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CEO Update - October 2014

 Dear friends and colleagues:

In this update, I am pleased to report that RHI is making significant progress on building a global network which includes developing new partnerships and funding opportunities, launching a clinical resource website and many more updates that you will read about in this newsletter.

I’m also pleased to welcome four new members to RHI’s Board of Directors: Dr. Maria Barrados, Mr. Dean Bergeron, Mr. Ross Mason and Mr. Eric Watt – leaders in their respective fields and whom you’ll learn more about in this update.

Finally, I would like to thank Madame Marie Trudeau for her service to RHI’s Board of Directors. As one of RHI’s original founding board members, Marie provided invaluable input to the board and various committees and we are grateful for her wise guidance.

I hope you enjoy reading this fall issue of the CEO update.


Bill Barrable
Rick Hansen Institute 

Inside this Issue

 RHI Welcomes New Board Members

Collaborating with Researchers in Australia

Request for Applications: Submit by November 7

RHSCIR Launches a New Resource Website

Just Announced: Praxis 2016 Conference

Take the Survey! Barriers and Facilitators to SCI Research

RHI Researchers Receive Funding from Brain Canada

RHI Network Publications and Awards

Independent Mid-Term Review of RHI's 2013-2018 Funding Cycle


RHI Welcomes New Board Members 

BoD sqThe Rick Hansen Institute is pleased to announce it has appointed four new members to its Board of Directors. The four are international leaders who come from diverse backgrounds including a retired high-ranking Canadian public servant, a former Paralympian, a successful entrepreneur and venture philanthropist and a chartered professional accountant with extensive experience in both the financial and not-for-profit sectors.

To read a brief summary of their distinguished careers click here. 

Collaborating with Researchers in Australia

In August, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, became the first international site in RHI’s Minocycline multi-centre clinical trial on individuals with acute SCI. Minocycline is a common antibiotic used to treat acne and other bacterial infections but has also demonstrated neuroprotective properties by minimizing inflammation and secondary damage to the spinal cord immediately after injury. Led by surgeon-scientist, Dr. Steve Casha of the University of Calgary, the multi-centre trial will assess the efficacy of minocycline in improving neurological and functional outcome after acute non-penetrating traumatic SCI.

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“RHI is pleased to be able to work with colleagues at Princess Alexandra Hospital on the Minocycline clinical trial. International collaboration is vital to identify and validate the most promising discoveries and accelerate the translation of those discoveries into clinical practice.", Bill Barrable, CEO, Rick Hansen Institute

"Our partnership with Princess Alexandra Hospital will help identify the potential of minocycline to be used as a neuroprotective therapeutic treatment for individuals with traumatic spinal cord injury and therefore reduce the severity of the injury and long term costs to the health care systems here and abroad,” said Barrable.

The Minocycline study was also featured on Breakfast Television. Watch the clip here.

The Access to Care and Timing (ACT) project brings together an interdisciplinary team of health services researchers and professionals and the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business Centre for Operations Excellence to study means of improving the timeliness and quality of acute and rehabilitation care for individuals with traumatic SCI and how to improve system outcomes. In Canada, the study is currently underway in 25 acute and rehab facilities.

RHI is now working with the Princess Alexandra Hospital / Queensland University of Technology to implement the ACT project in Australia and to learn how traumatic SCI care delivery and patient flow occurs in that country. Using the ACT simulation model, RHI will work with Australian researchers to track a patient’s journey through the continuum of care (point of injury to acute care to rehab to community) and test potential policy scenarios and impacts of certain interventions on outcomes.

“We are so pleased to be working with colleagues at Princess Alexandra Hospital / Queensland University of Technology to implement the ACT project in Australia. We know that differences across health care systems do exist and that it greatly impacts the outcome of an individual’s recovery once in the hospital setting,” said Dr. Vanessa Noonan, Director of Research and Best Practice Implementation at RHI and Co-Investigator on the ACT project. “Including Australian data in the ACT project will enable us to compare health systems between Australia and Canada in order to develop best practices in both countries.” 


Request for Applications: Submit by November 7

RHI is currently seeking applications for two new funding opportunities.

The Clinical Outcome Measures Request for Applications seeks to support projects that will develop and/or validate outcome measures for clinical studies. Learn more.

The Pilot Studies – Optimizing Neurorecovery Following SCI Request for Applications seeks to support projects that will generate evidence on how specific therapies and/or technologies will improve neurological outcomes, physical function and quality of life for individuals with SCI.
The deadline for both funding competitions is November 7, 2014. Learn more.

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Recipients of Previous Funding Competitions:

 MG 3474Congratulations to the 11 recipients of its Preclinical SCI Research Towards Cures and Emerging Interventions & Innovative Technologies funding competition.  Learn more about the projects.

Congratulations to Drs. Christopher West and John Kramer – winners of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Scholar Awards. RHI partnered with MSFHR to support Dr. West's research on cardiac responses to SCI and exercise and with MSFHR and ICORD to support Dr. Kramer's research on detecting neuroplasticity after SCI. Drs. West and Kramer were also recently appointed as Principal Investigators at ICORD and Associate Professors at the University of British Columbia’s School of Kinesiology. 

RHSCIR Launches a New Resource Website

SCI2Supporting Clinical Initiatives in Spinal Cord Injury or SCI2 is a website for clinicians containing resources and tools developed by experts from across the country on topics such as skin integrity, walking mobility, respiratory function and much more. 

For clinicians, coordinators or administrators who are members of a RHSCIR facility, SCI2 also provides access to facility reports which give simple, actionable information about each of the clinical areas on the site. The reports also show how patients change over time and how they compare to patients across the country. The site includes resources to help support the integration of a new or modified practice such as clinical practice guidelines and examples of assessments. Visit SCI2 at http://sci2.rickhanseninstitute.org.

Just Announced: Praxis 2016 Conference

praxisTaking place on April 25-27, 2016 in Vancouver, BC, Praxis 2016 is an international meeting focused on identifying and overcoming barriers to translating research into outcomes for spinal cord injury.

Praxis 2016 will provide a unique opportunity for clinicians, scientists, people with SCI, community and advocacy organizations, policy makers, industry and investors to discuss collaborative approaches to bridging the translational “valleys of death” in SCI research and care. It is expected that Praxis 2016 will result in specific outputs that will advance the field forward towards meaningful outcomes for people with SCI. Stay tuned for more details on this conference in the coming months!

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surveyTake the Survey! Barriers and Facilitators to SCI Research

In partnership with international experts, RHI is currently conducting a survey among clinicians and researchers working in the field of SCI to identify the barriers and current facilitators to conducting international spinal cord injury research. Learn more or participate in the survey.

RHI Researchers Receive Funding from Brain Canada

 MG 8290Dr. Brian Kwon, Chair of RHI’s Cure Committee and ICORD/Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute researcher, recently won a $3 million Multi-Investigator Research Initiative (MIRI) grant from Brain Canada. The three-year study, “Biomarkers for Crossing the Translational Divide in Acute Spinal Cord Injury” brings together a team of world-class investigators from multiple disciplines to create a better understanding of spinal cord injury, potentially leading to advances in the treatment of paralysis. Partners in the project include those from the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, University of Alberta, the PROOF Centre of Excellence and the Translational Genomics Research Institute, ICORD, RHI and the Vancouver Foundation, in addition to a team of spine surgeons across Canada. This project will analyze samples collected through the currently RHI-funded CAMPER study and intends to use the Global Research Platform for data collection. RHI’s Dr. Vanessa Noonan is also a Co-Investigator on this project. Read the full story. 

RHI is also partnering with the University of Calgary’s Department of Clinical Neurosciences and the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation to develop the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry in Alberta.

Also funded by Brain Canada, the $900,000, three-year project is led by the University of Calgary’s Dr. Chester Ho with Dr. Vanessa Noonan as one of the Co-Investigators. The project is designed to expand on the success of RHI’s national registry by developing an Alberta-specific registry and using the Global Research Platform for data collection. Read the full story. 

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RHI Network Publications and Awards

 MG 0959An abstract led by Carol Scovil, including members of Toronto Rehabilitation’s SCI KMN team, was selected as the top poster abstract in the ‘Patient Care’ category at the 6th National Spinal Cord Injury Conference. Along with the award, Carol was invited to present the abstract at the conference and invited to submit a manuscript to the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. The abstract and publication highlights the work completed by Toronto Rehab and SCI KMN to implement best practices for pressure ulcer prevention in SCI inpatient rehabilitation.

Also in the ‘Patient Care’ category, members of the RHSCIR network received third place for their abstract on the importance of time to surgery for traumatic spinal cord injured patients which was presented by Dr. Henry Ahn of St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. The work on this project was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Neurotrauma and will be published in an open access format in the coming weeks. This work represents the largest cohort of SCI patients studied to date to help elucidate the role of early surgery after SCI, one of the most discussed topics in acute SCI management.

Coinciding with the launch of the SCI2 resource website, RHI has published the RHSCIR Special Report 2011-2013 which includes data on areas such as demographics, level and severity of injury, length of stay in acute and rehab care and social impacts post-injury such as income, marital status and employment. View the report on the SCI2 website.  


Independent Mid-Term Review of RHI’s 2013-2018 Funding Cycle: In 2013, the Government of Canada (through Western Economic Diversification Canada) renewed its funding to the Rick Hansen Institute with a $35 million, five year grant to magnify the impact of the Institute. Consistent with our funding proposal, the Institute is undertaking two independent evaluations, one at the mid-point and the second at the end of the 2013-2018 funding period. The first of these two evaluations has just begun and will be ongoing until June 2015. As the Institute continues to work towards its vision of a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury, this evaluation provides us with a unique opportunity to assess our progress to date against this exciting work. Read more.

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