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Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injuries Grants Announced



Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

Minnesotans impacted by spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries may benefit from research funded by a new law enacted last year by Governor Mark Dayton.

Under Minnesota's new Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program, four grants are being awarded to research institutions in Minnesota. The grants support research into new and innovative treatments and rehabilitative efforts for functional improvement of people with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Approved research areas for the grant program include, but are not limited to, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, brain stimulus, and rehabilitative approaches and techniques.

"Spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries can happen in an instant and change a person's life, and that of their family, forever," said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Office of Higher Education (OHE). "These four grants continue the State's focus on advancing medical research and care."

As directed by the program's statute, the Commissioner of the Office of Higher Education, in conjunction with the program's advisory council, awarded 50 percent of the grant funds for research involving spinal cord injuries and 50 percent to research involving traumatic brain injury. Dr. Walter Low from the University of Minnesota's Medical School chairs the twelve-member advisory council.

Four grants of $125,000 were awarded to:

Research Project Title: Epidural Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injury
Principal Investigators: David Darrow, MD, MPH, Uzma Samadani, MD, PhD
Institutional Affiliation: Hennepin County Medical Center/University of Minnesota

Research Project Title: Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells and Scar Ablation for the Treatment of Chronic Spinal Cord Injury
Principal Investigator: Ann M. Parr, MD, PhD
Institutional Affiliation: University of Minnesota

Research Project Title: Neuroimaging and Neurovision Rehabilitation of Oculomotor Dysfunction in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Principal Investigator: Sarah Rockswold, MD
Institutional Affiliation: Hennepin County Medical Center

Research Project Title: Traumatic Brain Injury Classification and Outcome Assessment
Principal Investigator: Chard Richardson, MD
Institutional Affiliation: Hennepin County Medical Center

The two Spinal Cord Injury research projects focus on improving standing in patients with paraplegia and movement outcomes for individuals with previously untreatable, chronic spinal cord injuries. The two Traumatic Brain Injury research projects focus on documenting the effectiveness of neurovision rehabilitation for patients with mild traumatic brain injuries and using eye-tracking and serum markers as objective classifiers and outcome measures for traumatic brain injuries.

These research projects are funded through June 30, 2017. A Request for Proposals will be available in mid-April seeking new proposals for research programs to fund from July 2016 - June 30, 2017.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Nancy Walters at 651-259- 3907 or Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3202 or by email at

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