W. (2012). The lateral thoracic nerve and the cutaneous maximus muscle – a novel in vivo model system for nerve degeneration and regeneration studies. Experimental Neurology, 236(1), 6-18.

Martin, R., Sadowsky, C., Obst, K., Bamford, B., McDonald, J. (2012). Functional Electrical Stimulation in Spinal Cord Injury: From Theory to Practice. Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, 18(1), 28-33.

Gary, D.S., Malone, M., Capestany, P., Houdayer, T., McDonald, J.W. (2012). Electrical field stimulation promotes the survival of MBP+ oligodendrocytes in mixed cortical cultures. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 90(1): 72-83.

Recio, A.C., Felter, C.E., Schneider, A.C., McDonald, J.W. (2012). High-voltage electrical stimulation for the management of stage III and IV pressure ulcers among adults with spinal cord injury: demonstration of its utility for recalcitrant wounds below the level of injury. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 35(1), 58-63.

Sadowsky, C.L., Becker, D., Bosques, G., Dean, J.M., McDonald, J.W., Recio, A., Frohman, E.M. (2011). Rehabilitation in transverse myelitis. Continuum, 17(4), 816-30.

Hurtado, A., Cregg, J.M., Wang, H.B., Wendell, D.F., Oudega, M., Gilbert, J.R.,McDonald, J.W. (2011). Robust CNS regeneration after complete spinal cord transection using aligned poly-l-lactic acid microfibers. Biomaterials, 32(26), 6068-79.

Li, Q., Brus-Ramer, M., Martin, J.H., McDonald, J.W. (2010). Electrical stimulation of the medullary pyramid promotes proliferation and differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in the corticospinal tract of the adult rat. Neuroscience Letters, 479(2), 128-33.

Becker, D., Gary, D.S., Rosenqeig, E.S., Grill, W.M., McDonald, J.W. (2010).Functional electrical stimulation helps replenish progenitor cells in the injured spinal cord of adult rats. Experimental Neurology, 222(2), 211-218.

Smith, S.A., Jones, C.K., Gifford, A., Belegu, V., Chodkowski, Ba Farrell JAD, Landman, B.A., Reich, D.S., Calabresi, P.A., McDonald, J.W. & van Zijl PCM. (2010).Reproducibility of tract-specific magnetization transfer and diffusion tensor imaging in the cervical spinal cord at 3 Tesla. NMR Biomedicine, 23(2), 207-17.

Sadowsky, C.L., McDonald, J.W. (2009). Activity-based restorative therapies: concepts and applications in spinal cord injury-related neurorehabilitation. Review.Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 15(2), 112-6.

Kadam, S.D., Mulholland, J.D., McDonald, J.W. & Comi, A.M. (2009). Poststroke subgranular and rostral subventricular zone proliferation in a mouse model of neonatal stroke. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 87(12), 2653-66.

Duggan, P.S., Siegel, A.W., Blass, D.M., Bok, H., Coyle, J.T., Faden, R., Finkel, J., Gearhart, J.D., Greely, H.T., Hillis, A., Hoke, A., Johnson, R., Johnston, M., Kahn, J., Krrr, D., King, P., Kurtzberg, J., Liao, S.M., McDonald, J.W., McKhann, G., Nelson, K.B., Rao, M., Regenberg, A., Smith, K., Solter, D., Song, H., Sugarman, J., Traystman, R.J., Vescovi, A., Yanofski, J., Young, W. & Mtthews, D.J. (2009). Unintended changes in cognition, mood, and behavior arising from cell-based interventions for neurological conditions: ethical challenges. American Journal of Bioethics, 9(5), 31-36.

Regenberg, A., Mathews, D.J., Blass, D.M., Bok, H., Coyle, J.T., Duggan, P., Faden, R., Finkel, J., Gearhart, J.D., Hillis, A., Hoke, A., Johnson, R., Johnston, M., Kahn, J., Kerr, D., King, P., Kurtaberg, J., Liao, S.M., McDonald, J.W., McKhann, G., Nelson, K.B., Rao, M., Siegel, A.W., Smith, K., Solter, D., Song, H., Sugarman, J., Vescovi, A., Young, W., Greely, H.T. & Traystman, R.J. (2009). The role of animal models in evaluating reasonable safety and efficacy for human trials of cell-based interventions for neurologic conditions. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 29(1), 1-9.

Matthews, D.J., Sugarman, J., Bok, H., Blass, D.M., Coyle, J.T., Duggan, P., Finkel, J., Greely, H.T., Hillis, A., Hoke, A., Johnson, R., Johnston, M., Kahn, J., Kerr, D., Kurtzberg, J., Liao, S.M., McDonald, J.W., McKhann, G., Nelson, K.B., Rao, M., Regenberg, A., Siegel, A.W., Smith, K., Solter, D., Song, H., Vescovi, A., Young, W., Gearhart, J.D. & Faden, R. (2008). Cell-based interventions for neurologic conditions: ethical challenges for early human trials. Neurology, 71(4), 288-93.

Comi, I., Cho, E., Mulholland, J.D., Hooper, A., Li, Q., Qu, Y., Gary, D.S., McDonald, J.W. (2008). Neural stem cells reduce brain injury after unilateral carotid ligation. Pediatric Neurology, 28(2), 86-92.

Belegu, V., Oudega, M., Gary, D.S., McDonald, J.W. (2007). Restoring function after spinal cord injury: promoting spontaneous regeneration with stem cells and activity-based therapies. Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, 18(1), 43-68.

McDonald, J.W., Belegu, V. (2006). Demyelination and remyelination after spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurotrauma, 23(2-4), 345-59.
Vadivelu, S., Platik, M.M., Chol, L., Lacy, M.L., Shah, A.R., Qu, Y. Holekamp, T.F., Becker, D., Gottlieb, D.I., Gidday, J.M., &  McDonald, J.W. (2005). Multi-germ layer lineage centeral nervous system repair: nerve and vascular cell generation by embryonic stem cells transplanted in the injured brain. Journal of Neuosurgery, 103, 124-35.

Anderson, D.K., Beattle, M., Blesch, A., Bresnahan , Bunge M, Dietrich, D., Distz, V., Dobkin, B., Fawcett, J., Fehlings, M., Fischer, I., Grossman, R., Guest, J., Hagg, T., Hall, E.D., Houle, J., Kleitman, N., McDonald, J.W., Murray, M., Privat, A., Reier, P., Steeves, J., Steward, O., Tetzlaff, W., Tuszynski, M.H., Waxman, S.G., Whittemore, S., Wolpaw, J., Young, W., & Zheng, B. (2005).Recommended guidelines for studies of human subjects with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord, 43(8), 453-8.

Myckatyn, T.M., Mackinnon, S.E., & McDonald, J.W. (2004). Stem cell transplantation and other novel techniques for promoting recovery from spinal cord injury. Transplant Immunology, 12(3), 343-58.

McDonald, J.W., Becker, D., Holekamp, T.F., Howard, M.J., Liu, S., Lu, A., Lu, J., Platik, M.M., Qu, Y., Stewart, T., & Vadivelu, S. (2004). Repair of the injured spinal cord and the potential of embryonic stem cell transplantation. Journal of Neurotrauma, 21(4), 383-93.

McDonald, J.W. & Becker, D. (2003). Spinal Cord Injury: Promising Interventions and Realistic Goals. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 82(10 Suppl), S38-49.

Dong, H., Fazzaro A., Xiang, C., Korsmeyer, S., Jacquin, M.F., & McDonald, J.W.(2003). Enhanced oligodendrocyte survival after spinal cord injury in Bax-deficient mice and mice with delayed Wallerian degeneration. Journal of Neuroscience, 23(25), 8682-91.

McDonald, J.W., Becker D, Sadowsky, C., Jane, J.A., Conturo, T.E., & Schultz, L.M. (2002). Late recovery following spinal cord injury; case report and review of the literature. Journal of Neurosurgery, 97(2 Suppl), 252-65.

Becker D, Sadowsky, C., & McDonald, J.W. (2003). Restoring function after spinal cord surgery. The Neurologist, 9(1), 1-15.

McDonald J.W., Sadowsky C. (2002). Spinal Cord Injury. Lancet, 359(9304), 417-25.

Sadowsky, C., Volshteyn, O., Schiltz, L., McDonald, J.W. (2002). Spinal Cord Injury.Disability and Rehabilitation, 24(13), 680-687.