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Advancing Spinal Cord Injury Research into Improved Outcomes: Praxis 2016

May 5, 2016 (Vancouver, BC) – Global leaders and stakeholders from across the field of spinal cord injury (SCI) convened last week at Praxis 2016, a landmark conference hosted by the Rick Hansen Institute from April 25-27 in Vancouver, B.C., to develop practical solutions for overcoming challenges to translating research into improved outcomes for individuals living with SCI.

Praxis 2016 Consumer Networking Meeting

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Praxis 2016 Opening Session Speakers: Top (L to R) Graham Creasey (Stanford School of Medicine), Eric Marcotte (CIHR), Bill Barrable (Rick Hansen Institute), Francesco Marincola (Sidra Medical and Research Centre). Bottom (L to R) Jennifer French (Neurotech Network), Rick Hansen (Rick Hansen Foundation), and Kim Anderson-Erisman (Miami Project to Cure Paralysis).

New ideas and discoveries are generated every day in the SCI field, but many do not make it through the complex research and care knowledge translation cycle. Current estimates are that only a few of the health-related discoveries are translated into practice, with an average timeframe of 17 years. Praxis 2016 did not follow a traditional scientific conference model, but rather an innovative format driven by solutions-focused action and participant engagement. Praxis 2016 gathered over 200 consumers, researchers, clinicians, and representatives of funding organizations, regulators, policy makers and industry; resulting in a diverse cohort of stakeholders that rarely have the opportunity to engage and collaborate. Through the sharing of hard-won experience and challenging small group discussions, participants agreed that a paradigm shift is required to accelerate research through two translational "Valleys of Death": from basic research to clinical research (Bench to Bedside) and from initial implementation to dissemination to the entire SCI community (Bedside to Worldwide).

An Action Committee has been struck to advance solutions to the challenges of research translation described by speakers and participants, and to share actions with SCI stakeholders. Led by Drs. Graham Creasey from Stanford School of Medicine and Catherine Truchon from Institut National d'Excellence en Santé et Services Sociaux, the committee will be supported by a secretariat at the Rick Hansen Institute.

"I hope we can all look back at this meeting as a milestone in our journey towards a world without SCI and secondary complications," said Bill Barrable, CEO of the Rick Hansen Institute. "Now that we have assembled the Action Committee, the real work begins to move the solutions into action. The true value of this meeting will only become apparent many months down the line."

A distinguishing feature of Praxis 2016 was the interactive format. The format maximized delegate collaboration, with sessions beginning with solutions-focused experts discussing their experience with overcoming challenges in translational research. Following panel discussions, participants worked in discussion groups to identify practical solutions. Table assignments enabled representation from across sectors, thereby ensuring a variety of perspectives were shared.

Hundreds of action items were identified over the two and a half-day conference and centered around four key focus areas in the translational research continuum:
•   Product development and delivery – challenges and solutions in device, drug and cellular therapies
•   Pre-clinical and clinical trials of regeneration and repair in SCI
•   Bringing knowledge into clinical practices
•   Financial viability – Uncertain markets
     Investors, industry, IP and insurance – product development and reimbursement

Participants identified strategies such as early education of researchers about commercial viability of products, new funding schemes to change policy and behaviour, and practical business models to introduce products into clinical use and commercialization as preliminary solutions. Participants also committed to take additional action through communicating, advocating, sharing, engaging and accelerating the pace of change in SCI research.

"At Praxis 2016 we paused together in our journeys, discussed past experiences, shared our stories, and came to recommendations for how we can do better," said Creasey, Conference Chair. "Now it is time for us to strike out again together, with an adventurous and collaborative spirit, and continue to press forward in improving the lives of those living with SCI".

A comprehensive Praxis 2016 report will be disseminated to conference delegates and other key stakeholders, with an anticipated distribution date of early July 2016. Peer-reviewed publications will also be produced by session output leads.

 Visit www.rickhanseninstitute.org for updates.

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Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.

For more information:

Rick Hansen Institute
Phalgun Joshi, pjoshi [at] rickhanseninstitute [dot] org, 604.827.1673

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