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    Canada Research Chair

  • Kristine Cowley
  • Associate professor

    Max Rady College of Medicine
    Physiology and Pathophysiology
    Room 405 – Basic Medical Services Building
    745 Bannatyne Avenue
    University of Manitoba
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 0J9

    Phone: 204-789-3305
    Fax: 204-789-3434

Research themes 

  • Exercise capacity and health benefits of exercise after spinal cord injury
  • Function and health after spinal cord injury   
  • Integration, application and translation of this and other spinal cord injury research knowledge, so that people living with spinal cord injury can benefit.
  • Locomotor function and autonomic functions that support movement after spinal cord injury
  • Muscle and bone deterioration after spinal cord injury

Research interests 

  • Identifying means to optimize exercise responses in persons living with spinal cord injury
  • Spinal neural mechanisms generating and coordinating locomotion
  • Spinal neural mechanisms mediating autonomic support for ongoing movement (and exercise)
  • Spinal neural mechanisms providing training-related adaptations in muscle and bone after spinal cord injury


  • Bone health
  • Electrophysiology
  • Exercise and training adaptations
  • Exercise physiology
  • Muscle health
  • Neurophysiology
  • Spinal cord injury 
  • Spinal cord physiology
  • Sympathetic nervous system 

Research affiliations

  • Director and principal investigator, Spinal Cord Research Centre (SCRC)
  • Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Health and Function after Spinal Cord Injury

Research groups

  • American Spinal Injuries Association 
  • Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
  • International Spinal Cord Society 
  • Society for Neurospinal cord injuryence 

Research summary

Dr. Kristine Cowley’s research focus is to increase the health and function of people living with spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injury is a life-altering event that causes paralysis and loss of sensation and affects virtually every bodily function because of the loss of ascending and descending neural control.

It is due to the loss of these functions that lead to the all-too-common secondary consequences of obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, lower limb fracture and cardiovascular disease.

Her lab uses a variety of techniques and research models to identify strategies to reduce these secondary consequences and to improve function and life quality after injury. The lab uses pre-clinical and clinical research models and techniques.

Pre-clinical research techniques include electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry and fluorescence microscopy, western blot protein analysis and micro-computed tomography.

Human research techniques include kinematics, electromyography and electrical stimulation techniques, biomechanics, exercise physiological techniques and ergonomics.


Dr. Kristine Cowley is an associate professor in the physiology and pathophysiology department in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Max Rady College of Medicine.

She holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Health and Function after Spinal Cord Injury.

Dr. Cowley received her PhD from UM, investigating the neural control of movement.

By investigating the neural mechanisms within the spinal cord that contribute to movement and posture, she hopes to improve functional performance after neurological injury.

Her research program also seeks to identify strategies to reduce the musculoskeletal decline and costly secondary pathologies that are common after spinal cord injury, such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Investigations are carried out in animal research models as well as in the population of those living with spinal cord injury. Support from the Canada Research Chairs program, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Research Manitoba and the Manitoba Spinal Cord Research Committee enables this research.


  • PhD (physiology, neurosciences), University of Manitoba (1998)
  • Bachelor of science (biology), University of Winnipeg (1990)


  • Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Health and Function after Spinal Cord Injury (2020–2025)
  • Manitoba Medical Students’ Association 2014-2015 Academic Year Teaching Award Nominee for Med I Award: Mentorship, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba (2014-2015)
  • Rick Hansen Difference Maker Award (2014)
  • Will to Win Professorship (2012–2017)


Learn more

Contact us

Physiology and Pathophysiology
432 Basic Medical Sciences Building
745 Bannatyne Avenue
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9 Canada