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Praxis 2016: Overview of a conference focused on making a difference

Prax-is/’praksəs/ n. The process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realized 

It is estimated that only 14% of health-related scientific discoveries enter into medical practice and that it takes an average of 17 years for them to do so1. Even when knowledge is successfully translated, its use is inconsistent.  In order to be successful, two major ‘Valleys of Death’ must be overcome:

  1. Bench to bedside: a discovery made in a laboratory must be proven and translated into therapies, cures and treatments that directly impact SCI patients and their families
  2. Bedside to worldwide: a new therapy, cure or product must be ‘spread’ and available to the entire SCI population.

In response to these ‘Valleys of Death’, RHI developed Praxis, a solutions-focused model to help overcome obstacles in SCI research in order to achieve improved health outcomes for people with SCI and decrease the financial impact on the healthcare system. RHI has identified several strategies to support this model, including Praxis 2016. RHI is pleased to host this international conference which will unite stakeholders from across the SCI continuum and beyond. This includes representatives from a broad range of organizations and interest areas such as, but not limited to:

  • Industry: Acorda Therapeutics, Asterias Biotherapeutics, Coloplast, DP Clinical, Novoron Bioscience Inc., Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • Academic: Hotchkiss Brain Institute, ICORD, Singapore University, Stanford University, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
  • Clinical: GF Strong Rehab Centre, Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • SCI Consumers Associations: Spinal Cord Injury BC, Spinal Cord Injury Canada, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, Unite 2 Fight Paralysis
  • Professional: AO Foundation, Canadian Spine Society
  • Funding: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Craig H. Neilson Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Michael Smith Foundation of Health Research, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Opening Session on Day One of the conference will welcome participants to Praxis 2016, and set the tone for the subsequent two days through opening plenary talks from these four passionate individuals:

rick hansen squareRick Hansen, C.C., O.B.C.
CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation
Celebrated Paralympic athlete, Man in Motion, disabilities advocate

Francesco Marincola squareFrancesco Marincola, MD, FACS
Chief Research Officer, Sidra Medical and Research Center
Translational research expert, author of more than 600 peer-reviewed articles

JenFrench squareJennifer French, MBA
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Neurotech Network
First woman to receive teh Implantable Stand & Transfer System, Paralympic athlete

kim anderson squareKim Anderson-Erisman, PhD
Director of Education, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Translational research expert, SCI Hall of Fame inductee 

The plenary talks will be followed by a Welcome Reception which will allow participants the chance to browse posters and speak to presenting authors about their work. Over 40 posters were selected from submissions resulting from our Call for Abstracts earlier this year – the accepted abstracts may be viewed here.

Leveraging the inspirational orientation of Day One, the next two days of the conference will be focused on harnessing the delegates’ diverse perspectives for the development of recommendations aimed at accelerating research translation and commercialization. This will be achieved through interactive panel and working sessions designed and facilitated by premier process experts, Stratchan Tomlinson. Collaboration across the delegate cohort will be vital to the success of the conference, so seats are limited to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. An article detailing the conference model is available here.

Networking opportunities will be provided throughout the conference proceedings, including during session breaks and evening events. During the Tuesday evening reception, RHI is pleased to feature live music performed by the Vancouver Adapted Music Society.

As part of this conference initiative, RHI will work with a pan-Canadian team of knowledge translation experts to evaluate the conference and its role in moving knowledge to action.

In the days immediately following Praxis 2016, a briefing note summarizing the event will be created, with a final conference report available in June. Appointed conference output leads will oversee the fulfillment of any post-event activities identified through the conference process, including possible published proceedings.

RHI is excited to see how the conference comes together, and looks forward to joining our peers and colleagues at Praxis 2016, so together we can champion change in SCI research and care!

  1. Westfall JM, Mold J, Fagnan L. Practice-based research – “Blue Highways” on the NIH roadmap. JAMA. 2007;297(4):403–406.