Skip to Content

Zachary Graham, PhD

Research Health Science Specialist, Birmingham VA Medical Center | Affiliate Asst. Professor, Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology UAB | Associate Scientist, UAB Center for Exercise Medicine


Personal Statement

Dr. Graham is a Research Health Science Specialist at the Birmingham VAMC, Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), and affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine. His primary interests are finding efficacious interventions to protect systemic and skeletal muscle metabolic function after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Dr. Graham’s PhD training was focused on human participant exercise performance, exercise testing and exercise prescription, after which he transitioned from human-based work to pre-clinical models of SCI under Christopher Cardozo at the National Center for the Medical Consequences of SCI at the James J. Peters VAMC. His main research interests are now focused on how drug interventions and transgenic mouse models (pre-clinical) or rehabilitation efforts using robotic exoskeletons (clinical) after SCI alter the multiomic profiles of blood and skeletal muscle. Specifically, he is interested in the molecular profiles and epigenetic patterns altered by disease, and whether this information can be used to predict how an individual will respond to an intervention. Dr. Graham uses RNAseq, DNA methylation, metabolomics, protein and gene expression assays, ELISA and high-resolution oxygen consumption testing to answer the major questions in his research. The overall goal of his research is to find novel treatments that improve the health and function of individuals with SCI. His programmatic goals are directed towards exoskeleton adoption as a long-term life-style modification for more beneficial health outcomes, as well as using exoskeletons to increase community membership as technology improves.


  • BA, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  • MS, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • PhD, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • Postdoc, James J. Peters VAMC, Bronx, NY

Research Interests

  • Establishment of timelines for disruption in modes of energy production using mouse models of SCI
  • Potential roles of the atrophy-inducing myokine myostatin after SCI in preclinical models
  • Basal hypertrophic signaling with changes in mechanosensory expression in exercise meant to cause muscle damage, preclinical model of complete SCI, and descriptive studies using individuals with SCI

Recent Publications

  • Graham ZA, DeBerry J, Cardozo C, Bamman M. A 50 kdyne contusion spinal cord injury with or without the drug SS-31 was not associated with major changes in muscle mass or gene expression 14 d after injury in young male mice. Physiol Rep. 2021 Feb;9(4):e14751. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14751. PMID: 33611851; PMCID: PMC7897452.
  • Graham ZA, Liu XH, Harlow L, Pan J, Azulai D, Tawfeek HA, Wnek RD, Mattingly AJ, Bauman WA, Yarrow JF, Cardozo CP. Effects of a High-Fat Diet on Tissue Mass, Bone, and Glucose Tolerance after Chronic Complete Spinal Cord Transection in Male Mice. Neurotrauma Rep. 2020;1(1):17-31. doi: 10.1089/neur.2020.0014. eCollection 2020. PubMed PMID: 34223527; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8240892.
  • Graham ZA, Goldberger A, Azulai D, Conover C, Ye F, Bauman W, Cardozo C, Yarrow J. Contusion spinal cord injury upregulates p53 protein expression in rat soleus muscle at multiple timepoints but not key senescence cytokines. Physiological Reports. 2020 February 05; 8(3):314357 DOI: 10.14814/phy2.14357. PMID: 32036570; PMCID: PMC7002538
  • Graham ZA, Siedlik JA, Harlow L, Sahbani K, Bauman WA, Tawfeek HA, Cardozo CP. Key Glycolytic Metabolites in Paralyzed Skeletal Muscle Are Altered Seven Days after Spinal Cord Injury in Mice. J Neurotrauma. 2019 Sep 15;36(18):2722-2731. PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6727471.
  • Graham ZA, Harlow L, Bauman WA, Cardozo CP. Alterations in mitochondrial fission, fusion, and mitophagic protein expression in the gastrocnemius of mice after a sciatic nerve transection. Muscle Nerve. 2018 Oct;58(4):592-599. PubMed PMID: 30028528.
  • Complete List of Published Work:…