Wolfram G. Tetzlaff

Director, ICORD
Degrees / Designations 
  • M.D. (University of Essen)
  • Dr.Med. (Ruhr-University Bochum)
  • Ph.D. (University of Calgary)
Email Address 
604 675 8848
Mailing Address 
ICORD - Blusson Pavilion


Academic Appointment 
Other Areas of Research 
Cell Transplantation

Dr. Tetzlaff is currently focused on two distinct areas of research. The first focuses on early strategies that will assist in protecting against secondary damage after SCI, termed neuroprotection. After an injury, there is the possibility of a cascade effect, which involves a chain of secondary injuries. Neuroprotective strategies would work to mitigate further injury by preventing cascade effects. To this end, he is studying dietary strategies, like the ketogenic diet and every-other-day fasting (EODF).

His second area of research is focused on repair, since you cannot protect against all injury. To re-connect with other neurons and restore function following injury, nerve fibres must grow across the lesion or injury site. Unfortunately, spinal cord cells are unable to regenerate in this way. Currently, Dr. Tetzlaff is using approaches such as gene manipulation to enhance the regenerative potential of nerve fibers. He is also working on remyelination strategies, which involves the construction of new myelin sheathes to replace those lost from the nerve fibers due to injury. In the brain and spinal cord, myelin helps neurons function more efficiently by wrapping around them and could also protect them from additional damage.

Dr. Tetzlaff is the Associate Director of ICORD and a Professor in the Departments of Zoology and Surgery at the University of British Columbia. He also holds the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Chair in Spinal Cord Research. He obtained his M.D. at the University of Essen, completed his Dr. Med. at Ruhr-University Bochum and his Ph.D. at the University of Calgary.

His ultimate vision is to combine multiple strategies to encourage nerve cells to grow and enhance recovery after SCI. Nerve fibres lose their myelin sheaths after an injury and Dr. Tetzlaff’s lab is working to determine whether what they see in their models can be translated to clinical practice.

In Dr. Tetzlaff’s opinion, the greatest thing about working at a centre like ICORD is the ability to collaborate in discussion and dialogue amongst diverse groups all working on the same issues, but from different perspectives. Being able to have frank, open discussions, even disagreements, allows a much greater understanding of the challenges faced by everyone and leads to new innovative solutions.

Recently, while digging through his closet, Wolfram came across a t-shirt supporting the organization Wings for Life (WFL), a spinal cord research foundation, and decided to wear it, as he hadn’t in over a year. Less than two hours after donning the shirt, he found out that a grant proposal he had submitted to WFL had been successful. Wolfram is currently searching for as many granting agency t-shirts as possible.