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BSCC funding groupCEO Update from Bill Barrable - April 2013

Dear friends and network partners,

I am pleased to share with you exciting news regarding long-term funding to accelerate cure-related clinical research work conducted by the partners at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver, BC.

Representatitives of the Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership from left: Dr. Howard Feldman, Executive Associate Dean of Research, UBC Faculty of Medicine, Ms. Mary Ackenhusen, Chief Operating Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health, Rick Hansen, Dr. Brian Kwon, Attending Spine Surgeon, Vancouver General Hospital, Mr. Bill Barrable, Chief Executive Officer, Rick Hansen Institute and Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff, Acting Director, ICORD.Photo courtesy of Martin Dee

The Blusson Integrated Cures Partnershipwhich brings together researchers from the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) and specialists from the Rick Hansen Institute—will receive $20 million covering a 10-year period starting immediately from the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).

This investment—which builds on other sources of funding from government and the private and corporate sectors—–will be directed to the following three goals:

  • For Blusson to become the world’s leading partnership in innovative and collaborative pre-clinical and clinical research to accelerate the discovery of spinal cord injury cures
  • To develop and promote an International Clinical Trial and Research Network that will enable international collaboration in promising clinical trials and research efforts
  • To inform, empower and involve people with SCI to be champions and active participants in creating a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury.

These goals will help us reach our desired outcomes of more validated treatments and cures for people with SCI in the pipeline, more international collaborations resulting in more SCI related trials globally, and more opportunities for people with both chronic and acute SCI to participate in clinical trials.

Funding for this partnership will further enhance the collaborative spirit between ICORD and RHI, and will go towards ICORD programs to pay for core technical staff and seed grants for innovative research towards cures for spinal cord injury and, in addition, new funds are earmarked for neuro-restorative-related activities at ICORD. RHI, meanwhile, will be funded to assist in the development of an International Clinical Trials and Research Network and help develop increased opportunities for people with SCI to participate in clinical trials related to chronic and acute SCI when promising pre-clinical treatment strategies are ready to be translated to clinical trials.

The Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership could not have happened without the leadership, desire for and commitment to social change from Rick Hansen and the Rick Hansen Foundation. With this support from Rick, RHF and so many others who share in our vision, a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury is possible within our lifetime.


The ongoing quest for cures

GlobalBC_vid_BSCCWatch this clip from GlobalBC News Hours about the announcement.

“We fundamentally believe that investing now to find a cure for those living with spinal cord injuries will have the widest and longest-lasting impact,” Rick Hansen told a crowd of more than 100 individuals on 12 April in making the announcement.

“Our goal for the Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership is to build its position as the world’s leading partnership in innovative and collaborative pre-clinical and clinical research to accelerate the discovery of SCI cures. Canada has a unique opportunity to be the site for more clinical trials, because of our healthcare system, the quality, depth and breadth of our researchers, and the collaborative network and infrastructure we and others have helped build over the years.”

The collaborative relationship between the multiple entities will leverage the existing strengths of each organization to identify new and innovative treatments towards cures for SCI, and investigating the application of existing SCI treatments in other neurological disorders, injuries, and diseases, Hansen said. The funding will also work to inform, empower, and include people with SCI to be champions and active participants in efforts to create a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury.

"We look forward to increasing collaboration by engaging with people with SCI, research leaders and clinicians so that the most promising discoveries with the best chance of achieving cures will make it out of the labs and into clinical trials," noted Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff, Incoming Director of ICORD. “Then, these results will be applied to people with SCI who can benefit the most from them.”

Rick Hansen and the Foundation that bears his name have a longstanding and impressive track record of funding work to accelerate cures. Over 25 years the Rick Hansen Foundation has granted over $118 million to organizations and individuals involved in SCI research, innovation, disability and accessibility awareness.

Although much of the funding will be invested in work being done at Blusson, it will support collaboration between BC researchers and specialists and their peers around the world. More details on specific areas of focus will emerge as teams are formed over the coming months.


Innovation at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

_MG_5617A patient receives care in the Vancouver Sperm Retrieval Clinic, part of the Brenda & David McLean Integrated Spine Clinic.

World-class research infrastructure—such as the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre—is critical to the development and implementation of research and best practices to increase the effectiveness, timeliness, and quality of care of people with SCI.

A collaborative initiative led by the Rick Hansen Foundation and involving UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health, the Blusson Centre is the culmination of innovation, thought leadership, and desire for social change by Rick, his team, his partners, and his supporters. Opened in 2008, it gathers researchers, medical professionals, and patients in one place working together to discover and implement novel treatments and approaches into improved outcomes, independence and quality of life for people living with SCI and their families.

It is the first-of-its-kind facility where innovative research—International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)—and top-quality clinical care—the Brenda and David McLean Integrated Spine Clinic (administrated by Vancouver Coastal Health)—is leveraged by a national and global knowledge translation agency—the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI). The six-storey, 11,000 metre square Blusson Centre is the largest and most comprehensive interdisciplinary SCI research and care program in Canada.

The collaboration will continue to identify, validate, and accelerate the translation of novel research findings into best practices, so that more people in Canada and around the world can benefit from the leading research and clinical care conducted at the Blusson Centre.

Click here for additional media coverage

Click here to see more photos on RHI's Facebook page

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The Blusson Spinal Cord Centre is an innovation of Rick Hansen and the Rick Hansen Foundation. We would also like to thank the following funders for their generous support: Government of Canada, Stewart and Marilyn Blusson, Brenda and David McLean, Angus and Margaret Reid, Canada Foundation for Innovation, BC Knowledge Development Fund, UBC, Vancouver Coastal Health, UBC & VGH Hospital Foundation, and the Government of BC.

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