Alberta professor wins top national award for spinal cord research

TORONTO, Nov. 24, 2011 /CNW/ - A researcher from the University of Alberta, Dr. Simon Gosgnach, has earned the 2011 Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research. The prize is presented annually to the spinal cord researcher who scores the highest ranking in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grants competition, for research in the field of spinal cord injuries. This year's announcement, which took place during the Charles H. Tator - Barbara Turnbull Lectureship Series in Spinal Cord Injury in Toronto, marks the 10th anniversary of the Barbara Turnbull Award. The award is administered through a successful partnership among the Barbara Turnbull Foundation, the NeuroScience Canada Foundation, and the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.

"I'm delighted and honoured to accept this prestigious award," said Dr. Gosgnach, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Alberta. "As a society, it's imperative to invest in research if we hope to improve our understanding of mobility to develop new treatments for spinal cord injury."

Dr. Gosgnach, a 2007 CIHR's new investigator awardee in this field analyses the structure and function of neural networks to learn how the nervous system produces essential behaviors such as breathing, swallowing, chewing, and walking. His laboratory focuses on signaling neurons in the spine to determine how the neural networks involved in movement are activated. These studies will help us to understand how these circuits may help to devise therapies aimed at enhancing functional recovery of movement after spinal cord injury.

"It means a great deal to me to support basic research, which is still necessary before scientists find that magic combination which will impact chronic spinal injuries," said Barbara Turnbull, Chair and President of the Barbara Turnbull Foundation. "I have deep respect for the dedication researchers like Dr. Gosgnach exhibit year after year."

Barbara Turnbull is a well known Toronto journalist and research activist who was shot and paralyzed from the neck down during a convenience store robbery when she was 18.

The Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research was established in 2001 to raise awareness of the more than four million Canadians who are afflicted with neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. This award is for $50,000.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

* Visit the CIHR YouTube channel to view a video on Spinal Cord Injury.

Ce document est également disponible en français.

SOURCE Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information:

CIHR Media Relations, 613-941-4563, mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca


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