Research focus

The Borschel Lab at SickKids, led by Dr. Gregory Borschel, is primarily interested in the development of new strategies to improve outcomes following peripheral nerve injury. Our research involves pursuing novel surgical strategies to improve nerve regeneration across large gaps as well as harnessing the potential of new biomaterials for nerve repair.

Local therapeutic agent delivery

Local delivery of therapeutics stimulating axon regeneration holds promise in enhancing outcomes following peripheral nerve injury. Utilizing clinically suitable local delivery systems allows us enhance nerve regeneration without the associated systemic side effects of the therapeutics. One of the lab’s main area of research focuses on engineering various methodologies to deliver active agents to the site of nerve injury. Local delivery of molecules and proteins with neurotrophic properties such as FK506, and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) have been extensively investigated by our team. The Borschel Lab uses material, chemical, and biomedical engineering to design biodegradable and biocompatible drug delivery systems, and we analyze the effect of local drug release on peripheral nerve regeneration both in vitro and in vivo.

Corneal neurotisation

Patients with abnormal or absent corneal sensation develop a disease called neurotrophic keratopathy, which is characterized by corneal injury, scarring and progressive vision loss. Our third area of research investigates corneal neurotisation as a surgical means of reinnervating the cornea to restore corneal sensation and prevent blindness. Corneal neurotisation is a procedure established at SickKids by Drs. Borschel and Ali, which uses normal functioning nerves elsewhere on the face to reinnervate the cornea. Patients who have received corneal neurotisation have demonstrated remarkable improvements in corneal sensation with no further loss of vision. It remains unknown however how corneal reinnervation after corneal neurotisation prevents corneal injury and vision loss and whether corneal neurotisation may prevent vision loss in patients with other forms of decreased corneal sensation from diabetes or infection with HSV or leprosy. To investigate these questions, we have established a novel rat model of corneal neurotisation that we continue to study in our lab.

Electrical muscle stimulation

The Borschel Lab also focuses on using electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to improve functional outcomes following surgical repair of peripheral nerve injuries. We have previously demonstrated enhancement of muscle reinnervation as well as electrophysiological and behavioural recovery following a moderate stimulation paradigm. Elevated levels of intramuscular trophic factor mRNA, such as GDNF mRNA, were observed following EMS.

Contact us

Administrative Assistant

Elizabeth Greczylo

Tel: (416) 813-7654, ext 228197

Fax: (416) 813-6637

Principal Investigator

Dr. Gregory Borschel

Lab Address 

The Borschel Lab

Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, Room 6.9410

Toronto, ON M5G 0A4

Find us at PGCRL