Em Abbott

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Duke KURe Program

Website: Institutional Profile

Dr. Abbott is a preclinical scientist whose interdisciplinary career has bridged engineering and physiology throughout her training. At UC Irvine she completed her PhD in 2017 with a dissertation that added tendon mechanics to the traditional study of muscle physiology. This research opened questions about sensory feedback which Dr. Abbott pursued as a postdoctoral associate in the Physiology of Wearable Robotics (PoWeR) Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology. There, Dr. Abbott measured how muscle stiffness affects mechanoreceptor response with novel electrophysiology experiments. To expand her electrophysiology skillset, Dr. Abbott joined the Lemay Lab at Temple University and investigated how to re-engage locomotor centers after spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury nearly always elicits neurogenic bladder for which there are few effective treatments. One promising therapy is neuromodulation which is studied extensively in the Grill Lab at Duke University. In 2022, Dr. Abbott joined the Grill Lab to lead a spinal cord injury study that applies high-frequency spinal cord stimulation to restore bladder function. Effective bladder function relies on appropriate compliance of the detrusor muscle. As a KURe scholar, Dr. Abbott is excited to investigate how compliance of the neurogenic bladder may limit or enhance neuromodulation. This research aims to develop a mechanistic framework that will guide development of individualized diagnostics and treatments to improve the lives of people living with neurogenic bladder.