About the Spinal Cord Research Centre
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The Spinal Cord Research Centre consists of 21 principal investigators from
seven Departments or Schools of the University of Manitoba. These investigators
are joined by over sixty research associates, post-doctoral fellows, students
and support staff.
The Centre was brought into being through a joint effort among the Canadian
Paraplegic Association, the Health Sciences Centre Research Foundation and
the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Medicine.
Its director is Dr. David McCrea
of the Department of Physiology. Previously the Centre was directed by Dr.
Larry Jordan (1997-2003) and co-directed by Dr. Jordan and Dr Hyman Dubo of
the Section of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine (1989-1997).
The mission of the Spinal Cord Research Centre of Winnipeg is to provide an
environment for world-class spinal cord research and training. Emphasis is on
research into the mechanisms controlling movement, bowel and bladder function,
and the effects of training on the nervous system. This knowledge will also
provide new clinical tools for the treatment of injury and disease affecting
these functional systems.
Within the broad scope of spinal cord research:
- broaden the scope of graduate and fellowship training programs through formal
and informal interactions with several faculty and laboratories
- consolidate technical support and development of new research tools
- maximize efficiencies by sharing technical and support resources wherever
- provide administrative support and encouragement for cooperative (inter-laboratory)
Origins and Direction
The Spinal Cord Research Centre (SCRC) of Winnipeg was formed in
1987 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 Division. The Spinal Cord Research Centre concept
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 his Man in Motion World Tour to raise funds
for spinal cord research. The SCRC was set up for the recruitment of new clinical
and basic science faculty and the establishment of new laboratories in which independently
funded research could flourish within the Faculty of Medicine. To a large extent
these goals have been met. Several nationally and internationally funded laboratories
have been set up. There is an active graduate training program, and there has
been international recognition of the work carried out at the Centre. With the
maturation of SCRC, emphasis has shifted from growth to continuance.
Basic research efforts have evolved from in vivo
experiments on adult animal models (members of the SCRC are leaders
in the fields of locomotor control and neural control of bladder
function) to molecular and cellular approaches made possible by
recruitment of faculty (Dr. Schmidt, Dr. D. Nance, Dr. Hochman)
and incorporation of existing faculty (Drs. Nagy, Cheng and
Geiger) with appropriate expertise.
Clinical research developments
have included intrathecal drug studies (Dr. P. Nance and Dr. Schmidt),
clinical gait studies (Dr. P. Nance), and clinical treatments for bone
density loss after spinal cord injury (Dr. P. Nance), among many others.
The addition of a neurosurgeon to the group (Dr. Brownstone 1995-2000) allowed
the development of research efforts designed to bring the basic research of
SCRC members into clinical application, particularly for new approaches requiring
neurosurgery. This group is unique in the world, and is poised to make further
significant advances in the treatment of spinal cord injury and disease. See
our areas of expertise
for more information.
We also invite you to browse through various
articles written about us.
- Basic neurophysiological and neuropharmacological research on
- Determining the neuroactive substances which can be used to
control locomotor activity, micturition, and spasticity.
- Evaluating efficacy of intrathecal drug injections and stimulation
procedures in human patients for control of movement, bladder function,
and sexual function.
- Identification and isolation of the nerve cells responsible for
particular behaviours such as locomotion and bladder function.
- Identification and isolation of growth inhibiting and promoting factors,
and assessment of techniques for promotion of functional recovery after spinal
injury by targeting regeneration strategies to selected functional systems.
- Development of devices and pharmaceutical agents for treatment
of neurological injury.
1) The promotion of 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) The maintenance of core technical facilities including software development
and electronic equipment design and manufacture. These are now critical functions
of the SCRC because the University has closed the faculty electronics support
service and the Department of Physiology has discontinued its electronics technician
position. 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.
3) A spinal cord training program. This 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
trainees. An example is computational neuroscience taught by Dr. Bashor, University
of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Bashor was an SCRC funded visiting scientist
and continues to collaborate with members of the group. In addition, Dr. McCrea
has developed two electronics instrumentation courses (90:731, 90:732) tailored
to the needs of spinal cord investigators. These courses are also attended by
visiting scientists and post doctoral fellows.
4) A coordinating central office with one administrative assistant for
the promotion of lectures, arranging visiting scientists, administration of
shared CIHR Group Grant and NIH grants, maintenance of information systems,
providing secretarial support to the faculty, staff and trainees of SCRC, and
to the Neuroscience Research Group.
Currently, the primary/core members hold positions and research labs in
the Department of Physiology. Future growth will likely expand outside the confines
of Physiology, and the Faculty of Medicine. For example, Drs. Karen Ethans (Section
of Rehabilitation Medicine), Michelle Porter and Phillip Gardiner (Faculty of
Physical Education and Leisure Studies) are new members with primary academic
appointments outside of Physiology.
Dr. Porter heads up the Neuromuscular Performance and Aging Laboratory at the
Health, Human Leisure and Performance Research Institute located at the Fort
Garry Campus. Dr. Gardiner, who begins his appointment July 1, 2002, as the
Director of the HLHP Research Institute and Canada Research Chair in Physical
Activity & Health Studies, has been
given an adjunct appointment with no teaching commitments in the Department
of Physiology to set up a new state-of-the art Neuromuscular (spinal cord) Physiology
Laboratory, conjoining with the SCRC group. His lab will be located in Physiology.
Dr. Dean Kriellaars heads up the Human Performance lab in the School of Medical
Rehabilitation with cross-appointments in School of Medical Rehabilitation,
Faculty of Recreation, and Departments of Physiology and Surgery.
Dr. Fedirchuk, who was hired in a tenure track position in July 2000 in Physiology,
is the newest recipient of a CFI grant to set up a Neural-Imaging, Electrophysiology,
and Cellular-Perfusion Facility. Some of this equipment will be integrated into
the shared SCRC histology/imaging facility.
The primary core members of the SCRC are responsible for much of the basic neuroscience
teaching in medicine. Thus in addition to their graduate training responsibilities, McCrea,
Shefchyk, Jordan, Schmidt and Fedirchuk are key to the delivery of the medical curriculum.
The recent 25% increase in medical class size creates a significant imposition on spinal cord
research activities. Without recruitment, research programs within the SCRC will suffer.
The two positions that urgently need filling are a basic scientist interested in spinal cord
development and regeneration, and a clinician scientist (preferably a neurosurgeon) to take
research developments into the clinic. We expect that these individuals would be recruited
directly into existing University departments. We would hope that members of the SCRC would
be called upon to identify suitable applicants and assist with their integration into research
programs within the SCRC.
- The SCRC will help to identify and recruit new researchers to the University
- The SCRC will facilitate obtaining new funding opportunities through formal
collaborations, e.g. SCRC members currently hold NIH and CIHR group grants
- The scope of spinal cord research at the University of Manitoba involves
members of Rehabilitation Medicine, Neurology, Physiology, Physical Education,
as well as the National Research Council (Institute of Biodiagnostics). The
SCRC helps to bring these disciplines and individuals together.
Relationship to Strategic Plan of University
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 counterparts. The SCRC is clearly in harmony
with the University of Manitoba's strategic plan for research, as articulated
in the Task Force report
"Building on Strengths":
1. Centre recognition. 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.
2. Success of SCRC Core Members in CIHR, NIH and CFI competitions
Total funding held by the Primary (Core) Members has increased from $688,871
in 2000/2001 to $1,305,680 in 2001/2002 with the addition of the two NIH grants
awarded to McCrea/Shefchyk and Jordan/Brownstone/Schmidt/Duckworth (2001-2004)
and renewal of a CIHR Group grant (Jordan/McCrea/Shefchyk/Schmidt) (2000-2005)
awarded to support SCRC Core research personnel salaries of Programmer/Systems
Analyst, Electronics Technician, Graphics Technician, Histology Tech. The two
newest primary members, Drs. Fedrichuk and Gardiner, each received a CFI grant
awarded January 2002.
3. International competitiveness of SCRC is indicated by the Sources
of Funding which include the U.S. National Institutes of Health, among many
others. Overall, eleven SCRC members hold CIHR grants, one CIHR group grant
is held by the Core members, and four NIH grants have been awarded, of which
two are held by the Core members.
4. 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 neuroscience journals.
5. The SCRC labs have attracted collaborations and visiting scientists
for joint research efforts from across Canada, eg. Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal;
and internationally, from , Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Japan, Mexico,
Sweden and the United States. Most of the collaborators are established, leading
scientists in their area of expertise.
6. Members of the SCRC constantly pursued by other institutions as potential
recruits. This is a very clear indication of the recognition that SCRC members
have achieved. Recent losses in 1999 have been Dr. Shawn Hochman (recruited
to Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia) and Dr. Patricia Nance (recruited to
Veterans Affairs Medical Centre, Long Beach, California), and in 2000, Dr. Rob
Brownstone (recruited to Dalhousie University); the latter two have retained
External Adjunct appointments in the Department of Physiology to continue ongoing
research collaborations with SCRC.
7. National and international recognition indicated by over 100 invitations
to SCRC members to speak at symposia and to lecture at other institutions (1996-2001),
22 in 2000-2001.
8. International symposia and national meetings. SCRC members were
key figures in the organization of six international symposia and two national
meetings in the last 5 years.
9. Publication record. SCRC Full Members have published a total of
159 refereed papers during the period from 1996-2001 and most of these have
appeared in some of the top journals in the field.
10. Patents. Several members of the SCRC have been successful in the
development of intellectual property (Cheng, Nagy, D Nance), software (Jordan,
Kriellaars) and devices for rehabilitation (Kriellaars, P Nance).
11. 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 well as the University
1. Organization structure
Primary/Core member laboratories and appointments: Department of Physiology
Location: 4th Floor, Basic Medical Sciences Building, Bannatyne Campus
1.2 Administative Unit
University of Manitoba Telephone: 204-789-3761
Department of Physiology Facsimile: 204-789-3930
745 Bannatyne Avenue, BMSB 436 E-mail: email@example.com
Winnipeg, Canada R3E 0J9 Website: http://www.scrc.umanitoba.ca
Director: Dr. David A. McCrea, Professor, Dept. of Phsyiology
Faculty members: 13 Full Members, 6 Associate Members, 3 External Adjunct
Research Associates: 11
Postdoctoral Fellows: 8
Ph.D. Students: 9
Masters Students: 23
Technicial Support Staff: 18
Admin/Secretarial Staff: 1
1.4 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. Larry Jordan. 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) Executive Director of Canadian
Paraplegic Association (MB), 3) Board member of Manitoba Paraplegia Foundation,
4) Head of Section of Rehab Medicine, and 5) Director of Research, HSC.
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 the Society for Neuroscience
Grass Travelling Scientist Program, 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. Currently coordinated
by Dr. B. Fedirchuk.
Neuroscience Seminar Series (Resident speaker program) - resuming
Fall 2002. Currently coordinated by Dr. S. Shefchyk.
2. Categories of Membership
A. Full Members
Full Members are defined as either "Primary/Core" or "Secondary"
as follows, and hold a faculty appointment at the University of Manitoba:
"Primary/Core Members" contribute substantial effort to SCRC research
and contribute to the SCRC program from their operating grants.
"Secondary Members" contribute substantial effort to SCRC research
but provide no financial support of overall program.
B. Associate Members
An Associate is a faculty member, including external adjunct, who is interested
in spinal cord research, but whose primary research effort is in another neuroscience
discipline (i.e. NDRG) or is performed at an external institution (i.e. Dr.
Brownstone at Dalhousie U.)
2 External Adjuncts: formerly full members who have been recruited elsewhere
but continue research collaborations with SCRC members
4 NDRG Members: primary research effort is in Neurodegenerative Disease
Research but conduct research collaborations with SCRC members
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.
1. Past History
The Centre, established in January 1987, received the following funding support
to establish, develop and maintain the Neuroscience Research Program, including
the Spinal Cord Research Centre, at the University of Manitoba and Health Sciences
1987 - 1999 $4,848,854 from the Health
Sciences Centre Foundation. Most of these funds were for the purpose of
recruiting new neuroscience faculty over a seven-year period, of which three
positions are now fully funded by university and/or HSC. These funds also covered
major equipment, renovations and the operation of the SCRC.
1987 - 2001 $335,000 from the Manitoba
Paraplegia Foundation and the Will to Win Scholarship fund which MPF administers
for academic salary support.
1999/2001 $406,000 bridge funding from The Province of Manitoba (Health)
2000/2001 $95,000 from the University of Manitoba President and Dean of Medicine
to support two key personnel - Research Associate (Jordan Lab) and SCRC administrative
secretary (OA5) - which had been previously funded under the HSCF contract agreement.
The SCRC program has attracted and established leading investigators in spinal
cord research. The incorporation of these individuals into University departments
and their emergence as leaders within the faculty is but one example of the
positive benefits of the SCRC to the University.
As at April 1, 2002, the total annual amount held by Primary/Core members
for the current operating year (2002/2003) is $1,320,729.
Manitoba Paraplegia Foundation
MPF have provided an annual scholarship award since 1987 through the Will
to Win Annual Golf Classic fundraiser, whose mandate it is to provide scholarship
support for an SCRC investigator who holds an academic appointment, preferably
a new recruit, or other suitable member as named by the SCRC director. These
funds had been formerly used to supplement academic salary appointments, and
are now used for special academic appointments (eg. research associate).
The University of Manitoba "Spinal Cord Research" donations account
was set up in March, 1999, for receipt of private donations made in the memorial
category, a few from all-charities campaigns run annually by corporations or
employee organizations. Dr. Jordan has responded to over 100 donors with a personal
thank you letter which the Private Funding Office forwards along with the tax
donation receipt and acknowledgement card from the UM.
Software Sales Income
The Software Income Account was set up in January 1997 to collect income from
the sale of the Data Capture and Analysis Software developed at the Spinal Cord
Research Centre. This software for nervous system data capture and analysis
has a sale value of CAD 7,000 for Linux users. Copies have been sold to researchers
in Denmark, Sweden, USA, Japan, and Canada, with the most recent sale made in
April 2001. The funds held in this account are used to subsidize development
and maintenance of the software.
The likelihood of attracting future external funding is very high, based on
the proven track record of the SCRC members. Some of the important factors are
A. Salary support
- All academic members hold tenure track or GFT appointments
- Technical staff have been continuously supported from external grant funds
over a 15-year period, and are currently funded through to 2004/2005
B. Research grant funding
- A 15+-year history of successful grant funding and publication record of
the primary/core members and other SCRC members, not only for individual operating
grants but group grants as well, of which the CIHR's are in the renewable
C. MPF (WTW)
- Likely renewable
- MPF and the Canadian Paraplegia Association (Manitoba Division) have been
a funding partner of SCRC since its inception and are committed to continuing
its support in the form of an annual scholarship award (WTW) to a named SCRC
D. Private Funding
- There is definitely the potential for increase in receipt of private donations,
which could be further developed under the guidance of the UM Public Relations
Office, by promoting awareness of the SCRC research program through advertising
to business corporations and employee organizations, and on the UM/SCRC website.
E. Software Sales Income
- The software for the analysis of electrophysiology data that SCRC has developed
is in use in 7 laboratories in Winnipeg and has been sold to 7 other investigators
in 5 countries. Software development (programmer-analysts salary) was funded
through general SCRC funds and is a continuing effort. Thus this individual
fulfills a function broader than the maintenance of grant-related software.
It is hoped that future software sales can contribute to the programmer salary.
Purpose of this Site
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.
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