Partnership set to help find spinal cord cure

The Rick Hansen Institute has joined with seven Canadian organizations to create the Canadian Neurotrauma Research Program (CNRP) to fund brain and spinal cord injury research.

The partnership of national, provincial philanthropic, public and consumer organizations -- the first of its kind in Canada -- was announced by Allan Rock, federal Health minister, during a recent visit to UBC.

The aim of CNRP is to encourage the exchange of ideas and to integrate advances in basic, focused and applied neurotrauma research science.

"Neurotrauma is a life-shattering event," says Rick Hansen, president and chief executive officer of the Rick Hansen Institute, based at UBC. "This partnership will help translate promising research into therapeutic advances and clinical trials. Our goal is to see people recover from spinal cord injuries."

The partners in the one-year program have committed more than $2 million to fund research aimed at finding cures for neurotrauma injuries.

Research grants will be awarded to five to eight projects of up to three years' duration. Operating grants will be distributed Oct. 1.

CNRP will also fund five to 11 fellowships lasting up to three years to support training in the field.

Research activities fall into three broad categories: basic research to encourage scientific investigation related to problems created by trauma to the brain and spinal cord; focused research directed toward an understanding of the consequences of neurotrauma; and applied research aimed at translating research into pre-clinical and clinical investigations.

Every day in Canada, an estimated 112 people sustain a brain or spinal cord injury, usually the result of motor vehicle accidents and falls.

Total annual direct health-care costs to support new injury victims are estimated at almost $940 million, according to information compiled by the Rick Hansen Institute.

About 185,000 Canadians, mostly men under the age of 35 years, live with neurotrauma injuries.

Partners in CNRP are the Rick Hansen Institute; the NeuroScience Canada Foundation which fosters advances in neuroscience research; NeuroPartners Canada which funds collaborative, application-focused research; the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation; the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation; the Manitoba Neurotrauma Initiative; the British Columbia Neurotrauma Initiative; and the federal government through the Medical Research Council of Canada.