When was the Spinal Cord Research Centre established?
The Spinal Cord Research Centre (SCRC) of Winnipeg was established as a partnership between
the University of Manitoba, the Health Sciences Centre Research Foundation (now Health
Sciences Centre Foundation) and the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Manitoba in 1987. The
SCRC was in essence formal recognition of a successful effort by Dr. Larry Jordan, a leader in
the neurophysiology of locomotion in the Department of Physiology, to assemble a highly
interactive team of biomedical scientists with a common interest in spinal cord injury.
The SCRC was reviewed and approved by the Faculty of Medicine Research Committee, and its
formation was announced on the occasion of Rick Hansen's stop in Winnipeg on January 21,
1987 during his Man in Motion World Tour to raise funds for spinal cord research. The SCRC
was given formal status as a research centre in the Faculty of Medicine in 2003 by the University
of Manitoba Board of Governors.
Why was the SCRC established?
The SCRC was established to develop a spinal cord training program within the Department of
Physiology and assist in the recruitment and retention of new clinical and basic science faculty
and retention of their laboratories in the Faculty of Medicine.
Over the past few years the SCRC has expanded its research outside the confines of the
Department of Physiology & Pathophysiology to include the Section of Rehabilitation Medicine,
Internal Medicine, Neurology, Kinesiology and Recreation Management, as well as the
Regenerative Medicine Program. Presently the SCRC consists of ten core laboratories (Drs.
Cowley, Eftekharpour, Fedirchuk, Gardiner, Jordan, Karimi, McCrea, Nagy, Schmidt and
Stecina), eight laboratories housed in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology and
two core laboratories (Drs. Eftekharpour and Karimi) located in Regenerative Medicine. All are
dedicated exclusively to spinal cord research. These core investigators are joined by 12 affiliated
researchers from six Departments or Schools at the University of Manitoba and over sixty
research associates, post-doctoral fellows, students and support staff.
Its current Director is Dr. Phillip Gardiner of the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology.
Previously the Centre was directed by Dr. David McCrea (2003-2016), Dr. Larry Jordan (1997-2003) and co-directed by Dr.
Jordan and Dr Hyman Dubo of the Section of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Internal
The mission of the Spinal Cord Research Centre of Winnipeg is to provide an environment for
world-class spinal cord research and training. We are leaders in the field of locomotor control and
our research is focused on understanding spinal cord physiology from membrane properties to
systems physiology, neuronal networks and regeneration. This unified effort towards understanding
the cellular basis of spinal motor control is unique both nationally and internationally. We believe
that these approaches are complimentary and essential to other efforts to regenerate central neurons
and restore function in man.
Restoration of function in persons with spinal cord lesions will require significant progress on two
broad fronts. One is the need to regenerate neurons to bridge connections severed by the injury or
compromised by disease. The other and equally important aspect is knowing what to reconnect, i.e.
the spinal targets of descending systems, and how to allow patients to take full advantage of the
considerable functional capabilities that already exist in the spinal cord.
The SCRC uses a broad range of molecular, cellular and systems approaches in in vitro and in vivo
experiments to identify key elements of spinal cord systems, their control from the brain and to
restore function following spinal cord injury.
identify the spinal neurons crucial for limb motor control (movement) and to understand the role
that changes in the cellular properties of spinal neurons play in states of altered motor activity. We
strongly believe that the restoration of function following injury requires a deep understanding of
the function and organization of the uninjured spinal cord motor system.
expand our research area into spinal cord development and regeneration, and to take research
developments into the clinic.
employ a unique combination of in vivo whole animal, isolated in vitro spinal cord, isolated in vitro brainstem spinal cord and spinal cord slice preparations, as well as transgenic mouse models
to study spinal and descending motor systems.
implement a database of electrophysiological data obtained from animal experiments over many
years from local as well as international researchers.
See our areas of expertise for more information on the principal investigators' research at the Centre.
We also invite you to browse through various articles written about us.
We will update and expand this section with a lot more information soon.
1) To promote research interactions within the spinal cord
group and the larger neuroscience community. This is achieved through:
(a) weekly seminar and journal club meetings,
(b) a visiting scientist program, and
(c) events to promote public awareness of neuroscience research.
2) To provide a spinal cord training program which includes the training of graduates
students within projects spanning more than one laboratory and with extensive
co-supervision. In addition, courses have been developed specifically for the
Dr. McCrea has developed two electronics instrumentation courses tailored
to the needs of spinal cord investigators. These courses are also attended by
visiting scientists and post doctoral fellows.
3) The maintenance of core technical facilities including software development
and electronic equipment design and manufacture.
The software for the analysis of electrophysiology data, which was
developed by SCRC staff (used in 7 labs), has been a small source of income
from sale of this software to investigators in other institutions. Therefore,
software upgrade and maintenance is an ongoing function with broader implications.
Since 1987, the SCRC and its members have grown to become recognized as a leading international
research centre of excellence in the field of spinal cord research, comparable to leading international
The SCRC has attracted and established leading investigators in spinal cord research to the
University of Manitoba.
See our areas of expertise for more information on the principal investigators' research at the Centre.
We facilitate obtaining new funding opportunities to the University. The SCRC core
members currently hold grants from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR),
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada (NSERC), Tier I Canada Research Chair (CRC), Canadian Paraplegia Association
MB (CPA) and Manitoba Medical Service Foundation (MMSF).
The SCRC is a multi-laboratory, multi-disciplinary research training environment. The scope
of spinal cord research at the University of Manitoba involves members of Rehabilitation
Medicine, Neurology, Physiology, Physical Education, Neurodegenerative disorders and
Centre recognition in 2003 by the University of Manitoba. The Spinal Cord Research Centre
is one of only a handful of full-scale spinal cord research centres in the world. It includes
clinician-scientists in neurology, neurosurgery, pathology, and medical rehabilitation, as well
as basic scientists in essential related fields. It holds a unique place among these international
centres, because it includes a high proportion of both clinicians and basic scientists who are
making contributions to the core knowledge required for restoration of function after injury.
On April 27-28, 2004 the SCRC hosted and the Manitoba Paraplegia Foundation sponsored
($14,000 awarded to the SCRC from the Will-to-Win Golf Classic) the Will-to-Win
Symposium entitled "Recovering Function Following Spinal Cord Injury: Basic Science
Contributions." This symposium included public lectures and researcher presentations by
local and invited Canadian and American scientists highlighting progress in the
rehabilitation and treatment of spinal cord injury and honored the significant contribution of
the Will to Win Classic to spinal cord research in Winnipeg. It was attended by patients with
spinal cord injuries and their families, including a large representation from the membership
of the Canadian Paraplegic Association, Manitoba Division, as well as local physicians,
nurses and physiotherapists who are front-line workers in the treatment of spinal cord injury.
On May 13-14, 2013 the SCRC hosted a two day Will to Win Spinal Cord Research
Symposium entitled "Spinal Cord Motor Control: Neurons, Networks, Movement" at Inn at
the Forks in Winnipeg. Presentations were given by 32 invited international and national
experts in the field of spinal cord motor control and restoration of function. During this high
profile event, we celebrated Dr. Larry Jordan's enormous contributions to spinal cord
research and to Winnipeg's scientific community over the past 40 years. The overwhelming
support from the following sponsors was greatly appreciated. CIHR (INMA, INMHA),
Manitoba Health Research Council (MHRC), Health Sciences Centre Foundation (HSCF),
University of Manitoba (Depts. Physiology & Internal Medicine, Dean's Office (Faculty of
Medicine), Graduate Studies, VP International and Research)
Respect and recognition earned by members of the SCRC. Indicated by their selection for
membership in and leadership of national and international grant review committees, by their
selection for membership on the Editorial Boards of important neuroscience journals, and
by the fact that their expertise is sought in the manuscript review process of major
The SCRC labs have attracted collaborations and visiting scientists for joint research efforts
from across Canada, eg. Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal; and internationally from Denmark,
France, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Sweden and the United States. Most of the collaborators are
established, leading scientists in their area of expertise.
National and international recognition indicated by invitations to SCRC members to speak
at symposia and to lecture at other institutions. For a list of presentations visit
our Presentations page.
Over 300 publications (journal articles and published abstracts) by the SCRC core
researchers (Drs. Cowley, Eftekharpour, Fedirchuk, Gardiner, Jordan, McCrea and
Schmidt). To see a portion of these publications visit
our Publications page.
Development of the SCRC Data Capture and Analysis Software. This software has allowed
researchers both nationally and internationally the ability to acquire and analyse, much more
readily, their electrophysiological data. They can then enter this data into our basic science
database thus allowing spinal cord researchers to share information and results. New insights
have already been published from data identified through this database (McCrea in
collaboration with Dr. Prochazka's group in Edmonton).
Trainees and alumni of the SCRC have been recruited to some of the top academic
institutions in the world, including the University of Miami, University of Louisville,
University of British Columbia, Emory University, University of North Dakota, University
College London, and the University of Manitoba.
Faculty: Health Sciences, College of Medicine
Primary/Core member laboratories and appointments: Department of Physiology & Pathophysiology
Location: 4th Floor, Basic Medical Sciences Building, Bannatyne Campus
1.2 Administative Unit
College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Manitoba
Department of Physiology & Pathophysiology
745 Bannatyne Avenue
Winnipeg, Canada R3E 0J9
1.3 Role of Director
The Director shall be administratively responsible for the research unit,
providing direction and general supervision over the operation of the unit
and its research and training programs, including preparation of annual/progress
reports, holding information and planning meetings with any or all members
and staff, the Dean of Medicine, Office of Research Services, Public Affairs,
government, funding agencies and the general media, as required. The current
incumbant is Dr. Phillip Gardiner. A change in director would be appointed by
concensus of the SCRC members with approval by the Dean of Medicine.
Internal Advisory - the primary/core members shall share in
the responsibility of supervising and directing core staff in the shared facilities
and participate in budget planning and decision-making in overall direction
of the SCRC operation, programs and services.
External Advisory - composed of representatives from parties
that have a vested interest in the research unit, responsible for reviewing
annual progress, normally 1) Dean of Medicine, 2) Office
of the Vice President (Research & International);
3) Executive Director of Canadian Paraplegic
Association (MB) and 4) Board member of Manitoba Paraplegia Foundation.
SCRC Visiting Scientist Program - SCRC endeavours to host 1-3
visiting scientist lectures each year, of which one may be co-sponsored with
the Winnipeg Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience,
and one every 3 years co-sponsored with
the Univ. of Manitoba Viktor Havlicek Memorial Lecture Fund (co-ordinated
by the Director).
SCRC Journal Club - ongoing weekly seminars by SCRC students and researchers as well as
researchers from other UM departments.
2. Categories of Membership
A. Full Members
Full Members are defined as "Core",
hold a faculty appointment at the University of Manitoba,
contribute substantial effort to SCRC research,
and contribute to the SCRC program from their operating grants.
B. Affiliate Members
An Affiliate is a faculty member who is interested
in spinal cord research, but whose primary research effort is in another neuroscience discipline.
3. Procedures for appointments
The selection of faculty appointees for membership in the Centre is decided
by verbal concensus of the primary/core members. The suggestion for membership
may come from an SCRC member or an external party, the invitation from the
4. Privileges and responsibilities of membership
All members must hold an academic appointment at the University of
Manitoba and be actively conducting and/or supporting basic research and/or
clinical studies on functional systems of the spinal cord.
All members shall benefit from the visiting speaker program, journal
club and resident seminars, and information network systems coordinated by the
administrative unit office.
Primary/core members who contribute financially from their external grants
to the SCRC program shall have access to shared personnel and research facilities.
Members shall participate in regular informal meetings to review progress
on individual and group projects and plan future endeavours.
Members shall participate in fundraising, public relations and media
events for the benefit of the overall SCRC program.
This web site was set up to provide information about
the research underway at the Spinal Cord Research Centre primarily to prospective
students, postdoctoral trainees and research collaborators, as well as potential
funders or partners interested in supporting spinal cord research in Manitoba.