Two researchers won the 2014 and 2013 Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research. This recognition highlights their outstanding work to improve the health and quality of life of those living with spinal cord injuries.
Dr. Yves De Koninck
Professor of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, Laval University
Scientific Director, Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec
Nerve cells in the spinal cord in humans and animals are responsible for the relay of pain-related information from the body to the brain, leading to a perceived sensation. Injury to the nervous system can induce persistent changes in spinal cord function that cause pain and tenderness for very long periods (days to years) after healing. Dr. De Koninck's research aims to improve our understanding of how nerve cells regulate pain, and how this process is altered in the spinal cords of people with nerve damage. His findings will help with the design of treatments for the prevention and alleviation of chronic neuropathic pain syndromes, diabetic neuropathy, pain caused by stimuli that aren't normally painful, increased sensitivity to pain, and spontaneous or phantom limb pain.
Dr. Frédéric Bretzner
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Université Laval
Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec
Spinal cord injury is devastating due to the physical and economical harms experienced by patients and society. Although the spinal cord contains all the circuitry necessary for movement, in the absence of commands from the brain, people with spinal cord injuries are unable to walk. Motor recovery can be partially achieved through strategies or therapies intended to regrow nerve cells from the brain to the spinal cord. Some of these approaches have reported such promising results in animal models that clinical trials are currently underway. However, there are currently obstacles to translating these approaches into improved treatments. Dr. Bretzner's research aims to investigate the nervous circuits in the brain and the spinal cord that are important to movement, so that they can be targeted to improve recovery following spinal cord injury or neurotrauma affecting limb movement.
This annual prize is supported through a partnership between the Barbara Turnbull Foundation, Brain Canada, and the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.
- $50,000 — Government of Canada funding awarded through CIHR
- $25,000 — Brain Canada
- $25,000 — The Barbara Turnbull Foundation
Each recipient received $50,000