$1 Million Awarded to Spinal Cord Injury Research Grant Recipients in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Health

HARRISBURG, PA — Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam announced the Department of Health recently awarded $1 million in grants to six recipients focused on spinal cord injury (SCI) research.

“Spinal cord research most often focuses on the prevention of the spinal cord injury. The intent of these grants is to provide financial support to cultivate research for the functional improvement of people with spinal cord injuries,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “We look forward to the research outcomes that will provide important new insights into the nature and course of spinal cord injury and provide support and hope to Pennsylvanians impacted and their families.”

The grants are part of the department’s Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program which awards research for clinic and health services and biomedical research funded by the Tobacco Settlement funds. The grants are awarded through a Request for Application (RFA) with the intent to fund research on SCI.

The Department of Health has awarded the 2019 CURE program funds to:

  • Tatiana Bezdudnaya, PhD at Drexel University, for the study Improving Breathing with Limb Muscle Stimulation after Cervical SCI;
  • Simon Giszter, PhD at Drexel University, for the study Enhancing Regeneration Efficacy after SCI with Robot-Rehab Coupled Optogenetics;
  • Michael Lane, PhD at Drexel University, for the study Respiratory Training Promotes Plasticity & Recovery after SCI;
  • Liang Qiang, MD PhD at Drexel University, for the study Gene Therapy via Spastin Overexpression to Promote Axon Regrowth for SCI Repair;
  • Shaoping Hou, PhD at Drexel University, for the study Rebuilding Supraspinal Regulation to Restore Voluntary Micturition Reflex; and
  • Ying Jin, PhD at Drexel University, for the study Glial Progenitor Grafts to Promote Regeneration and Functional Recovery after SCI.

Across the United States, there is approximately a quarter of a million residents living with SCIs. A spinal cord injury occurs when damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. This damage can often cause permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury. According to the National SCI Statistical Center, vehicle crashes are currently the leading cause of injury, closely followed by falls. Acts of violence and sports/recreation activities are also relatively common causes.

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