2008 Media


BARRIERS TO CURE? Paralysis to be Challenged, March 29th, 2008

IImagine six of the world’s best scientists, locked in a room, ready to take on the world’s most devastating and incurable condition: spinal cord injury paralysis.

Exaggeration? Well, yes. The doors will not be locked at the Paul D. Coverdell Center at the University of Georgia.

Paralysis has been called incurable since the days of the Pharaohs, when a pictogram on the wall of an Egyptian tomb grimly noted: “Of paralyzed soldiers, deny them water, let them die – there is nothing that can be done.” Until today, that was the world’s opinion.

“Spinal Cord Injury: What Are The Barriers to Cure?”, a one-day workshop, a unique example of scientific cooperation: working together, isolating obstacles to paralysis.

And the scientists?

  • Hans Keirstead, whose embryonic stem cell research attracted national attention on 60 MINUTES – and whose approach to acute spinal cord injury cure goes to FDA-approved human trials this year;
  • Naomi Kleitman, expert neuroscientist, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, at the National Institutes of Health;
  • Wise Young, Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University, and co-inventor of the only FDA-approved treatment for spinal cord injury: Methylprednisolone;
  • Steven L. Stice, GRA Eminent Scholar, University of Georgia, one of the most creative minds in science, who recently proposed a way to use embryonic stem cells to help in the fight against terrorism;
  • Jose Cibelli, Professor at Michigan State University, pioneering leader in “translational research”, turning theories into therapies;
  • Ann Kiessling, Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Director of The Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation, and author of the only textbook on human embryonic stem cell science, Human Embryonic Stem Cells .

And an invited panel of more experts with equally impressive credentials, such as:

  • Scott Whittemore, Professor and Vice Chairman for Research, Department of Neurological Surgery, Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, University of Louisville;
  • Christopher Shields, Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery, Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, University of Louisville;
  • Ravi Bellamkonda, Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology;
  • Peter Gorman, Associate Professor of Neurology, Director, Spinal Cord Injury Service, Kernan Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center.

The result will be a “facts and needs” position paper, to bring together what must be done to alleviate the devastating condition of spinal cord injury paralysis.

Hosted by the UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, in cooperation with THE SHEPHERD CENTER, the event will take place MARCH 29TH, at Paul D. Coverdell Center, 500 D.W. Brooks Drive, Room 175, Athens, GA 30602 on March 29, 2008, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

On Friday, March 28th, Mrs. Alana Shepherd is hosting a special tour of the new SHEPHERD CENTER for media and workshop speakers from 4-6 PM including a light supper. RSVP required.

For more information, email: info@bedfordresearch.org
Register online at: http://www.bedfordresearch.org/spinalworkshop
Registration fee is $35.00 per person.

For additional press information, contact:
Allison Kiessling at 781-718-7894, or
Loch Jones at 310-480-1234

– END –


March 10, 2008

WRITER: Rebecca Ayer, 706/583-0578, alea@uga.edu
CONTACT: Allison Kiessling at 781-718-7894, or
Loch Jones at 310-480-1234

UGA to host Spinal Cord Workshop for medical professionals and scientists

Athens, GA. – The University of Georgia will be the host site for the Spinal Cord Workshop, a day long event that brings together leaders in neurosurgery, neurology and basic science, to identify current barriers and solutions to restoring spinal cord function following injury.

The workshop, titled “Spinal Cord Injury: What Are The Barriers To Cure?,” will be held March 29 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences on the University of Georgia campus.

The Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation, the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center and the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, will conduct and organize the event.

The goal of the workshop is to bring together medical and scientific expertise to identify barriers to reversal of the neurologic damage that follow spinal cord injury, and describe what is needed to overcome those barriers. The emerging field of stem cell therapy may hold special promise, but specifics about cell differentiation, method of delivery and outcome measures need to be developed. The leaders in the field need the support and collaboration necessary to realize the potential for spinal cord injury cures that now exists.

During the morning session, the workshop’s faculty will present each of the major areas of research. During the afternoon session, the faculty will focus on summarizing and targeting the current barriers in each area. At the end of the day, all these presentations will culminate in a list of these barriers and discussion of next steps for moving the research forward.

The workshop will produce a “facts and needs” positions paper for education and emphasis on specific resources to cure spinal cord injury, sooner rather than later.

Workshop faculty are:

  • Hans Keirstead, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, University of California at Irvine, Reeve-Irvine Research Center.
  • Naomi Kleitman, Ph.D., program director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health.
  • Wise Young, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University, and director, W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience.
  • Steven L. Stice, Ph.D., professor, GRA Eminent Scholar, director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center at University of Georgia and CSO, Aruna Biomedical Inc.
  • Jose Cibelli, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor, Department of Animal Science and Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, and director, Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory.
  • Ann A. Kiessling, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery, Harvard Medical School, and director, Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation.

Created in 1996, the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation is a Massachusetts-based public charity and biomedical institute that exists to conduct stem cell and related research for diseases and conditions that currently have no cure.