Queen's University scientist wins top national award for spinal cord research

TORONTO, May 21, 2013 /CNW/ - A scientist from Queen's University has received the 2012 Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research, an annual prize supported through a partnership between the Barbara Turnbull Foundation for Spinal Cord Research, Brain Canada, and the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.

Dr. Stephen Scott, a Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen's University, received this honour in recognition of his outstanding research focused on helping Canadians who suffer the effects of spinal cord trauma and stroke.

"Our Government is committed to advancing research that helps improve the health and quality of life of Canadians living with spinal cord injury," says the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport). "I offer my sincere congratulations to Dr. Scott and encourage him in his efforts to translate research findings into better treatment and health outcomes."

"I am honoured and pleased to receive this prestigious award," says Dr. Scott. "It will help me provide a better understanding of how we control our movements so that we can ultimately improve mobility for people who have spinal cord injuries."

Dr. Scott and his research team focus on how feedback to the primary motor cortex, which is a key region in the brain for voluntary control, interacts with spinal activity. This will enable them to understand how sensory feedback from the limb (and vision) is essential while performing voluntary motor skills, such as reaching and grasping a cup or other objects in the world. This knowledge will also bring insights into the impact of neurological disorders, such as stroke, on brain function and motor performance.

"I am thrilled that the award is going to Dr. Scott this year," said Barbara Turnbull, Chair and President of the Barbara Turnbull Foundation. "His research is focused on an essential piece of the spinal cord puzzle being worked on by many scientists around the world."

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 support research and raise awareness of the more than 86,000 Canadians who are living with a spinal cord injury, with 4,300 new cases each year. The prize is presented annually to the researcher who scores the highest ranking in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grants competition for research in the field of spinal cord injuries. This award is for $50,000.

This long-standing award is an important recognition of the accomplishments and outstanding individuals in the field and we are proud to count Dr. Scott among the awardees," says Inez Jabalpurwala, President and CEO of Brain Canada.

"CIHR understands the necessity to partner with other organizations so that we can combine our knowledge of the brain and invest in Canada's best spinal cord injury researchers," says Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.

Brain Canada is a national, charitable organization with the goal of funding research aimed at unlocking the mystery of the brain in order to develop diagnostics, treatments and ultimately cures for brain disorders.  It raises funds from private sources and partners with other organizations that share a commitment to advancing brain research.

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.

SOURCE: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information:

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

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