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Scientists win top award for spinal cord injury research


Toronto, ON – Two scientists from Université Laval have received the 2014 and 2013 Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research, an annual $50,000 prize supported through a partnership between the Barbara Turnbull Foundation, Brain Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Drs. Yves De Koninck (2014) and Frédéric Bretzner (2013) of Université Laval are recipients of this prestigious award for their world-class work to advance research on spinal cord injury and find new treatments.

Dr. De Koninck and his research team are studying the impact of alterations to nerve cell function in the spinal cord after injury. Understanding these changes will help prevent and alleviate chronic neuropathic pain syndromes.

Dr. Bretzner and his team are investigating the pathways between the brain and the spinal cord that are important to movement. The research will enable them to identify the nervous circuits that need to be repaired to improve recovery of limb function following spinal cord injury or neurotrauma.

“I’m thrilled to present the award for 2014 to Dr. De Konnick, whose research increases our understanding of how to alleviate pain after spinal cord injury,” said Barbara Turnbull, president, The Barbara Turnbull Foundation. “Dr Bretzner will be receiving the 2013 award for his studies of the pathways from the brain to the spinal cord that initiate movement. These are important parts of the puzzle.”

Barbara Turnbull is a well-known Toronto journalist and research activist who was shot and paralyzed from the neck down during a convenience store robbery when she was 18 in 1983. The Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research was established in 2001.

The announcement took place during the 13th Annual Charles H. Tator-Barbara Turnbull Lectureship Series in Spinal Cord Injury.