Keith Fenrich


University of Alberta


[email protected]

Research Keywords

Spinal cord injury, in vivo microscopy, two-photon imaging, neuroplasticity, rehabilitation, spinal networks

Additional Information

PubMed Search String

Fenrich K[Author]

Biographical Information


2009         Doctor of Philosophy, supervised by Dr. P. Ken Rose. Department of Physiology, Queen’s University, Kingston ON, Canada

2003         Bachelor of Science with specialization in Pharmacology, supervised by Dr. Vivian K. Mushahwar, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada


Professional Experience / Appointments

2021-present, Assistant Professor, University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

2017-2021, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

2017-2021, Research Associate with Dr. John Misiaszek, University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

2013-2017, Post-doctoral fellow with Drs. Karim Fouad and Dave Bennett, University of Alberta, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. 

2010-2013, Post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Geneviève Rougon, CNRS Marseille, France, Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille.

2003-2009, Doctoral student with Dr. P. Ken Rose, Queen’s University, Department of Physiology.


2002-2003, Undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Vivian K. Muschahwar, University of Alberta, Department of Biomedical Engineering. 



1.      Toth AL, Fenrich KK, Jones KE, Misiaszek JE. Coupling of single cutaneous afferents in the hand with ankle muscles, and their response to rapid light touch displacements. J Neurophysiol. 2022 Apr 1;127(4):1040-1053. doi: 10.1152/jn.00280.2021. Epub 2022 Mar 23.

2.      Lucas-Osma AM, Vavrek R, Bennett DJ, Fouad K, Fenrich KK. Rehabilitative training improves skilled forelimb motor function after cervical unilateral contusion spinal cord injury in rats. Behav Brain Res. 2022 Mar 26;422:113731. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113731. (Senior and Corresponding author)

3.      Schmidt EKA, Raposo PJF, Torres-Espín A, Fenrich KK, Fouad K. Beyond the lesion site: minocycline augments inflammation and anxiety-like behavior following SCI in rats through action on the gut microbiota. J Neuroinflammation. 2021 Jun 26;18(1):144. doi: 10.1186/s12974-021-02123-0.

4.      Schmidt EKA, Raposo PJF, Madsen K, Fenrich KK, Karbachuk G, Fouad K. What makes a successful donor? Fecal transplant from anxious-like rats does not prevent spinal cord injury-induced dysbiosis. Biology (Basel). 2021 Mar 24;10(4):254. doi: 10.3390/biology10040254.

5.      Mah KM, Torres-Espín A, Hallworth BW, Bixby JL, Lemmon VP, Fouad K, Fenrich KK. Automation of training and testing motor tasks in pre-clinical behavioral and rehabilitative neuroscience. Exp Neurol. 2021 Jun;340:113647. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113647. (Senior and Corresponding author)

6.      Fenrich KK, Hallworth BW, Vavrek R, Raposo PJF, Misiaszek JM, Bennett DJ, Fouad K, Torres-Espin A. Self-directed rehabilitation training intensity thresholds for efficient recovery of skilled forelimb function in rats with cervical spinal cord injury. Exp Neurol. 2021 May;339:113543. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2020.113543.(Corresponding author).

7.      Li Y, Hari K, Lucas–Osma AM, Fenrich KK, Bennett DJ, Hammar I, Jankowska E. Branching points of primary afferent fibres are vital for the modulation of fibre excitability by epidural DC polarization and by GABA in the rat spinal cord. J Neurophysiol (2020) Jul 1;124(1):49-62. doi: 10.1152/jn.00161.2020.

8.      Afsharipour B., Manzur N, Duchcherer J, Fenrich KK, Thompson C, Negro F, Quinlan KA, Bennett DJ, Gorassini MA. Estimation of self-sustained activity from persistent inward currents using firing rate profiles of multiple motor units in humans. J Neurophys (2020) Jul 1;124(1):63-85. doi: 10.1152/jn.00194.2020.

9.      Benson CA, Fenrich KK, Olson KL, Patwa S, Bangalore L, Waxman SG, Tan AM. Dendritic spine dynamics after peripheral nerve injury: an intravital structural study. J Neurosci (2020) May 27; 40(22):4297-4308. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2858-19.2020

10.   Fenrich KK. When microscopes and astronomy collide: correcting movement artifacts from in vivo microscopy using a decades old approach to image stars. J Physiol. (2020) 598(10):1793-1794. doi: 10.1113/JP279635. [Epub ahead of print]. (Senior and Corresponding author)

11.   Schmidt EKA, Torres-Espín A, Raposo P, Madsen K, Kigerl KA, Popovich PG, Fenrich KK, Fouad K. Fecal transplant prevents gut dysbiosis and anxiety-like behaviour after spinal cord injury in rats. PLoS One (2020) Jan 15;15(1):e0226128.

12.   Misiaszek JE, Chodan SDC, McMahon AJ, Fenrich KK. Influence of pairing startling acoustic stimuli with postural responses induces by light touch displacement. Applied Sciences (2020) 10(1),382:1-22

13.   Lin S**, Li Y**, Lucas-Osma AM, Hari K, Stephens MJ, Singla R, Heckman CJ, Zhang Y, Fouad K, Fenrich KK*, Bennett DJ*. Locomotor-related V3 interneurons initiate and coordinate muscles spasms after spinal cord injury. J Neurophysiol (2019) Apr 1;121(4):1352-1367. doi.org/10.1152/jn.00776.2018 (*Co-senior authors, **Co-lead authors).

14.   Lucas-Osma AM*, Li Y*, Murray KC, Lin S, Black S, Stephens MJ, Ahn AH, Heckman CJ, Fenrich KK, Fouad K, Bennett DJ. 5-HT1D receptors inhibit the monosynaptic stretch reflex by modulating C fibre activity. J Neurophysiol (2019) May 1;121(5):1591-1608. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00805.2018 (*Co-lead authors).

15.   Bryanton MA, Chodan SDC, Vander Meulen J, Fenrich KK, Misiaszek JE. The effect of light touch on standing sway when the stability of the external touch reference becomes unreliable. Exp Brain Res (2019) 237:663-672. doi: 10.1152/jn.00499.2018.

16.   Fouad K, Torres-Espín A, Fenrich KK. Mechanisms of behavioral changes after spinal cord injury. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (2019). Pages: 1-35. Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264086.013.245

17.   Lucas-Osma AM**, Li Y**, Lin S, Black S, Singala R, Fouad K, Fenrich KK*, Bennett DJ*. Extrasynaptic α5GABAA receptors on proprioceptive afferents produce a tonic depolarization that modulates sodium channel function in the rat spinal cord. J Neurophys (2018). Dec 1; 120(6):2953-2974. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00499.2018. (*Co-senior authors, **Co-lead authors; Cover).

18.   Torres-Espín A*, Beaudry E*, Fenrich KK, Fouad K. Rehabilitative training in animal models of spinal cord injury. J. Neurotrauma (2018) 35(16):1970-1985. doi: 10.1089/neu.2018.5906 (*Co-lead authors).

19.   Torres-Espín A, Forero J, Fenrich KK, Locas-Osma AM, Krajacic A, Schmidt E, Bennett DJ, Popovich PG, Fouad K. Eliciting inflammation enables successful rehabilitative training in chronic spinal cord injury. Brain (2018) 141(7):1946-1962. doi: 10.1093/brain/awy128

20.   Caravagna C, Jaouen A, Desplat-Jégo S, Fenrich KK, Bergot E, Luche H, Grenot P, Rougon G, Malissen M, Debarbieux F. Diversity of innate immune cell subsets across spatial and temporal scales in an EAE mouse model. Sci Rep (2018)23;8:5146, pages 1-16. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22872-y.

21.   Jack AS, Hurd C, Forero J, Nataraj A, Fenrich KK, Blesch A, Fouad K. Cortical electrical stimulation in female rats with a cervical spinal cord injury to promote axonal outgrowth. J Neurosci Res. (2018) 96(5):852-862. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24209.

22.   Torres-Espín A*, Forero J*, Schmidt E, Fouad K, Fenrich KK. A motorized pellet dispenser to deliver high intensity training of the single pellet task in rats. Behav Brain Res (2018) 336:67-76. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.08.033. (Senior and Corresponding author)

23.   May Z, Kumar R, Führmann T, Tam R, Vulic K, Forero J, Lucas-Osma A, Fenrich KK, Assinck P, Lee MJ, Moulson A, Shoichet MS, Tetzlaff W, Biernaskie J, Fouad K. Adult skin-derived precursor Schwann cell grafts form growths in the injured spinal cord of Fisher rats. Biomed Mater (2018) 2018 Feb 20;13(3):034101. doi: 10.1088/1748-605X/aa95f8.

24.   May Z*, Fenrich KK*, Dahlby J, Batty NJ, Torres-Espín A, Fouad K. Following Spinal Cord Injury Transected Reticulospinal Tract Axons Develop New Collateral Inputs to Spinal Interneurons in Parallel with Locomotor Recovery. Neural Plast (2017) 2017:1932875. doi: 10.1155/2017/1932875. (*Co-lead authors).

25.   May Z, Torres-Espín A, Lucas-Osma A, Batty NJ, Raposo P, Fenrich KK, Stykel MG, Führmann T, Shoichet M, Biernaskie J, Fouad K. Cyclosporine-immunosuppression does not affect survival of transplanted skin-derived precursor Schwann cells in the injured rat spinal cord. Neurosci Let (2017) 658:67-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.08.045

26.   Li Y, Lucas-Osma AM, Black S, Bandet MV, Stephens MJ, Vavrek R, Sanelli L, Fenrich KK, Di Narzo AF, Dracheva S, Winship IR, Fouad K, Bennett DJ. Pericytes impair capillary blood flow and motor function after chronic spinal cord injury. Nat Med (2017) 23(6):733-741. doi: 10.1038/nm.4331.

27.   Chrobok NL, Jaouen J, Fenrich KK, Bol JGJM, Wilhelmus MMM, Drucharch B, Debarbieux F, van Dam AM. Monocyte behaviour and tissue transglutaminase expression during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in transgenic CX3CR1gfp/gfp mice. Amino Acids (2017) 49(3):643-658, DOI:10.1007/s00726-016-2359-0

28.   Batty NJ, Fenrich KK, Fouad K. The role of cAMP and its downstream targets in neurite growth in the adult nervous system. Neurosci Letters (2017) 652:56-63. DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2016.08.009.

29.   Fenrich KK, May Z, Torres-Espín A, Forero J, Bennett DJ, Fouad K. Single pellet grasping following cervical spinal cord injury in adult rat using automated ad libitum full-time training robot. Behav Brain Res (2016) 299:59-71. (Corresponding author).

30.   Paveliev M, Fenrich KK, Kislin M, Kulesskaya N, Kuja-Panula J, Kajander T, Määttänen A, Kari E, Mugantseva E, Ahonen-Bishopp A, Khiroug L, Ihalainen P, Reikkola ML, Peltonen J, Rougon G, Rauvala H. HB-GAM (pleiotrophin) reverses inhibition of neural regeneration by chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans. Sci Reports (2016) 6:33916DOI: 10.1038/srep33916

31.   Wei D, Hurd C, Galleguillos D, Singh J, Fenrich KK, Webber C, Sipione S, Fouad K. Inhibiting cortical PKA activity in spinal cord injured rats allows for enhanced corticospinal tract plasticity and rehabilitative training efficacy via EPAC. Exp Neurol (2016) 283(Pt A):365-374.

32.   Fenrich KK, May Z, Hurd C, Boychuk CE, Kowalczewski J, Bennett DJ, Whishaw IQ, Fouad, K. Improved single pellet grasping using automated ad libitum full-time training robot. Behav Brain Res (2015) 281:137-148. (Corresponding author).

33.   Maratta R, Fenrich KK, Zhao EY, Neuber-Hess MS, Rose PK. Distribution and density of contacts from noradrenergic and serotonergic boutons on the dendrites of neck flexor motoneurons in the adult cat. J Comp Neurol (2015) 523(11):1701-1716

34.   Fenrich KK, Zhao EY*, Wei Y, Garg A, Rose PK. Isolating specific cell and tissue compartments from 3D image stacks for quantitative regional distribution analysis using novel high-throughput algorithms. Journal of Neuroscience Methods (2014) 226(2014):42-56. (Corresponding author; *co-lead author).

35.   Fenrich KK, Weber P, Rougon G, Debarbieux F. Implanting glass spinal cord windows in adult mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J. Vis. Exp. (2013) (82), e50826, doi:10.3791/50826. (Corresponding author).

36.   Fenrich KK, Weber P, Rougon G, Debarbieux F. Long- and short-term intravital imaging reveals differential spatiotemporal recruitment and function of myelomonocytic cells after spinal cord injury. J Physiol. (2013) 591(19):4895-4902 (Cover, corresponding author).

37.   Montague SJ, Fenrich KK, Mayer-Macaulay C, Maratta R, Neuber-Hess MS, Rose PK. Non-uniform distribution of contacts from noradrenergic and serotonergic boutons on the dendrites of cat splenius motoneurons. J. Comp Neurol. (2013) 521(3):638-656.

38.   Fenrich KK, Weber P, Hocine M, Zalc M, Rougon G, Debarbieux F. Long-term in vivo imaging of normal and pathological mouse spinal cord with sub-cellular resolution using implanted glass windowsJ. Physiol. (2012) 590(16):3665-3675. (Corresponding author).

39.   Fenrich KK and Rose PK. Axons with Highly Branched Terminal Regions Successfully Regenerate across Spinal Midline Transections in the Adult Cat. J. Comp. Neurol. (2011) 519(16):3240-3258. (Corresponding author).

40.   Fenrich KK and Rose PK. Spinal Interneuron Axons Spontaneously Regenerate following Spinal Cord Injury in the Adult Feline. J. Neurosci. (2009) 29(39):12145-12158 (Editorial feature, Corresponding author).

41.   Fenrich KK, Skelton N, MacDermid V, Meehan CF, Armstrong S, Neuber-Hess MS, Rose PK. Axonal regeneration and development of de novo axons from distal dendrites of adult feline commissural interneurons after proximal axotomy. J. Comp. Neurol. (2007) 502(6):1079-97. (Corresponding author).

42.   Brunt KR, Fenrich KK, Kiani G, Tse MY, Pang SC, Ward CA, Melo LG. Protection of human vascular smooth muscle cells from H2O2-induced apoptosis through functional co-dependence between HO-1 and AKT. Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. (2006) 26(9): 2027-34.

43.   Fenrich K and Gordon T.  Axonal Regeneration in the Peripheral and Central Nervous Systems: Current Issues and Advances. Can. J. Neurol. Sci. (2004) 31(2): 142-156. 


Intellectual property

·       Fenrich, K.K., Fouad, K. United States Patent Application Serial No. 15/523,866. Title: Systems and methods for behavioral and task training of laboratory animals. May 2, 2017

·       Fenrich, K.K. United States Patent Application Serial No. 15/962,958. Title Light Switch Adapter. April 25, 2018.

·       Fenrich, K.K. TASKR (Training Automation Software for Kinematics and Rehabilitation). (2014) Canadian Copyright Register. Registration number 1112882.

Most Cited Publications

Li Y, Lucas-Osma AM, Black S, Bandet MV, Stephens MJ, Vavrek R, Sanelli L, Fenrich KK, Di Narzo AF, Dracheva S, Winship IR, Fouad K, Bennett DJ, "Pericytes impair capillary blood flow and motor function after chronic spinal cord injury." Nature medicine 23,6 (2017 Jun): 733-741
Fenrich KK, Weber P, Hocine M, Zalc M, Rougon G, Debarbieux F, "Long-term in vivo imaging of normal and pathological mouse spinal cord with subcellular resolution using implanted glass windows." The Journal of physiology 590,16 (2012 Aug 15): 3665-75
Brunt KR, Fenrich KK, Kiani G, Tse MY, Pang SC, Ward CA, Melo LG, "Protection of human vascular smooth muscle cells from H2O2-induced apoptosis through functional codependence between HO-1 and AKT." Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology 26,9 (2006 Sep): 2027-34