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Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership

Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership

BICP support

Advancing research and improving the kind and quality of care available are key ingredients in improving outcomes and health of people living with spinal cord injury (SCI). Both are essential for strengthening individuals, families, caregivers and communities, for reducing the high cost of SCI to society as a whole, and for achieving scientific breakthroughs that hold the promise of better lives.

The Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership (BICP), a collaboration between ICORD and the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI), was established to do just this. In April 2013, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF), a leader in accessibility and awareness, committed $20-million over ten years to support researchers and clinicians at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre to accelerate preclinical and clinical research in SCI. This funding is aimed at strengthening the partnership between RHI and ICORD, and leveraging their existing strengths for greater impact.

The purpose of the BICP partnership is to:

  • become the world’s leading partnership in innovative and collaborative preclinical and clinical research to accelerate the discovery of SCI cures;
  • develop and promote an International Clinical Trial and Research Network that will enable international collaboration in promising clinical trials and research efforts; and
  • inform and empower people with SCI so that they can become champions and active participants in creating a world without paralysis after SCI.

BICP Areas of Focus

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Translational Research

Translational Research is research that makes its way from the laboratory to the clinic. In this area ICORD is leading the SCI Translational Research Platform, which is a program designed to identify treatments at the preclinical stage that have the best chances of succeeding in human clinical trials. This may mean discovering a new therapy or validating an existing treatment for application in SCI. Another program is Canada’s first international SCI biobank, which will store tissue samples, blood samples, and spinal cord fluid. Using the biobank, researchers hope to identify the different biological mechanisms at work in different types of injuries, which could guide clinicians to use the best treatment for the circumstance. For example, an appropriate therapy for a bruised spinal cord may not be correct for a dislocated spinal column.

These efforts are to ensure that the science being done in the lab has the best chance to benefit the doctors and patients working to optimize outcomes.

BICP Best + Brightest

Best and Brightest

The BICP operates with the knowledge that people are one of the most valuable resources in discovering effective treatments for SCI. The Best and Brightest is a strategy to support the development of talent and novel ideas in SCI research. The resources from this strategy are used to recruit new faculty, provide seed grants for creative research projects, and give awards for travel and research, with a focus on students and early-career investigators. The Best and Brightest strategy also supports ICORD’s Annual Research Meeting and Trainee Symposium, both of which bring international investigators from a wide variety of disciplines to Vancouver to discuss and work together on SCI research.

This strategy gives promising researchers the ability to work within a lively and supportive environment designed to bring out the best of their talents while they focus on a common goal.

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Informatics is the science of the interaction between humans and information. RHI uses informatics to compile a robust source of data on individuals with SCI, providing data infrastructure for clinical trials and the potential to validate best practices. Such datasets become increasingly useful as more patients are included, as researchers can monitor the progress of patients from the emergency room back into the community. To date, RHI has developed two information resources: the Global Research Platform (GRP) and CliniQuick, a tablet-based system for clinical data collection. The BICP provides support to SCI researchers, including the use of these tools, which have been of particular benefit for ICORD investigators.

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Network Development

Network development enables both RHI and ICORD to extend their reach beyond Western Canada and to incorporate global knowledge into their work. Conferences are important opportunities for members of the research and stakeholder community to come together to learn, share and generate new ideas, establish relationships, and build a foundation for future collaborations. In pursuit of these goals, the two organizations host, sponsor, and actively participate in conferences worldwide with the support of the BICP. RHI hosted Praxis 2016 in Vancouver from April 25 to 27 – a landmark international conference to develop practical solutions for overcoming challenges to translating research into improved outcomes for individuals living with SCI.

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Consumer Engagement

From identifying priorities to participating in studies and validating findings, people with SCI and their friends, families, and caregivers are critical to ensuring that research moves forward. Consumer engagement in research is an emerging field that is developing rapidly with funders, research organizations, and health care providers recognizing that engaging consumers in their work improves outcomes.

In support of this need, RHI is fostering partnerships and implementing activities to provide information and tools to SCI consumers that empower them to make informed decisions about their health, improve research outcomes, and reduce the severity of SCI secondary health complications. One initiative in development is the Go-To Resource (GTR) – an evidence-based resource, providing up-to-date information about treatments to consumers. The Spinal Cord Injury Research Evidence (SCIRE) team is developing content for the GTR. The SCIRE team adopted a participatory research method, which involved SCI consumers to ensure that the final product provides the kind of information that is relevant to them and in formats that are accessible, comprehensible, and useful.

Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

ICORD and RHI work together within the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (BSCC), a fully accessible, purpose-built SCI research and care state-of-the-art facility which opened on the Vancouver General Hospital Campus in 2008. The BSCC was created from the vision of Rick Hansen, named in recognition of the generous support from Stewart and Marilyn Blusson, and co-funded by the Rick Hansen Foundation and federal and provincial governments. The BSCC brings together over 300 specialists who collaborate to discover and implement novel treatments and approaches into improved outcomes, independence and quality of life for people living with SCI.

Blusson LG


Our Partnerships

The Rick Hansen Institute serves as a catalyst for collaboration among spinal cord injury researchers, clinicians, and individuals with SCI across Canada.

To accelerate progress in SCI research and care, there is an urgent need to harness the promise and potential of collaboration, here in Canada and around the world. Greater collaboration helps cement existing partnerships and helps develop new ones. It also enables us to identify and validate the most promising discoveries, and accelerate the translation of those discoveries into clinical practice.

Here are a few examples of our current partnerships:

> Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership (BICP)
In April 2013, the Rick Hansen Foundation announced a grant of $20 million over ten years to support researchers and clinicians at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre (home to ICORD and RHI) to accelerate preclinical and clinical research in spinal cord injury. This funding is aimed at strengthening the partnership between the Rick Hansen Institute and ICORD. The goal of the Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership is to become a world leader in innovative and collaborative pre-clinical and clinical research to accelerate the discovery of SCI cures.  Learn more about ICORD.

> Blusson Spinal Cord Centre Partnership (BSCCP)
In 2014, expanding upon the existing BICP collaboration, RHI, working with the Rick Hansen Foundation, ICORD, Vancouver Coastal Health, GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Medicine, formed the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre Partnership to accelerate progress in the cure of and care for spinal cord and brain injuries by collaborating proactively and with intention. Together, each partner recognizes that they can be more effective in realizing the potential and the opportunities that exist in British Columbia at this time.

> Accreditation Standards
In order to ensure that all Canadians receive the same level of care, RHI partnered with Accreditation Canada to develop comprehensive and evidence-based standards for SCI called the Acute and Rehabilitation SCI Standards of Care (SCI Standards). Accreditation Canada is the major national accrediting body for organizations across all health sectors in Canada. Learn more about the SCI Standards.

> Clinical Research Network
RHI engages with 31 facilities across Canada participating in the Rick Hansen SCI Registry. Many of these facilities also participate in other RHI-funded projects, such as the Minocycline in Acute SCI multi-centre clinical trial, the Access to Care and Timing project and the CAMPER study. See a list of participating RHSCIR facilities.

> Best & Brightest
We also work with academic and funding agencies to support up and coming SCI researchers. To date, we have worked with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, University of Ottawa and the Research Manitoba (formerly Manitoba Health Research Council) to provide funding and support for fellowship and scholar awards. Learn more about our Fellowship and Scholar Award Opportunities.

> Provincial Association
We partner with several provincial organizations on SCI research initiatives in the province. One such partnership is with the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF). Currently, members of ONF and RHI are collaborating on numerous projects and initiatives, such as the Canadian SCI Pressure Ulcer Strategy and the SCI Knowledge Mobilization Network. In addition, RHI and ONF collaborate on several SCI research and best practice implementation projects by providing funding and support to participating Ontario facilities. Learn more about ONF.

> Industry Partners
Through our Commercialization Program, we are actively developing a number of industry partnerships as companies are often the most effective vehicle for bringing a new technology to market and implementing the technology into healthcare delivery. Currently, our industry partnerships include large multi-national companies and early-stage ventures. Our current industry partners include AbbVie Corporation, Acorda Therapeutics Inc., Astellas Pharma Canada Inc., Bionik Laboratories Inc., MyndTec Inc., Self Care Catalysts Inc. and viDA Therapeutics Inc. Learn more about our Commercialization Program.

> Community Organizations
We are proud to partner with provincial SCI organizations across Canada, including SCI Canada and its federation partners. They have been key partners in our efforts to engage people with SCI and their families in research, and to help us understand how research knowledge can best benefit the lives of people with SCI. In particular, we are working with SCI Canada and Universite Laval researcher Luc Noreau to use the SCI Community Survey to work with Canadian communities to improve care for spinal cord injury. 

We often work with organizations that host events and activities to share research knowledge with people with SCI and their families, including ICORD, Spinal Cord Injury BC, the Ontario SCI Solutions Alliance, and Unite2FightParalysis’ Working2Walk conferenceLearn more about our Consumer Program.

"Globally, there is a strong appetite and desire to come together in a truly global network, and that's what we're laying the foundation for. If we're going to accelerate progress on the long journey... then we have to magnify our collective efforts." 

- Rick Hansen

International Partnerships

Outside of North America, RHI is working with several organizations in order to create a truly global network of individuals working in SCI research and treatment that will have the greatest impact on people with spinal cord injury around the world. Here are a few examples of some international organizations we are working with on multi-centre clinical trials and other research endeavours:

> China
Peking University Third Hospital (PUTH), Accreditation Canada International and RHI are working together to develop and implement best practice standards for acute and rehabilitative care for SCI in China. Implementation of these standards will ultimately ensure that the approximately 60,000 individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury China each year receive the best possible care and health outcomes. PUTH was also one of the first international sites to pilot the Rick Hansen SCI Registry. Learn more about this partnership.

> New Zealand
Participation in a global registry is seen by many as one efficient way to obtain a large enough dataset to accelerate the number of clinical trials that can be conducted and the identification and adoption of best practices. Along with China's PUTH, Christchurch New Zealand’s Burwood Spinal Unit was one of the first two international facilities to pilot the Rick Hansen SCI Registry. Learn more about these collaborations.

> Australia
Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia is the site of two RHI-based projects: the Minocycline in Acute SCI multi-centre clinical trial and the Access to Care and Timing Project. Including Australian data in both projects will provide increased access to data in order to identify treatment approaches and best practices for SCI care in Canada and Australia. Learn more about this partnership.

Additional international partners include:

Funding to AOSpine North America for the development of a set of MRI-based biomarkers in patients with acute spinal cord injury and the American Spinal Injury Association's (ASIA) InSTeP education model for SCI clinicians.

> United Kingdom
Some funding provided to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to support a study on the systematic review and meta-analysis of the Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan (BBB) score. Before novel therapeutic approaches can be tested in human SCI subjects, the safety and benefits of these interventions will need to be demonstrated in pre-clinical models. The BBB score is one of the most frequently used locomotor outcome measures in SCI contusion models in rats. To date, however, there is little understanding whether reported BBB scores in the literature truly are statistically consistent and clinically relevant.  


The Rick Hansen Institute is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization that drives innovation in spinal cord injury research and care. We strive to improve the lives of people living with SCI in Canada and around the world.



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