Dr. Firoj Alom, a postdoctoral associate in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of physiological sciences, has received a 2022 Urology Care Foundation Research Scholar Award, which will support his research for two years.
He received the award for a study on the development of an optogenetic-based strategy for controlling the external urethral sphincter, working under the mentorship of Dr. Aaron Mickle, an assistant professor, and Rita Allen Foundation Scholar at UF.
We will be testing a novel neuromodulation approach for detrusor sphincter dyssynergia (DSD) treatment in an animal model of Spinal cord injuries (SCI). We will inhibit the activity of the nerves contracting the urethral sphincter using viral delivery of light-activated proteins, termed opsins. This gene delivery approach has advantages over electrical nerve modulation in that we can target the specific subtype of neurons that control the sphincter. This work will lead to a better understanding of the neural control of the urethral sphincter and hopefully pave the way for novel treatments of DSD. This research aims to advance treatment options for DSD and help improve the quality of life of patients suffering from SCI.