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Funding for spinal cord injury research Chair reaches $6M


Vancouver, BC May 21, 2003 A donation of C$1.5 million, over the next five years, has been made to complete the endowment funding for the first BC Leadership Chair. The donation is being committed jointly by John and Penny Ryan of Whistler, BC, and the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation (RHMIMF).

The Chair was established at the University of British Columbia, through a commitment from the province’s Leading Edge Endowment Fund, matched by the RHMIMF. This donation brings the endowment to a total of $6 million.

To honour the Ryan’s donation, the Chair will be renamed The John and Penny Ryan BC Leadership Chair in Spinal Cord Injury Research. It supports a senior academic position that is funded in perpetuity from the interest on the endowment.

The first incumbent is Dr John Steeves, director of the International Collaboration Of Repair Discoveries, who is leading the development of a new Vancouver-based international research centre, as well as the establishment of a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Translational Network that connects local, national and international researchers in the field.

The Ryan’s donation resulted from the John Ryan Regeneration Tour, in 1999, a portion of which has already been donated to neurotrauma research. Ryan, who has a spinal cord injury, raised over $1 million for Canadian Spinal Cord Regeneration Research when he crossed Canada in a hand cycle. In his professional life, he is one of Canada’s top-producing realtors.

“Since my regeneration tour in 1999, Penny and I have been waiting for the best way to contribute to the field of spinal cord injury,” says Ryan. “This donation is an expression of our belief in not only the work of John Steeves and the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation, but in the world-class talent, here in BC, engaged in leading-edge research.”

“The creation of this endowment, is an example of partnership at its best,” says Rick Hansen. “None of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors like the Ryans, of the government’s commitment to foster excellence in research, and of the talented researchers here in BC, like Dr Steeves. The result is improved quality of life for people with spinal cord injury.”