The University of Kentucky College of Medicine is excited to announce that it has named John Gensel, PhD, the director of the UK Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center (SCoBIRC).

Dr. Gensel had served as acting director of the center since January 2022, and the UK College of Medicine is thrilled to have him continue this role in a more permanent capacity.

“I consider it a tremendous privilege to be a member of the exceptional leadership team within the College of Medicine,” Dr. Gensel said. “I look forward to serving the center, University, and Kentucky as we pioneer cutting-edge therapies for traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries and mentor the next generation of diverse and accomplished researchers.”

He added that as he moves from acting director to full director, he is “excited to bring us closer to our goal of being the best center for neurotrauma research and training in the country.”

Dr. Gensel has played a major role in research and education at SCoBIRC since he joined the UK College of Medicine in 2012. In addition to his leadership role, Dr. Gensel is also the SCoBIRC No. 5 Endowed Chair, co-director of two mentored training programs  (R25 postbaccalaureate and T32 graduate), as well as an associate professor with tenure in the UK College of Medicine Department of Physiology.

He has been recognized college- and University-wide as an excellent educator and scientist. He is a recipient of the Charles T. Wethington Excellence in Research Award (2013-2022). In 2021, he received the Office of Biomedical Education and Biomedical Graduate Student Organization Excellent Mentor Award.

Dr. Gensel received his bachelor’s degree in biological basis of behavior at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a PhD and postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience at The Ohio State University.

SCoBIRC was established with support of the Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust, which finances spinal cord and head injury research programs at UK and the University of Louisville through state legislation. For more than two decades, the center has succeeded in its mission to conduct groundbreaking research on areas including, but not limited to, neuron injury, spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury. The center employs more than a dozen primary research faculty who train undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral trainees.

SCoBIRC is one of few neurotrauma research centers worldwide to excel in both spinal cord and traumatic brain injury research.