ONF/RHI team grants focus on improving care and treatment for those with SCI

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation in partnership with Rick Hansen Institute has funded two new team grants. These two-year grants provide researchers with $20,000 for each of the two years. Developed by the Ontario Spinal Cord Injury Network (OSCIRN) this grant initiative facilitates building teams focused spinal cord injury research and implementation projects in Ontario.

The grant opportunity was announced at the May 2017 OSCIRN meeting as the next step to build collaborative research activity in spinal cord injury along the continuum of care. The OSCIRN team-building grant aims to integrate Ontario researchers, clinicians, students and community in partnership with other provincial, national and international research teams or members of research community.

Improving the successful translation of promising animal therapies to humans through the use of viable adult human spinal cord tissue

Principal Investigator: Dr. Tuan Bui, University of Ottawa

Comment from Dr. Bui: A number of exciting approaches have been developed for improving the quality of life for those with spinal cord injury based upon animal models of spinal cord injury. However, an obstacle to validating these approaches for actual application to the treatment of those with spinal cord injury is a lack of platforms to test these approaches on human spinal cord tissue. Our group is one of the first to have developed techniques to generate viable cell cultures derived from human spinal cord tissue. With the funding from ONF/RHI, we will be able to use these cell cultures derived from human spinal cord tissue in order to properly test and validate a number of exciting new approaches discovered by our group using animal models of spinal cord injury. This is an important next step towards getting closer to providing individuals with spinal cord injury treatments that will lead to functional recovery.

Development of the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Translational Continuum Team

Principal Investigator: Dr Cathy Craven, University Health Network, Toronto

Comment from Dr. Craven: Although there is much excitement for bringing researchers and clinicians together to encourage knowledge translation, very few initiatives succeed. The spinal cord injury (SCI) Rehabilitation Translational Continuum Team (ReCon Team) was formed in January 2018 to address major gaps between knowledge produced in a laboratory setting and its clinical application. Having consensus on study methods and study outcomes is vital to advancing the field of SCI rehabilitation. The aim of the ReCon Team is to bring patients, scientists, clinicians, and students, from cellular, animal and human research programs together to work on common goals. We are committed to understanding how muscle, bone and the nervous system interact to influence the type and outcomes of rehabilitation for individuals with SCI over the course of their lifetime.