NextGen researcher profile: Christian Lorson

The associate vice chancellor for research and strategic initiatives has found a logical extension from his previous research to a disease that affects several million people around the world.

Dec. 8, 2021
Contact: Nathan Byrne, 

Christian Lorson wants to give hope to families who have dealt with incurable genetic diseases for generations.

His research has largely focused on spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disease that affects one in 6,000 live births. Through the NextGen Precision Health initiative, Lorson is taking his knowledge of the disease and applying it to another incurable genetic diseases like Charcot-Marie Tooth (CMT).

CMT progressively deteriorates every nerve outside of the brain and spinal cord. Even though the disease currently has no cure, Lorson said it’s primed for therapeutic intervention through precision medicine. “Like much of the research at NextGen, the goal is to develop a treatment that will be delivered to a specific person — and their specific cells,” he said.

Lorson’s colleagues say he’s the perfect person for the job.

“Christian is fantastic at making viruses to deliver therapeutic molecules,” said Michael L. Garcia, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. “One of the big conundrums of diseases that affect the nervous system, in particular, is that you're born with the mutation. If we can actually change the way the cell's DNA is working, we can make a bad gene work correctly.”

In this video:
  • Christian Lorson: Director of the spinal cord injury, disease and repair program; associate dean for research and graduate studies, College of Veterinary Medicine; associate vice chancellor for research; professor of molecular microbiology and immunology; Curators’ Distinguished Professor; principal investigator, Bond Life Sciences Center
  • Susan Ruediger: Chief executive officer, CMT Research Foundation
  • Michael L. Garcia: Associate professor of biological sciences, College of Arts and Science

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