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The CEO Update is distributed three times a year and covers the latest news from RHI. If you'd like to receive this newsletter directly to your inbox, subscribe here.

Inside this Issue

Message from the CEO
Commercialization Program at RHI
Q&A with Commercialization Expert, Dr. Hunter Peckham
Commercialization Partner Spotlight: MyndTec
Praxis 2016 Session Topics Announced
RHI Joins Innovative Network of Venture Philanthropies
RHI Participates at the RESI Conference
RHI Network News

Commercialization is the process of bringing a new product or innovation to market. New innovations are being created every day, but few are able to overcome the obstacles or "valleys of death" that exist in bringing a product to market. Through the development of RHI's Commercialization Program, we hope to change that.

Our Commercialization Program focuses on facilitating increased investment into the development of innovative pre-commercial therapeutics, therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics that will benefit people living with spinal cord injury. This program is part of RHI's coordinated program strategy (along with the Cure, Care and Consumer Programs). Each program has a specific set of goals and objectives, but are all committed to accelerating our vision of a world without paralysis after spinal cord injury.

In this issue of our CEO Update, we focus on our Commercialization Program and some of the partnerships and initiatives we have created through it. Read on to learn more about commercialization partner Myndtec and their innovative FES device, MyndMove™, a Q&A with biomedical engineer and commercialization expert, Dr. Hunter Peckham, the latest updates on Praxis 2016 as well as news from RHI and our network.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the CEO Update and as always, we welcome any feedback about this newsletter. You can contact us at .

Bill Barrable
Chief Executive Officer


Commercialization Program at RHI

Our commercialization strategy is aimed at facilitating the development of innovative pre-commercial therapeutics and medical devices that will improve the lives of those living with spinal cord injury.

The program's objectives include:

  • Accelerating the commercialization process for innovative technologies that will benefit people with SCI
  • Increase investor and industry engagement and participation in SCI research and development

To learn more about our Commercialization Program, our partnerships and a roadmap detailing the program's objectives and activities over the coming years, visit http://rickhanseninstitute.org/work/programs/commercialization.

Q&A with Commercialization Expert, Dr. Hunter Peckham

In this Q&A, RHI talks to biomedical engineer and commercialization expert, Dr. Hunter Peckham about his involvement in Praxis 2016 and what some of the biggest challenges are in bringing a product or therapy to market.

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Dr. Peckham is a member of RHI's Commercialization and Praxis advisory committees.

What is your background?

I have a PhD in biomedical engineering. In a broad sense I work in rehabilitation engineering and more specifically, I work on restoring physical function in people with SCI by using and developing devices called neural prostheses.

Neural prosthesis (a type of functional electrical stimulation or FES) is a medical device, usually implanted, that uses either electrical activation or inhibition of the central nervous system to restore function. Activation can be in the form of sensation or movement, and inhibitors limit neural activity that we don't want such as pain and spasticity.

I have been working with the SCI population since 1972 and founded the Cleveland FES Center in 1991. Based in Ohio, USA, the FES Center's vision is to merge cutting edge research and creative engineering into the clinical environment to create comprehensive options for patients and their families, and the clinicians who care for them. Continue reading

Commercialization Partner Spotlight: MyndTec

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This year, RHI partnered with MyndTec, a start-up that develops and distributes innovative therapies designed to improve function, maximize independence and enhance the quality of life for stroke and spinal cord injury patients. MyndTec's first product, MyndMove™ is a non-invasive rehabilitation therapy that combines patient participation, therapist expertise, and a proprietary 8-channel Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) device to treat patients with upper-limb paralysis following stroke or spinal cord injury.

Based on a decade of scientific and clinical research conducted by Dr. Milos Popovic at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network, MyndMove™ promotes the recovery of voluntary hand and arm function. MyndMove™ is the first complete system to provide FES therapy for the full arm with the ability to execute reaching, grasping and fine motor control of the hand, such as pinching.

Healthcare payers currently reimburse use of MyndMove™ in the stroke population; with RHI's support, the company is working towards the same level of access for the SCI patient population.

Healthcare payers currently reimburse use of MyndMove™ in the stroke population; with RHI's support, the company is working towards the same level of access for the SCI patient population.

Working with RHI, MyndTec is commencing a feasibility study that will deploy MyndMove™ therapy in a small number of the leading SCI rehabilitation centres in Canada and the United States. The study will capture preliminary results with this new product in persons with SCI and generate safety and efficacy data to assist in planning a multi-centre, randomized control trial which will demonstrate the effectiveness of MyndMove™ therapy to our healthcare systems and healthcare reimbursement.

Successful completion of this feasibility study will enable the design of a larger multi-centre clinical trial. The clinical data collected in the multi-centre clinical trial will generate the data required to support healthcare payer reimbursement of MyndMove™ for the SCI population.

To learn more about MyndMove™ visit www.myndtec.com.

Praxis 2016 Session Topics Announced

Praxis2016 logoFrom April 25-27, 2016, RHI will host the international SCI community for three days focused on identifying and overcoming the barriers to translating research into outcomes for spinal cord injury.

The Praxis 2016 conference program and session format is structured to encourage attendees to actively participate in the discussions. Attending Praxis 2016 is an opportunity to participate in the development of specific recommendations to advance the field and to better understand the barriers throughout the SCI research and care ecosystem.

Session Topics:

  • Case studies from the valleys of death (clinical and commercial challenges)
  • Strategies to overcome the frequent challenges in SCI clinical trials
  • Funding and partnership models to develop and commercialize new innovations for SCI
  • Dealing with and influencing regulatory environments
  • Overcoming the policy, bureaucracy and behavioural barriers to implementation
  • Delivering new SCI innovations to consumers – reimbursement and consumer payment
  • Establishing concrete action items and next steps

Mark your calendars for April 25-27, 2016 and stay tuned for conference details and registration in fall 2015!

Learn more about the conference and advisory committee here.

RHI joins innovative network of venture philanthropies

TRAINIn May, Rick Hansen Institute became a participating organization of The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN), a program of FasterCures.

FasterCures established TRAIN in 2005 to connect disruptive innovators in the disease research space with the vital resources, tools and relationships to catalyze development of new therapies and cures. Through the network, innovation in one disease area is translated to another in order to achieve treatment breakthroughs for all.

"I am excited that RHI has been selected to become a participating organization of TRAIN," said Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute.

"At its foundation, RHI is a network of SCI researchers, clinicians, people with SCI and other relevant stakeholders. However, I believe that RHI can make more progress towards a world without paralysis after SCI if we connect to other networks in order to share best practices and exchange ideas with organizations focused on other health conditions. By joining TRAIN, we have truly become a network of networks.

Read the full news release.

RHI participates in Venture Philanthropy Panel

IMG 0176 smRHI's John Barclay speaks on the Venture Philanthropy panel at RESI.

Last June, RHI's Manager of Commercialization and Industry Relations, John Barclay, spoke on a venture philanthropy panel at Life Science Nation's Redefining Early Stage Investment (RESI) Conference in Houston, Texas.

Moderated by Bruce Bloom of Cures Within Reach, the panelists included Maya Merrell of Fast Forward, Phillip Gattone of the Epilepsy Foundation and John Barclay. The panel addressed important questions on investing for impact such as: What do venture philanthropy investors look for in initial correspondence? What goes into the process of investment selection and due diligence? What value can venture philanthropists bring to your company in addition to capital?

The panel presented to about 40 attendees and participated in lively discussion regarding the increasing role of venture philanthropy in the development of new therapeutics and medical devices and the differences from traditional funding mechanisms.

RESI brings together fundraising CEOs and early stage investors from around the globe, providing the opportunity for dialogue and relationship building, with the goal of eventual capital allocations. The RESI conference focuses on 10 categories of early stage investors. Through an expansive series of panels and workshops, investors explain their current investment mandates and process for identifying and qualifying candidates. The RESI Partnering Forum employs a Match.com-like sourcing platform that fundraising CEOs use to identify life science investors who fit their technology sector and stage of development.

Learn more about the Venture Philanthropy Panel at RESI.

RHI Network News

Recently Published:

  • What are the effects of older age on treatment decisions and outcomes among patients with traumatic SCI? The July issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal features a paper evaluating the impact of older age on treatment decisions and outcomes. The paper, entitled Effect of older age on treatment decisions and outcomes among patients with traumatic spinal cord injury, was authored by members of the national Rick Hansen SCI Registry (RHSCIR) team using data from the Registry. More people over the age of 70 are incurring spinal cord injuries given the changing population demographics. It is not clear if there are differences in management of these older patients. We found that older patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries are less likely to receive surgery compared with younger patients and they experience a significant lag between both injury and acute admission to a specialized centre, and between admission and surgery. Future work will look at differences in outcome and advise treatment guidelines. 
  • Does use of methylprednisolone steroid improve neurologic outcome following traumatic SCI? Another paper from the national RHSCIR team investigates the use of methylprednisolone (a corticosteroid) to treat individuals with acute traumatic SCI in the paper entitled Methylprednisolone for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Spinal Cord Injuries: A Propensity Score-Matched Cohort Study from a Canadian Multi-Center Spinal Cord Injury Registry published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. In a matched case-control analysis using national RHSCIR data, no evidence was found that methylprednisolone improves neurologic outcome following traumatic spinal cord injury as found in the controversial and much criticized 1990 NASCIS-II trial. This supports the downgrade of methylprednisolone as a treatment recommendation to a treatment option, and the evidence that it may increase odds of complications. 

Trainee and Postdoc Awards:

  • In partnership with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and ICORD, RHI congratulates Dr. Malihesadat Poormasjedimeibod on winning a 2015 MSFHR Trainee Award. Dr. Poormasjedimeibod's research is focused on cardiac consequences of developing Type 2 diabetes after spinal cord injury.
  • RHI also welcomes Dr. Hardeep Kataria to the RHI Network. Dr. Kataria is the winning recipient of the Research Manitoba/RHI Postdoctoral Fellowship on preclinical or clinical research in SCI.

We look forward to working with both Drs. Poormasjedimeibod and Kataria on their respective research.

Neurotrauma to Neurorecovery Network:

  • The Neurotrauma to Neurorecovery (NtoN) Chronic Disease Network is an initiative that will engage patients as equal partners to advance both SCI and traumatic brain injury care. It will address important research questions for neurorecovery through engagement of patients and all stakeholders and implement evidence-informed transformation. The project is being led by RHI network member, Dr. Mark Bayley with support from RHI and partners Rick Hansen Foundation, Brain Injury Canada, Sick Kids Hospital, the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute, MyndTec, Neurological Health Charities Canada, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Ontario Spinal Cord Injury Solutions Alliance, Spinal Cord Injury Canada, viDA Therapeautics Inc., as well as individual SCI and traumatic brain injury advocates. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) approved a letter of intent to submit a proposal around the development of the NtoN Network. The team will submit a full proposal in fall 2015.