Queen’s neuroscientist wins national award for spinal research

Published: November 7, 2008  |  Source: exchangemagazine.com

Kingston – Queen’s University professor of Physiology Ken Rose has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the prestigious Barbara Turnbull Award for research in the area of spinal cord injury – an affliction that affects millions of Canadians.

The award is presented annually to the top-ranked spinal cord researcher in Canada, identified by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It was initiated in 2001 by well-known Toronto journalist and research activist Barbara Turnbull, who, at the age of 18, was shot and paralyzed from the neck down during a convenience store robbery.

“Dr. Rose’s exceptional contributions to spinal cord research are highly deserving of such distinction,” says Queen’s Vice-Principal (Research) Kerry Rowe. “We are delighted and proud of the attention he is drawing to the world-class neuroscience research happening in Canada, and at Queen’s.”

Dr. Rose, who headed the CIHR Group in Sensory-Motor Integration at Queen’s from 2000 to 2005, has built a multidisciplinary research program devoted to unraveling the properties of neurons involved in the control of movement, and the changes in these properties following injuries to nerves or the spinal cord. His overall aim is to understand mechanisms used by the brain to control movement, and the consequences of damage from traumatic injuries.

“We hope that findings from our research may provide a basis for the design of new therapies that will reduce the debilitating and chronic consequences of injuries to the nervous system,” says Dr. Rose, who is currently the Associate Dean of Life Sciences and Biochemistry at Queen’s. “The exceptionally constructive and stimulating Environment created by the members of our Group has made me a champion of team-based science,” he adds.

Through the Barbara Turnbull Foundation, the NeuroScience Canada Foundation, and the Institute of Neurosciences – Mental Health and Addiction of the CIHR, the award provides $50,000 to support the recipient’s research in this area.

“We are proud to encourage Canadian health researchers who put their efforts into improving the lives of people who have sustained spinal cord injuries,” said Dr. Rémi Quirion, Scientific Director of the CIHR-INMHA, in presenting the award. “Any findings in this area of research represent a critical step towards a cure for many Canadians.”

Unable to attend the ceremony due to a Pressure Sore caused by her spinal cord injury, Ms Turnbull sent a message of congratulations to Dr. Rose. “I will make arrangements to visit you and learn firsthand about your clearly exceptional work when I am up and around again,” she wrote. “To my friends from CIHR and NeuroScience Canada: your continued support for this award means a great deal to me. I am with you all in spirit today and look forward to seeing you all in the future.”

Past award winners include: Richard Stein (2007) from the University of Alberta; Perre Drapeau (2006) from Université de Montréal; Joseph Culotti (2005) from the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute; David Bennett (2004) from University of Alberta; Mohamad Sawan (2003) from École Polytechnique de Montréal; and David Kaplan (2002) from the Hospital for Sick Children.