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Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in Blog, SCI CURE, SCI Research Fund Bill | 0 comments

Its More than just Money

IMG_1553Hello all,

Happy New Year…. every new year I find myself questioning how much closer we

have come to discovering real innovations for treating paralysis. Of course, I’m

focused on how much we’ve been able to influence the research, researchers, the

larger research economy and our own community. So let me tell you a little story of

a small exchange that I believe has very significant implications toward our big goal

of curing paralysis.

When I wasn’t immersed in holiday activities, I spent the last couple of weeks

before years end and the first week of the New Year reading through research

proposals that were submitted to the MN SCI/TBI research grant program. As a

layperson it was difficult reading so much so that I had to start a glossary of terms I

had not come across before, transcription factors, proteins, devices, various metrics

and an array of terms that I’m sure I would’ve encountered in the dreaded Organic

Chemistry syllabus. I was also feeling the weight of responsibility, both for the 5

years of work to get to this point of awarding dollars to research but also as one of

the voices for the SCI community on the advisory board entrusted with the task of

prioritizing research projects.

I must admit that I was intimidated by the process and harbored some fears that

Rob (fellow GUSU member) and I would find ourselves at odds with the researchers

and clinicians who made up the remainder of the advisory board, unable to find

consensus on what should be reasonably funded. And further, what if Rob and I

disagreed on the best way to distribute the dollars? While I can’t yet speak to the

details of what we will be funding until the process is completed and made public

sometime within the next week, I can with encouragement tell you that my fears did

not materialize.

After the several hours meeting one of the researchers talked with Rob and I for

some time about our advocacy work, the passage of the Bill and her research. She

began with a comment that was lovely music to my ears, something like: ‘I want to

send my research proposals to you guys to review before I send out for grant

requests…will you review them for me?’

It may not have equal import, but I left the meeting that day believing that there

are many more implications to the work we have begun here in MN beyond sending

dollars to research projects. One of them is holding steadfastly to the mandate the

community has given us: that we fund research that is seeking to provide

regenerative and or functional recovery, and that research in the chronic injury is

neither getting enough attention nor dollars.

I’ve always believed that the relationships we could develop along the way with

researchers would be critically important to affect the field, and the conversation we

had that afternoon confirmed it. She was seeking critical input from those she is

working everyday to help and she got it because we put ourselves in the right place

at the right time.

We have a long way to go yet, but in these first weeks of the New Year I’m

encouraged by the road we’re on.

M

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