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2010 Reeve Foundation Spinal Cord Symposium

Albert Aguayo, Ph.D. (McGill University) and Lorne Mendell, Ph.D. (SUNY Stony Brook)
Albert Aguayo, Ph.D. (McGill University) and Lorne Mendell, Ph.D. (SUNY Stony Brook)

View the photo gallery.

The Reeve Foundation held its fourth Spinal Cord Symposium December 10-12, 2010 in Phoenix, AZ. It was historic because for the first time, scientists and clinicians from all four Reeve research programs were featured and early feedback suggests that everyone there felt the bench-to-bedside continuum of science was enriching and exciting. The first three symposia focused only on investigators holding Individual Research Grant awards; the Phoenix meeting also included members of the Reeve International Research Consortium and its North American Clinical Trials and NeuroRecovery Networks.

Dr. Albert Aguyao of McGill University opened the meeting on Friday evening with his keynote lecture, "A Look Back at "Regeneration." At the reception afterwards, old friends reconnected, scientists began to share notes and explore possible collaborations, and members of the spinal cord community met new friends and began their scientific tutorial.

Saturday was chock-a-block full of science that ranged from a most fundamental look at axon regeneration from the perspective of the lowly (but incredibly instructive) c elegans worm to the other end of the spectrum where findings from the research bench eventually get translated into the clinic via clinical trials. Leonard Lopate, host of WNYC's "The Leonard Lopate Show" hosted our Town Hall meeting, addressed the sometimes overlooked players in the spinal cord injury story - families and caregivers. Led by Mr. Lopate's skillful and insightful questions, a mother and son, husband and wife and patient and doctor gave us a look into a world that is challenging, exhausting and frustrating but is also filled with love, selfless sacrifice, good humor and grace.

On Saturday evening, Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton (UCLA) in his lecture, "It's Time to Pick the Fruit," spoke about how he and his colleagues are translating some of their basic science findings to the clinic. The project involves implanting a spinal cord patient with an epidural stimulator to promote the ability to stand and step.

Sunday morning there were more chalk talks zeroing in on the glial scar, hand function, spinal cord circuitry and brain stimulation. The final general session focused on restoration of health and function in chronic injury and featured presetations by Drs. Susan Harkema and Hunter Peckham.

We hope everyone left Phoenix with a palpable sense of progress made and research paths to pursue and with an appreciation for the momentum and excitment that are propelling this field forward now but were non-existent just a few short years ago!

In our photo gallery, you'll meet some of the 110 scientists and 60 patients, family members and their friends who joined us in Phoenix.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders