The First Step to Finding a Cure: The CPN Challenge
Recognizing the devastating effects of a spinal cord injuries, the United States Senate has marked September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. This month and beyond, Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN), a leading authority on spinal cord injury (SCI) research, continues its ongoing fight to find a cure for paralysis. Today, we announce the winners of Stage I, Round I of our inaugural Conquer Paralysis Now Challenge. With many novel ideas never getting off the ground due to a lack of initial data needed to win traditional research grants, we have awarded 10 individuals with $50,000 each, and two teams $100,000 each for their unconventional, disruptive approaches.
The CPN Challenge was launched to find a cure for paralysis by driving the development of treatments for spinal cord injuries to help patients regain such everyday functions as standing, reaching and grasping, and bowel and bladder control. Grants were awarded in the following six categories:
- New Investigator Award – Honors newly hired researchers that began their career in SCI research after their graduate studies or established researchers who recently switched to the SCI field. Recipients: Nader Ghasemlou (Queen’s University) and Tatiana Bezdudnaya (Drexel University)
- The Lone Star Foundation Collaboration Award – Funds inter-disciplinary collaborations, with at least two labs in two different fields collaborating on the project. Recipients: Warren Alilain (MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine) and Anna Leonard (The University of Alabama at Birmingham & The University of Adelaide)
- Michael Fux Foundation Reaching & Grasping Award – Recognizes projects that drive progress towards restoring reaching and grasping function for human SCI patients. Recipients: Volker Dietz (Spinal Cord Injury Center) and Keith Fenrich (University of Alberta)
- Cross Over Award – Incentivizes the cross-over of adjacent neurological research to the field of SCI. Recipients: Candace Floyd (University of Alabama at Birmingham) and Ela Plow (Cleveland Clinic)
- Translation Award – Awards projects that aim to translate research from animal experiments toward human clinical trials. Recipients: John Simeral (Brown University, Department of Veterans Affairs and Massachusetts General Hospital) and Charles Tator (University of Toronto and Krembil Discovery Center)
- Out of the Box – Provides initial funding for high-risk, high-potential research ideas. Recipients: Raymond Grill (University of Mississippi Medical Center) and Alexander Rabchevsky (Spinal Cord & Brain Injury Research Center University of Kentucky)
In addition to the Stage I Round I recipients, CPN has also announced a “Trial & Error Prize” as part of the Challenge, incentivizing scientists from around the world to share both their successes and failures. With researchers openly sharing failures, the risk of duplicating unsuccessful efforts will be diminished, driving progress in SCI treatment even faster. The first winner of this prize is Vance Lemmon, who was awarded the grant for his paper outlining proposed reporting standards for spinal cord injury experiments.
CPN is motivated by the singular goal of finding a cure for paralysis that is restoring important functions for those living with SCI. We believe we can meet this objective, within the next decade, through the innovative concepts and research fostered by the CPN Challenge.
Stay tuned as we share more details on these innovative and promising studies in the coming weeks.