Dr. Sonja K. Bareiss


Education History

B.S. Biology
Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO

Masters in Physical Therapy
Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO

Ph.D. Anatomy and Cell Biology
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Key Areas of Interest:  Structural neuronal plasticity, physical (exercise) and pharmaceutical approaches to enhance/restore nervous system function, neuropathic pain, spinal cord injury.

The general theme of my research laboratory is to understand the neuroprotective effects of exercise on central and peripheral nervous system function. More specifically, we are interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in exercise induced recovery from neuropathic pain and neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. Exercise has long been used in rehabilitation settings to manage pain and restore function. Despite the documented benefits of exercise on CNS health and rehabilitation, relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms which lead to neuronal protection, repair, and regeneration. To this end, we are interested in how exercise restores/improves somatosensory and cognitive function after CNS injury and disease.

In a collaborative effort with investigators in the Brody School of Medicine, we are using established animal models of pain to determine the overall effect of exercise and pharmaceutical interventions to treat neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury (SCI) and diabetic neuropathy. We have also initiated a cross campus collaborative project to determine optimal exercise dosages that are necessary to protect against cognitive decline with aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

The overall goal of this research is: (1) To determine how peripheral nervous system dysfunction contributes to the development of neuropathic pain, (2) To identify and modulate (pharmaceutically and with exercise) novel signaling pathways that may be involved in the development and recovery from neuropathic pain, (3) Understand how exercise protects and restores cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.