Lab Canada

Edmonton scientist receives Salk award

Edmonton, AB – June 25, 2004 – Ontario March of Dimes has awarded Dr Richard B Stein the 2004 Dr Jonas Salk Award. The $10,000 prize, co-sponsored by Aventis Pasteur and Ontario March of Dimes, was presented to Dr Stein yesterday at the Paul Martin Sr Society Reception.

Each year, the award is presented to a Canadian scientist who has made a new, or significant contribution to science or medicine in alleviating or preventing a disabling condition.

“It is a great honour to be receiving this award from an organization that is instrumental in helping so many people,” says Dr Stein, professor of physiology at the University of Alberta. He works with a team of scientists and clinicians in the university’s rehabilitation neuroscience group, whose goal is to understand how the human nervous system controls body movement.

“We use our understanding to help people with disabilities – for example, people with spinal cord injuries, stroke, or Parkinsons’s disease,” says the New York City native, who earned his PhD degree in physiology from Oxford University in England. As a student, he “found the complexity and largely unknown nature of the nervous system most fascinating.”

As one of very few scientists capable of seeing how experimental findings can turn into practical and commercial applications, Dr Stein has had a long-standing interest in providing solutions to alleviating disability. His collaboration with mechanical engineer Kelly James has led to some of the best designs, including the C-leg – a device, which makes use of sensory feedback to improve gait for above-the-knee amputees. He and Mr James also designed LegPro, a modified wheelchair that propels itself by making use of muscles that bend and straighten the knee, thereby preventing severe leg atrophy experienced by long-term wheelchair users.