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Published: April 30 2010

VANCOUVER — Premier Anna Bligh announced today that her Queensland government is providing $1 million in funding for a groundbreaking partnership between the Rick Hansen Institute and Queensland spinal cord injury (SCI) researchers.

The funding will be provided to a research group in Brisbane, allowing it to partner with researchers/clinicians at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre in Vancouver and establish Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital as the first international partner site of the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry. Premier Bligh made the announcement at Vancouver’s Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, home of the Rick Hansen Institute and the Registry. She was joined by Moira Stilwell, BC Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development; Rick Hansen, President and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation; and Dr. Marcel Dvorak, Vancouver Coastal Health spine surgeon and Medical Director of the Registry.

"This is important work," said Premier Bligh. "My government is pleased to make this strategic investment because of the world‐class expertise of the Rick Hansen Institute and the potential of the research to improve quality of life for thousands of people suffering spinal cord injuries."

"This funding from Queensland will not only help people with SCI but will also support and strengthen the British Columbia and Queensland research economic agreement that we signed in June 2008," said Minister Stilwell. "My government supports the important work Rick Hansen does and just recently committed to providing $25 million in funding over seven years to the Rick Hansen Foundation and Rick Hansen Institute. We are delighted that this made‐in‐BC registry’s first international partner will be Brisbane, Queensland."

The Registry is a program of the Rick Hansen Institute. It was launched in 2003 with funding from the Rick Hansen Foundation through the BC Neurotrauma Fund, with subsequent funding provided by Health Canada in 2008. Today, with additional operational funding provided by both the BC and Canadian governments, the Registry has a presence across Canada at all major acute care and rehabilitation hospitals. It tracks, stores, and analyzes critical data collected from people who sustain a SCI, which is then used by researchers to better understand the impact and effectiveness of specific medical interventions.

"Twenty‐five years ago I started my Man In Motion World Tour to encourage the world to find a cure for spinal cord injury," said Rick Hansen. "It’s truly inspiring to see the progress that’s been made. In order to accelerate progress going forward, we need to connect the world and increase collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and joint participation in common initiatives. This announcement will serve as an example for other countries around the world during our 25th Anniversary."

The Registry’s platform is also an important tool to coordinate and collect data emerging from multi‐centre SCI clinical trials and research studies supported by the Rick Hansen Institute. These include a project to identify best practices in treating traumatic SCI, and the funding announced by Premier Bligh today will also allow the Brisbane researchers to participate in and contribute to this study.

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