First Recipients of CPN Challenge Grants Announced
In time to mark Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month this past September, Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN), announced the winners of Stage I, Round I of its 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, CPN is awarding 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.
CPN's Scientific Advisory Council selected this round's grant recipients from a pool of 100 applicants, representing 80 institutions and more than 25 countries. Grants were awarded in 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.
Nader Ghasemlou (Queen's University in Ontario, Canada)
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.
Warren Alilain (MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine)
Anna Leonard (The University of Alabama at Birmingham and 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.
Volker Dietz (Spinal Cord Injury Center)
Keith Fenrich (University of Alberta)
Incentivizes the cross-over of adjacent neurological research to the field of SCI.
Candace Floyd (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Ela Plow (Cleveland Clinic)
Awards projects that aim to translate research from animal experiments toward human clinical trials.
John Simeral (Brown University, Department of Veterans Affairs and Massachusetts General Hospital)
Charles Tator (University of Toronto and Krembil Discovery Center)
Out of the Box Award
Provides initial funding for high-risk, high-potential research ideas.
Raymond Grill(University of Mississippi Medical Center)
Alexander Rabchevsky(Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research, Center University of Kentucky)
The CPN Challenge program, developed in conjunction with a world-renowned team of researchers and scientists and divided into three stages of increasing difficulty, plans to potentially award nearly $20 million dollars in grants and prizes over the next 10 years. The first team that can reach unprecedented improvement in every day functions of people living with chronic SCI (as defined by the CPN Challenge guidelines) will win the $10 million Grand Prize.
Today only Stage 1 has been officially announced. When announced, Stage II will serve as a "stepping stone" between the initial research of Stage I and the robust demonstration of functional recovery in Stage III. It will set significant milestone prizes for translating basic science into animal and human application. A total of four prizes will be awarded, two prizes of $500,000 in the animal category and two prizes of $500,000 in the human category. Finally, the first individual or consortium to show functional recovery in at least two functions of SCI patients within 10 years will receive the $10 million prize in Stage III. CPN's goal is to announce these stages as quickly as possible.
"The current climate is such that researchers are often unlikely to get funding unless their idea shows great promise and precedent. Researchers, as a result, often take a more conservative approach to their work," said Hunter Peckham, scientific advisor to Conquer Paralysis Now and Donnell Institute Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedics, Institute for Functional Restoration at Case Western Reserve University. "CPN is transforming the funding landscape and encouraging researchers to take risks, helping us accelerate progress toward finding a cure."