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James Grau

James Grau
Mary Tucker Currie Professor, APA & APS Fellow
Areas of Speciality
  • Behavioral & Cellular Neuroscience
  • (979) 845-2584
  • ILSB 3149A
Professional Links
Office Hours, Spring 2024
Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:00-1:30 PM
Accepting Students for 2024-2025?

Research Interests

Learning, neural plasticity, pain, and the recovery of function after neural injury.

Dr. Grau’s research has focused on a number of topics, including learning, pain modulation, and the recovery of function after spinal cord injury. One line of work has examined whether lower level neural systems within the spinal cord can learn. His work has provided evidence that neurons within the spinal cord are sensitive to both temporal and behavioral relations. Interestingly, this learning appears to involve many of the same neurochemical systems that mediate learning and memory within the brain. More recently, his laboratory has been exploring the implications of these studies for the recovery of function after neural injury. Current research has shown that pain input after injury can increase tissue loss, undermine the recovery of function, and foster the development of chronic pain. Funded by both the Neilsen Foundation and NIH, his laboratory is seeking new treatments to promote recovery and treat pain after injury.

Recent Publications

Turtle, J. D., Strain, M. M., Aceves, M., Huang, Y.-J., Reynolds, J. A., Hook, M. A., & Grau, J. W. (2017). Pain input impairs recovery after spinal cord injury: Treatment with lidocaine. Journal of Neurotrauma, 34, 1200-1208.

Grau, J. W., Huang, Y.-J., Turtle, J. D., Strain, M. M., Miranda, R. M., Garraway, S.M., & Hook, M. A. (2017). When pain hurts: Nociceptive stimulation induces a state of maladaptive plasticity and impairs recovery after spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurotrauma, 34, 1873-1890.

Huang, Y.J., Lee, K. H., & Grau, J. W. (2017). Complete spinal cord injury (SCI) transforms how brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) affects nociceptive sensitization. Experimental Neurology, 288, 38-50.

Baumbauer, K. M., Turtle, J. D., & Grau, J. W. (2017). Fixed spaced stimulation restores adaptive plasticity within the spinal cord: Identifying the eliciting conditions. Physiology & Behavior, 174, 1-9.

Grau, J.W. & Huang, Y.-Y. (2018) Metaplasticity within the spinal cord: Evidence brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and alterations in GABA function (ionic plasticity) modulate pain and the capacity to learn. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 154, 121-135.

Huang, Y.J., & Grau, J.W. (2018). Ionic plasticity and pain: The loss of descending serotonergic fibers after spinal cord injury transforms how GABA affects pain. Experimental Neurology, 306, 105-116.

Turtle, J.D., Strain, M., Reynolds, J., Huang, Y.J., Lee, K., Henwood, M.K., Garraway, S., & Grau, J.W. (2018). Pain input after spinal cord injury undermines long-term recovery and engages signal pathways that promote cell death. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 12,

Turtle, J. D., Brumley, M.K., Strain, M.M., Huang, Y.J., Miranda, R.C., & Grau, J.W. (2019). Engaging pain fibers after a spinal cord injury (SCI) fosters hemorrhage and expands the area of secondary injury. Experimental Neurology, 311, 115-124.

Reynolds, J. A., 1Henwood, M. K., 4Turtle, J. D., 1Baine, R. E., 2Johnston, D. T., & Grau, J. W. (2019). Spared fibers can fuel pain-induced hemorrhage at
the site of injury and increase tissue loss after spinal cord injury. Frontiers
in Systems Neuroscience, 13, doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2019.00044 (Impact,
2018: 3.93)

*Grau, J. W. (2019) Achieving adaptive plasticity in the spinal cord. Oxford
Research Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, ed. Murray Sherman. New York
and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190264086.013.00243 (New outlet, impact
score not available.)
*Papers submitted for publication in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia
were peer reviewed (available upon request).

Strain, M. M., Hook, M. A., 1Reynolds, J. D., 4Huang, Y.-J., 1Henwood, M. K., & Grau, J. W. (2019). A brief period of moderate noxious stimulation
induces hemorrhage and impairs locomotor recovery after spinal cord
injury. Physiology & Behavior, 212, 112695. (5-yr. impact, 2018: 2.85)

Affiliated Research Cluster

Neuroscience. Learning, pain modulation, and recovery of function after spinal cord injuries in rodent models.