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Archive for the ‘Foundations for supporting Science and Education’ Category


The Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School’s 11 basic and social science departments launched in recognition of the transformative $200 million Blavatnik Family Foundation’s committed for scientific research 

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

“This momentous gift will enable us to accelerate the pace of therapeutic discovery at HMS and advance initiatives aimed at solving some of humanity’s most acute biomedical challenges,” said Daley at the ceremony. “It will help empower our work in service to the world through research that stimulates the development of new knowledge, new therapies and new tools to diagnose and prevent disease.”

Blavatnik, a 1989 graduate of Harvard Business School, said his Harvard education contributed to his success in business and he was happy to give back to the School—not only because of the personal attachment he has to Harvard but also because he sees the commitment as a wise investment in the future.

“One of the lessons from business I acquired is that if you invest in the best people, you will probably get better than average results. You might get the best results,” Blavatnik said. “I am making a bet, which actually I think is a safe bet, that by helping the most talented academics, researchers and scientists that are here, the results will not only be above average but hopefully outstanding.”

Blavatnik added that investing in education is especially important to him because of his own upbringing in a family of academics. His father was a chemistry professor and his mother taught electrical engineering, he said; his first degree was in computer science.

“So, I always felt that science is really what moves this society forward. The technology, the progress of technology, is what really changes people’s lives,” he said. “Now, obviously, medical technology is the frontier of science today.”

Bacow said the Blavatnik gift enables the future discoveries that promise to improve the world for all humanity.

“Harvard did not build itself. It exists because our predecessors were willing to invest their time and their resources to create the institution that we see today,” Bacow said. “I want to thank Len and his foundation because they are very tangibly contributing to a long tradition … of each generation supporting the next, each generation working to enable the next generation to have the same kind of opportunity to make the world a better place.” 

Wilson, who was in the first class of recipients of the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists in the Life Sciences, said she felt the gift is a recognition of “the excellence of the science that goes on here every day,” and that with this recognition comes a heightened sense of responsibility. She added that support of this magnitude affords HMS scientists greater freedom to take risks.

“I think it’s really important to realize that excellence in science requires thoughtful, intelligent risk taking, but risky projects are often difficult to fund. You can’t get a federal grant to do a risky project and that creates a kind of perverse incentive to work on small problems rather than big problems,” Wilson said.

She added that Blavatnik’s support has given her lab the freedom to take those risks and, as a result, her team has made discoveries that wouldn’t have been possible without it. Those new discoveries, she said, have led to new federal funding which, in turn, has made new projects and new questions possible. 

“That’s the kind of virtuous cycle that really gives us enthusiasm and optimism about our ability to do science in the future,” she said.

Summers said the new discoveries made at HMS are what is making this “the century of the biomedical and life sciences,” and he said the work enabled by the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s generosity will be transformative.

SOURCE

https://hms.harvard.edu/news/frontier-science?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_term=field_news_item_1&utm_content=HMNews02112019

 

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NIH SBIR Funding Early Ventures: September 26, 2018 sponsored by Pennovation

Stephen J. Williams PhD, Reporter

Penn Center for Innovation (Pennovation) sponsored a “Meet with NCI SBIR” program directors at University of Pennsylvania Medicine Smilow Center for Translational Research with a presentation on advice on preparing a successful SBIR/STTR application to the NCI as well as discussion of NCI SBIR current funding opportunities.   Time was allotted in the afternoon for one-on-one discussions with NCI SBIR program directors.

To find similar presentations and one-on-one discussions with NCI/SBIR program directors in an area nearest to you please go to their page at:

https://sbir.cancer.gov/newsevents/events

For more complete information on the NCI SBIR and STTR programs please go to their web page at: https://sbir.cancer.gov/about

A few notes from the meeting are given below:

  • In 2016 the SBIR/STTR 2016 funded $2.5 billion (US) of early stage companies; this is compared to the $6.6 billion invested in early  stage ventures by venture capital firms so the NCI program is very competitive with alternate sources of funding
  • It was stressed that the SBIR programs are flexible as far as ownership of a company; SBIR allows now that >50% of the sponsoring company can be owned by other ventures;  In addition they are looking more favorably on using outside contractors and giving leeway on budgetary constraints so AS THEY SUGGEST ALWAYS talk to the program director about any questions you may have well before (at least 1 month) you submit. More on eligibility criteria is found at: https://sbir.cancer.gov/about/eligibilitycriteria
  • STTR should have strong preliminary data since more competitive; if don’t have enough go for  an R21 emerging technologies grant which usually does not require preliminary data
  • For entities outside the US need a STRONG reason for needing to do work outside the US

Budget levels were discussed as well as  the waiver program, which allows for additional funds to be requested based on criteria set by NCI (usually for work that is deemed high priority or of a specialized nature which could not be covered sufficiently under the standard funding limits) as below:

Phase I: 150K standard but you can get waivers for certain work up to 300K

Phase II: 1M with waiver up to 2M

Phase IIB waiver up to 4M

You don’t need to apply for the waiver but grant offices may suggest citing a statement requesting a waiver as review panels will ask for this information

Fast Track was not discussed in the presentation but for more information of the Fast Track program please visit the website  

NCI is working hard to cut review times to 7 months between initial review to funding however at beginning of the year they set pay lines and hope to fund 50% of the well scored grants

NCI SBIR is a Centralized system with center director and then program director with specific areas of expertise: Reach out to them

IMAT Program and Low-Resource Setting new programs more suitable for initial studies and also can have non US entities

Phase IIB Bridge funding to cross “valley of death” providing up to 4M for 2-3 years: most were for drug/biological but good amount for device and diagnostics

 

Also they have announced administrative supplements for promoting diversity within a project: can add to the budget

FY18 Contracts Areas

3 on biotherapies

2 imaging related

2 on health IT

4 on radiation therapy related: NOTE They spent alot of time discussing the contracts centered on radiation therapy and seems to be an area of emphasis of the NCI SBIR program this year

4 other varied topics

 

Breakdown of funding

>70% of NCI SBIR budget went to grants (for instance Omnibus grants); about 20-30% for contracts; 16% for phase I and 34 % for phase II ;

ALSO the success rate considerably higher for companies that talk to the program director BEFORE applying than not talking to them; also contracts more successful than Omnibus applications

Take Advantage of these useful Assistance Programs through the NIH SBIR Program (Available to all SBIR grantees)

NICHE ASSESSMENT Program

From the NCI SBIR website:

The Niche Assessment Program is designed to help small businesses “jump start” their commercialization efforts. All active HHS (NIH, CDC, FDA) SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees and Phase I Fast-Track awardees (by grant or contract) are eligible to apply. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis!

The Niche Assessment Program provides market insight and data that can be used to help small businesses strategically position their technology in the marketplace. The results of this program can help small businesses develop their commercialization plans for their Phase II application, and be exposed to potential partners. Services are provided by Foresight Science & Technology of Providence, RI.

Technology Niche Analyses® (TNA®) are provided by Foresight, for one hundred and seventy-five (175), HHS SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees. These analyses assess potential applications for a technology and then for one viable application, it provides an assessment of the:

  1. Needs and concerns of end-users;
  2. Competing technologies and competing products;
  3. Competitive advantage of the SBIR/STTR-developed technology;
  4. Market size and potential market share (may include national and/or global markets);
  5. Barriers to market entry (may include but is not limited to pricing, competition, government regulations, manufacturing challenges, capital requirements, etc.);
  6. Market drivers;
  7. Status of market and industry trends;
  8. Potential customers, licensees, investors, or other commercialization partners; and,
  9. The price customers are likely to pay.

Commercialization Acceleration Program  (CAP)

From the NIH SBIR website:

NIH CAP is a 9-month program that is well-regarded for its combination of deep domain expertise and access to industry connections, which have resulted in measurable gains and accomplishments by participating companies. Offered since 2004 to address the commercialization objectives of companies across the spectrum of experience and stage, 1000+ companies have participated in the CAP. It is open only to HHS/NIH SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees, and 80 slots are available each year. The program enables participants to establish market and customer relevance, build commercial relationships, and focus on revenue opportunities available to them.

I-Corps Program

The I-Corps program provides funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help commercialize your promising biomedical technology. During this 8-week, hands-on program, you’ll learn how to focus your business plan and get the tools to bring your treatment to the patients who need it most.

Program benefits include:

  • Funding up to $50,000 to cover direct program costs
  • Training from biotech sector experts
  • Expanding your professional network
  • Building the confidence and skills to create a comprehensive business model
  • Gaining years of entrepreneurial skills in only weeks.

 

ICORPS is an Entrepreneurial Program (8 week course) to go out talk to customers, get assistance with business models, useful resource which can guide the new company where they should focus on for the commercialization aspect

THE NCI Applicant Assistance Program (AAP)

The SBIR/STTR Applicant Assistance Program (AAP) is aimed at helping eligible small R&D businesses and individuals successfully apply for Phase I SBIR/STTR funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Participation in the AAP will be funded by the NCI, NINDS, and NHLBI with NO COST TO PARTICIPANTS. The program will include the following services:

  • Needs Assessment/Small Business Mentoring
  • Phase I Application Preparation Support
  • Application Review
  • Team/Facilities Development
  • Market Research
  • Intellectual Property Consultation

For more details about the program, please refer to NIH Notice NOT-CA-18-072.

 

These programs are free for first time grant applicants and must not have been awarded previous SBIR

Peer Learning Webinar Series goal to improve peer learning .Also they are starting to provide Regulatory Assistance (see below)

NIH also provides Mentoring programs for CEOS and C level

Application tips

  1. Start early: and obtain letters of collaboration
  2. Build a great team: PI multi PI, consider other partners to fill gaps (academic, consultants, seasoned entrepreneurs (don’t need to be paid)
  3. They will pre review 1 month before due date, use NIH Project Reporter to view previous funded grants
  4. Specify study section in SF to specify areas of expertise for review
  5. Specific aims are very important; some of the 20 reviewers focus on this page (describes goals and milestones as well; spend as much time on this page as the rest of the application
  6. Letters of support from KOLs are important to have; necessary from consultants and collaborators; helpful from clinicians
  7. Have a phase II commercialization plan
  8. Note for non US clinical trials:  They will not fund nonUS clinical trials; the company must have a FWA
  9. SBIR budgets defined by direct costs; can request a 7% fee as an indirect cost; and they have a 5,000 $ technical assistance program like regulatory consultants but if requested can’t participate in NIH technical assistance programs so most people don’t apply for TAP

 

  • They are trying to change the definition of innovation as also using innovative methods (previously reviewers liked tried and true methodology)

10.  before you submit solicit independent readers

NCI SBIR can be found on Twitter @NCIsbir ‏

Discussion with Monique Pond, Ph.D. on Establishment of a Regulatory Assistance Program for NCI SBIR

I was able to sit down with Dr. Monique Pond,  AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, Health Scientist within the NCI SBIR Development Center to discuss the new assistance program in regulatory affairs she is developing for the NCI SBIR program.  Dr Pond had received her PhD in chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University, completed a postdoctoral fellow at NIST and then spent many years as a regulatory writer and consultant in the private sector.  She applied through the AAAS for this fellowship and will bring her experience and expertise in regulatory affairs from the private sector to the SBIR program. Dr. Pond discussed the difficulties that new ventures have in formulating regulatory procedures for their companies, the difficulties in getting face time with FDA regulators and helping young companies start thinking about regulatory issues such as pharmacovigilence, oversight, compliance, and navigating the complex regulatory landscape.

In addition Dr. Pond discussed the AAAS fellowship program and alternative career paths for PhD scientists.

 

A formal interview will follow on this same post.

 

Other articles on this OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL on Funding for Startups and Early Ventures are given below:

 

Mapping Medical Device Startups Across The Globe per Funding Criteria

Funding Oncorus’s Immunotherapy Platform: Next-generation Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus (oHSV) for Brain Cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

 

Funding Opportunities for Cancer Research

 

Team Profile: DrugDiscovery @LPBI Group – A BioTech Start Up submitted for Funding Competition to MassChallenge Boston 2016 Accelerator

 

A Message from Faculty Director Lee Fleming on Latest Issue of Crowdfunding; From the Fung Institute at Berkeley

 

PROTOCOL for Drug Screening of 3rd Party Intellectual Property Presented for Funding Representation

 

Foundations as a Funding Source

 

The Bioscience Crowdfunding Environment: The Bigger Better VC?

 

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Tales from the Translational Frontier – Four Unique Approaches to Turning Novel Biology into Investable Innovations @BIOConvention #BIO2018

translationalresearch
Description

The translational pipeline of medical innovation that flows from academic research centers is at the heart of modern society’s ability to turn the explosion of biological discovery into transformative new medicines. A variety of different models have emerged to overcome the inherent challenges in identifying and advancing biological discoveries to a point where they become investable and can attract private sector partners capable of completing their development, regulatory approval and commercialization. However, most of these models involve academic medical centers, pharma companies and venture investors in the established biotech hubs.
This panel will explore how four distinctive programs that lie outside the flourishing ecosystems of the major biotech centers have been navigating the translational landscape and turning inventions into investable innovations.

Ability Level: All

Session ID: 21200

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Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland – A World-Class Clinic for Spinal Cord Injuries

Author: Gail S. Thornton, M.A.

Co-Editor: The VOICES of Patients, Hospital CEOs, HealthCare Providers, Caregivers and Families: Personal Experience with Critical Care and Invasive Medical Procedures

 

The Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC, www.paraplegie.ch) in Nottwil, Switzerland, is a privately owned, leading acute care and specialist hospital employing more than 1,500 health professionals in 80 different occupations that focuses on world-class primary care and comprehensive rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries. In addition to the SPC’s extensive range of medical and therapeutic care, treatment and services, the hospital offers advisory services, as well as research in the areas of paraplegia [paralysis of the legs and lower body, typically caused by spinal injury or disease], tetraplegia [also known as quadriplegia, paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso], prevention and related conditions. With 150 beds, the SPC provides modern facilities for rehabilitation and therapy, diagnostics, surgery, ongoing care, orthopedic technology, as well as social services and 24-hour emergency care.

In its 26-year history, the SPC has provided treatment and care to more than 20,000 in-patients. That number continues to grow exponentially due to the reputation of the SPC. In fact, the SPC’s staff performs their duties with effectiveness, expediency and cost-efficiency measures, requiring highly developed process-led medicine, centered around the needs of the patient.

The areas of medical specialty and centers of excellence include the Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC), the Swiss Spinal Column and Spinal Cord Centre (SWRZ), the Centre for Pain Medicine (ZSM) and the Swiss Olympic Medical Center (SOMC). These centers respectively offer patients cutting-edge medical treatment based on the most advanced research in areas covering treatment and rehabilitation cases of acute paraplegia, vertebral and spinal cord surgery, as well as services relating to pain management, sports medicine and preventive health checks.

Alongside the core focus on paraplegiology, the SPC is also equipped with the necessary medical facilities, allowing for the lifelong care of paraplegic patients. The SPC provides individually-tailored, comprehensive treatment in three phases (acute, reactivation and integration) using highly skilled staff and state-of-the-art equipment. The aim is always to re-establish a patient’s personal functionality, self-image and lifestyle to the fullest possible extent, with a holistic approach to treatment that includes mental, physical and psycho-social aspects, such as career, family and leisure activities.

Specialist services available at the SPC include amongst others orthopedics, neuro-urology, pain medicine, sports medicine, prevention, clinical research, emergency medicine, vehicle conversion and rehabilitation techniques. Medico-therapeutic treatments, such as physiotherapy, ergotherapy and training therapy are available, alongside advice and counseling services, such as professional reintegration.

The SPC is the largest of Switzerland’s four special hospitals for paraplegics and tetraplegics located in Nottwil/Lucerne, a town in central Switzerland on the shores of Lake Sempach. The other three facilities are in Basel, Sion and Zurich. Nowadays, the SPC consistently treats more than 60 percent of people with spinal cord injury in Switzerland and is fully occupied year-round. 

Image SOURCE: Photographs courtesy of Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland.  Interior and exterior photographs of the hospital.

 

Below is my interview with Hospital Director Dr. Med. Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., which occurred in March, 2017.

 As a privately owned clinic with a specialty in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries, how do you keep the spirit of research and innovation alive?

Dr. Med. (medicinae) Gmünder: The goal of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, an umbrella organization that encompasses the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, is to create a unique network of services for people with spinal cord injury, from primary care through to the end of their lives. Its aim is to provide comprehensive rehabilitation and to reintegrate those affected into family life, society and the working environment.

We want to maintain our pioneering and leading role in the fields of acute medicine, rehabilitation and lifelong assistance to people with spinal cord injuries. By providing a comprehensive network of services featuring solidarity, medical care, integration and lifelong assistance, as well as research all in one place, we are unique in Switzerland and in other countries around the world.

People with spinal cord injury rely upon our network of services, which are at their disposal throughout their lives. The challenge facing us is to continually adapt these services to reflect current research and treatment to comply with our mission of delivering high-quality services. The trust which has been placed in us obliges us to continue our success story.

We have our own research department, closely linked to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, and dedicated employees who draw upon their wide-ranging professional networks to stay on top of the latest international research.

We have a few examples that we’d like to share with you.

  • In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its first international health report on the topic of spinal cord injury, “International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury.” It was developed in collaboration with Swiss Paraplegic Research in Nottwil and a team of international experts.
  • In the summer of 2014, the Swiss Paraplegic Centre became the first rehabilitation center in Switzerland to implement exoskeletons [external covering for the body that provides both support and protection] in the rehabilitation and training of patients with spinal cord injury. Our experiences are included in an international study, and will contribute to the development of useful mobility aids for people with spinal cord injuries.

At the end of October 2016, an estimated 9,000 visitors came to Nottwil for two days of celebrations to mark five anniversaries — the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation turned 40, the Swiss Paraplegics Association was 35, the Swiss Paraplegic Centre celebrated 25 years, Swiss Paraplegic Research reached 15 years, and it was the 80th birthday of the founder and honorary president, Dr. Med. Guido A. Zäch, M.D.

What draws patients to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre?

Dr. Gmünder: We support people with spinal cord injuries throughout their lives. It is the unique, holistic approach to acute medicine, rehabilitation and lifelong medical, professional and social assistance that draws patients from Switzerland and many other countries to our clinic in Nottwil.

For example, in cases where we have individuals involved in serious accidents, the comprehensive rehabilitation of a patient with spinal cord injury begins at the scene of the accident. The aim of comprehensive assistance follows in three stages – acute, reactivation and integration phase – through the appropriate, individual deployment of specialist personnel and instruments. We rescue the individual at the scene of the accident and provide the right acute therapy. What follows is an initial rehabilitation through specialists in diagnosis, surgery, therapy and care, and then comes lifelong support and care with the aid of specialists.

Following the disproportionately high percentage of people with tetraplegia admitted to the Centre for initial rehabilitation in 2014, our specialist clinic reported a higher proportion of people with paraplegia in 2015. Spinal cord injuries resulted from an accident in around half of all initial rehabilitation cases: falls led to the spinal cord injury in the case of 43 percent of people affected, sports accidents with 35 percent and road traffic accidents in 18 percent. In fact, 52,482 nursing days were clocked for a total of 1,085 in-patients who were discharged from the clinic after initial rehabilitation or follow-up treatment in 2015.

In fact, some of our patient success stories mentioned on our web site involve these individuals:

“I was a cheesemaker for 33 years with my own dairy; gardening was my second love. That was before I had my accident helping out on my son’s farm. I need a new hobby now that I will enjoy, that will fill my time and give me something to do when I get back home. Making art out of lime wood could appeal to me. While it is difficult for me to make the small cuts in the wood as I lack strength in my hand, patience will reap rewards. My most important objective? To be able to stand on my own feet and take a few steps again. I should have achieved that by the time I am discharged from the clinic in five months.” — Josef Kobler (58), tetraplegic following an accident.

“Since being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, I come back to Nottwil a lot. For instance, to go the Wheelchair Mechanics Department to have the settings of my new wheelchair optimized. It replaces my legs and must fit my body perfectly. However, in most cases I attend the Centre for Pain Medicine of the SPC as an outpatient in order to have the extremely severe pains and muscle cramps, which I suffer from every day, alleviated. They became so severe that I had a pain pump with medication implanted at the SPC. It is apparent now that unfortunately the effect isn’t permanent. We are now giving electrostimulation a try. This involves applying electrodes to the vertebral canal. If I could finally get my pain under control, I would be able to return to work and set up my own business. That is my biggest wish. I have had an idea about what I could do.” — Hervé Brohon (41), paraplegic following an accident.

“I have always been passionate about cooking and have enjoyed treating my family and guests to my dishes and to the aperitifs that I have created myself. I absolutely want to be able to do that again. As independently as possible, of course. That is my objective. I have availed of the opportunity on a few occasions to try out the obstacle-free practice apartment and kitchen at the SPC. If I am able to go home in four weeks, my kitchen will also be adapted to be wheelchair-friendly. Whether I am cooking for two, four or six people is a much bigger consideration as a wheelchair user. I now have to consciously allow for time and effort. However, one thing is certain: I can’t wait to welcome my first guests.” — Isa Bapst (73), paraplegic following an accident.

How is the Swiss Paraplegic Centre transforming health care?

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Centre offers an integrated healthcare structure, including a wide range of medical specialists covering every aspect of medical care for those with spinal cord injuries.

In selected core disciplines for the care of people with spinal cord injuries, we also treat a large number of patients without spinal cord injuries. This relates primarily to pain medicine, spine- and spinal cord surgery and respiratory medicine.

In fact, the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, our umbrella organization, has been an unbelievable success story, operating a network of services to benefit people with spinal cord injury.

Our Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Sc. Techn. (scientiae technicarum) Daniel Joggi, knows what it’s like to become totally dependent as he has been in a wheelchair for the past four decades.

Dr. Joggi tells his story: “I have been a wheelchair user ever since I had a skiing accident 39 years ago. I know what it is like to become totally dependent from one second to the next. How doggedly you have to battle to recover as much of your mobility as possible and, more especially, to be able to live a self-determined life again after a long process of resilience. The inner resolve it takes to plot a new course in life, to have relationships with others from a different perspective and to acquire new job skills. Therefore, I am eternally grateful along with all the other people in Switzerland with paraplegia and tetraplegia for the help, support and great solidarity that allow the Foundation to deliver all the services which are so immensely valuable to us.”

At the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, a 24-hour emergency department is staffed to handle any emergency. Please provide your thoughts on this critical component of diagnosis and care for newly diagnosed patients.

Dr. Gmünder: Yes, our Centre is recognized by the Swiss Union of Surgical Societies as a specialist clinic for first-aid treatment of paraplegics.

Statistics and experience clearly show that in 80 out of 100 cases, the damage to the spine and the spinal cord is not definite immediately after an accident. In the first six hours, there are real chances to mitigate or even avoid an imminent cross-paralysis. After that it is usually too late.

In addition to transferring an individual directly to the SPC, appropriate acute care is another important criterion for the success of the individual affected by spinal cord issues. That means that individuals are in the right place for the subsequent, comprehensive rehabilitation.

The benefits for our patients are:

  • Emergency service around the clock by specialists trained to minimize damage to the spinal cord and spine;
  • Admission and treatment of all patients with paraplegia from all over Switzerland;
  • Specific knowledge and practical experience in comprehensive rehabilitation of paraplegics;
  • Comprehensive range of medical and therapeutic services under one roof;
  • Modern equipment for precise, careful diagnostics and operations;
  • Consultancy and network for external experts in areas not covered by the SPC;
  • Interdisciplinary work in well-established teams; and
  • Central location proximity and quick access from all parts of the country.

What is your connection to the Swiss Paraplegic Research and its mission of getting “strategy into research” and “research into practice?”

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPR), connected to the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, is part of the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation (SPF) and is an integral part of the Nottwil campus.

It is the mission of Swiss Paraplegic Research to sustainably improve the situation of people with paraplegia or tetraplegia through clinical and interdisciplinary research in the long-term. The areas that are aimed to be improved are functioning, social integration, equality of opportunity, health, self-determination and quality of life.

Our Swiss Paraplegic Research has been supported by the Federal Government of Switzerland and by the Canton of Lucerne for eight years as a non-university research institution. We are proud of this accomplishment.

Our main research domains are in the areas of aging, neuro-rehabilitation, musculo-skeletal health, preserving and improving function of upper limbs, pain, pressure sores, respiration, urology and orthopedics.

The goal of Swiss Paraplegic Research is to promote the study of health from a holistic point of view, by focusing on the ‘lived experience’ of persons with health conditions and their interaction with society. We are, therefore, establishing a research network for rehabilitation research from a comprehensive perspective on a national and international level. This network will make it possible to practically apply the latest research findings to provide the best possible care and reintegration for people with paraplegia or tetraplegia.

This year, we received the approval of 18 new research projects and we had a total of 36 studies in progress under review, undertaken by and with the involvement of the Clinical Trial Unit (CTU), the department for clinical research at the Centre. For example, the successful implementation of a multi-center study on the use of walking robots (exoskeleton) merits special mention. Research was carried out in that study into the wide range of effects of maintaining movement for people with spinal cord injury.

The CTU will continue to carry out research in Rehabilitation Engineering in a cooperation with Burgdorf University of Applied Science and the research group headed by Professor Kenneth Hunt. The “Life and Care” symposium on breathing and respiration organized by the CTU provided a platform for an international knowledge exchange with national and international experts. This is crucial for further scientific development in respiratory medicine. In 2015, the CTU also launched the CTU Central Switzerland, in association with Lucerne Cantonal Hospital and the University of Lucerne. It supports clinics which are actively engaged in research with specific services, thereby enhancing Switzerland’s standing as a center of research.

How does the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation support your vision?

Dr. Gmünder: The Swiss Paraplegic Group includes the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, which was established in 1975, two partner organizations — the Benefactors’ Association and the Swiss Paraplegics Association, and six companies owned by the Foundation. Those six companies are the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, the Swiss Paraplegic Research, Orthotec AG, ParaHelp AG, Sirmed Swiss Institute of Emergency Medicine AG, Seminarhotel Sempachersee AG.

The Swiss Paraplegic Foundation, founded by Dr. Med. Guido A. Zäch in 1975, is a solidarity network for people with spinal cord injuries, unrivaled anywhere in the world. Its work is based on the vision of medical care and comprehensive rehabilitation for people with paraplegia and tetraplegia, with a view towards enabling them to lead their lives with self-determination and with as much independence as possible, supported by the latest advances in science and technology.

The unique network of services of the Foundation is a strategic mix of Solidarity, Research, Medicine and Integration and Lifelong Assistance. Let me elaborate on these services.

  • Solidarity
    • The Foundation provides a comprehensive range of services for every area of a person’s life who has a spinal cord injury. The Nottwil campus serves to be a center of excellence for integration, assistance and lifelong learning for our patients.
    • The Foundation ensures that its benefactors and donors are aware of our list of services and can support us longer term.
    • The Foundation establishes a national and international network that will guarantee better basic conditions for people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation encourages training of specialized personnel in the field of spinal cord injury.
  • Research
    • The Foundation contributes to the sustainable improvement of health, social integration, equal opportunities and self-determination of people with spinal cord injury by carrying out rehabilitation research.
    • The Foundation works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and encourages exchanges with universities and institutions locally and globally for the latest scientific findings and conducts academic training at the University of Lucerne.
    • The Foundation develops high-quality care standards for its patients.
  • Medicine
    • The Foundation offers all medical services needed for professional acute care and rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury and encourages patients to become involved in their therapy and to take responsibility for their lives.
    • The Foundation strengthens relationships with partners in specific disciplines and local institutions to benefit people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation is a member of committees with political influence to ensure that its patients receive highly specialized medical care.
  • Integration and Lifelong Assistance
    • The Foundation establishes a network throughout Switzerland to help people with spinal cord injury.
    • The Foundation offers comprehensive services to meet people’s needs to improve their integration into society.
    • The Foundation encourages people with spinal cord injury to lead an independent life and educate family and friends so they can provide the necessary support.

Moreover, in cases of hardship, the Foundation makes contributions towards the cost of walking aids, equipment and amenities for people with paraplegia and tetraplegia. It also takes on uncovered hospital and care costs.

 Current market research shows that the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation ranks among the three most highly rated aid organizations in Switzerland. Can you please elaborate on why?

Dr. Gmünder: That is true. The Foundation is highly rated in terms of goodwill, innovation, competence and effectiveness. In addition, it is regarded as undoubtedly the most competent organization representing people with disabilities in Switzerland, according to several market research surveys.

So that we can continue to meet the demand for our patients, families and other visitors, plans are under way to upgrade our clinic and hotel on our premises.

We generally have interest from visitors to visit our Centre. Our guided tours and events enabled the general public to see how the foundation concept is put into practice, day in, day out. In Nottwil, 160 guides provided more than 11,000 visitors with a glimpse into the operations at our specialist clinic.

Additionally, we organized more than 5,000 scientific meetings attended by more than 170,000 people in 2015. And our wheelchair athletes take part in two major competitions, the IPC Athletics Grand Prix and the UCI Para-cycling World Championships, at our Nottwil site. It is our hope to continue to motivate individuals with spinal cord injuries to be involved in healthy exercise.

Since you became Hospital Director, how have you changed the way that you deliver health care or interact with patients?

Dr. Gmünder: It is important to me that the patients and their needs are the focus of our efforts. As such, one of my main tasks is to align our processes with our patients.

Here are some examples:

We started construction with a newly expanded Intensive Care Medicine, Pain Medicine and Surgical Medicine department last year to provide patients with an expanded variety of cross-linked treatments.

Certified as a nationwide trauma center, our Swiss Spinal Column and Spinal Cord Centre has become increasingly recognized throughout the country with large numbers of non-paralyzed patients, who have severe spinal cord injury, being referred to our facility. It is under the medical leadership of the Head of Department Dr. Med. Martin Baur, M.D. This highly specialized acute care facility recently received certification as a specialist center for traumatology within the Central Swiss Trauma Network.

We believe in developing the next generation of professionals and our Department of Anesthesia was recognized as a center of further training; the first two junior doctors have been appointed and postgraduate courses in anesthesia nursing are already available.

Our Swiss Weaning Centre, where individuals learn to breathe without a machine, has brought specialists from Intensive Care Medicine, Speech Therapy, RespiCare and Spinal Cord Medicine even closer together in a new process structure for respiratory medicine. At the same time, the Swiss Weaning Centre reported increased referrals from university hospitals and private clinics, as well as numerous successes with patients who had proved to be difficult to wean from respiratory equipment.

Our Centre for Pain Medicine, one of the largest pain facilities in the country, reported a further increase in inpatient treatments. Epiduroscopy, which was introduced in 2014, has proved to be a success. It is a percutaneous, minimally invasive procedure which is used in the diagnosis and treatment of pain syndromes near the spinal cord.

We reached a milestone in tetra hand surgery. The team of our doctors has been consulting at two other spinal cord injury centers and have used these occasions to show doctors around the country what possibilities there are for improved hand and grip functions, leading to an enhanced quality of life.

In what ways do you rehabilitate the whole patient? Why is this important early on in treatment?

Dr. Gmünder: In accordance with our vision, we are not just focusing on physical rehabilitation but on the entire person in their social environment (leisure, work, housing, mobility). Due to our broad organizational structure, we have many resources at our disposal. The rate of reintegration for people who did their primary rehabilitation at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre is almost 65 percent – one of the highest in the world.

Because we work to address diagnosis, treatment and management of traumatic spinal cord injuries with our patients, we take great care in working with patients on their medical disabilities, physical disabilities, psychological disabilities, vocational disabilities, social aspects and any health complications. That means that we not only treat patient’s medically, but also we treat them through therapy and complementary medicine, such as art therapy, sports and water therapy and homeopathic medicine.

At the SPC, we nurture a culture which is characterized by common values and shared objectives, namely commitment, leadership, a humane approach, cooperation and openness and fairness in our dealing with one another and with our patients.

As you follow patients throughout their rehabilitation and treatment, what are you most proud of at the Centre? 

Dr. Gmünder: Research has shown that early referral of a patient with a traumatic spinal injury lessens the complications, shortens the length of time in the hospital and is, therefore, more cost-effective.

We are confronted by individuals every day whose abilities have been limited by disease, trauma, congenital disorders or pain – and we are focused on enabling them to achieve their maximum functional abilities. Our patients have a better outcome and quality of life, patient-focused treatment, ongoing case management, and lifelong care.

It’s important to emphasize that our comprehensive rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injuries begins on the first day after the accident or trauma. On one hand, the medical treatments with paraplegia or tetraplegia are performed by a multidisciplinary medical team. And on the other hand, it is our goal to give those individuals their personality and life structure as quickly – and as best – as possible. An individual’s medical condition affects their psychological, physical and social aspects of life.

We focus on individualized treatment for the greatest possible independence for our patients. When patients are satisfied with our work and its results, they can resume a self-determined life. That is our greatest joy.

Hans Peter Gmuender

Image SOURCE: Photograph of Hospital Director Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., courtesy of Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, Switzerland.

Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D.
Hospital Director

Hans Peter Gmünder, M.D., assumed the role of Hospital Director of the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in 2011.  He is a German-Belgian double citizen.

Previously, Dr. Gmünder was Chief Physician and Medical Director of the Rehaklinik Bellikon, a rehabilitation and specialist clinic for traumatic acute rehabilitation, sports medicine, professional integration and medical expertise for 10 years in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland. He began his career at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in the 1990s as Assistant and Senior Physician, and later as Chief Physician and Deputy Chief Physician.

He completed a B.S. degree in Business Administration at SRH FernHochschule Riedlingen in 2010 and an M.D. degree at Freie Universität Berlin in 1987.

He is married to Sabeth and is the father of two children.

 

Editor’s note:

We would like to thank Claudia Merkel, head of public relations, Swiss Paraplegic Centre,  for the help and support she provided during this interview.

 

REFERENCE/SOURCE

The Swiss Paraplegic Centre (http:// www.paraplegie.ch), Nottwil, Switzerland.

Choosing the right rehabilitation facility is one of the most important decisions a survivor of a brain or spinal cord injury will make as the type and quality of care will have a significant impact on the patient’s long-term outcome. The top 10 rehabilitation centers in the United States are (http://www.brainandspinalcord.org/2016/04/15/top-ten-rehabilitation-hospitals-usa/):

  1. Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
  2. TIRR Memorial Hermann
  3. Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
  4. University of Washington Medical Center
  5. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital
  6. Mayo Clinic
  7. Craig Hospital
  8. Shepard Center
  9. Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center
  10. Moss Rehab

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (https://www.sralab.org/new-ric), located in Chicago, Illinois, has been ranked as the number one rehabilitation hospital in the United States for the past 24 years by U.S. News and World Report. It is a 182-bed research facility that focuses solely on rehabilitation in many areas, including spinal cord, brain, nerve, muscle and bone, cancer and pediatric. For example, the rehabilitation course for patients with spinal cord injury requires precise medical and nursing expertise, respiratory and pulmonary care and sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. For several years, the hospital has dedicated investments in talent, space and equipment that attract a high volume of patients with challenging conditions. The high volume, diversity of condition and greater complexity enables them to expand their experience in helping patients recover from spinal cord injury. Primary goals for patients include the emergence of meaningful motor function, sensation, coordination and endurance, resolution of respiratory and vascular instability, and overall continued medical recovery from the injury or disease.

The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston (http://spauldingrehab.org/about/facts-statistics) is ranked number five in the country by U.S. News and World Report and number one in New England.  As a unique center of treatment excellence and a leading physical medicine and rehabilitation research institution, Spaulding Boston is comprised of major departments in all areas of medicine requiring rehabilitation. They are a nationally recognized leader in innovation, research and education.  The facility also has been the source of significant treatment innovations with dramatic implications for a range of conditions, including amputation and limb deficiencies, brain injury, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary rehabilitation and spinal cord injuries, to name a few. http://spauldingrehab.org/conditions-and-treatments/list.

Whether individuals are adjusting to a life-altering illness or recovering from a back injury, they will find the care they need within the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.  Rehabilitation specialists have the training, experience, resources and dedication to help individuals:

  • Regain function after a devastating illness or injury,
  • Develop skills to be active and independent when living with chronic illness and/or disability,
  • Recover from surgery, work and sports injuries, and
  • Grow to the fullest physical, emotional, cognitive and social potential. http://spauldingrehab.org/conditions-and-treatments/

The ACGME accredited Harvard Medical School/ Spaulding/ VA Boston Fellowship Program in  Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Medicine is a 12-month training program that offers advanced clinical training in SCI, a strong didactic component, and opportunities for research with protected elective time.  The curriculum is designed to provide exposure to the full spectrum of SCI care and includes rotations at VA Boston, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Brigham & Woman’s Hospital. Requirements include prior completion of an approved residency program in a specialty such as physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, internal medicine, family practice, surgery, or other specialties relevant to spinal cord injury.  http://spauldingrehab.org/education-and-training/spinal-cord-fellowship.

Specifically, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is at the forefront of innovative treatment for major disabling conditions, including spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), other traumatic injuries, stroke, and neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease. At Spaulding, the treatment goals go far beyond immediate rehabilitation to address long-term health and function, as well as giving patients encouragement and hope as they return to their lives in the community.

The hub of their spinal cord injury program is the Spaulding-Harvard Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) Rehabilitation Program, led by experts at Spaulding Boston, a Center of Excellence in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. With the guidance of their  physicians and other rehabilitation specialists and access to some of the most advanced technologies available today, their patients have the resources to strive for their highest level of neurorecovery – and to develop successful, enriching strategies for independent living.

When potentially life-altering spinal cord injury occurs, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network clinicians are dedicated to pioneering improved therapies that can make all the difference to a patient’s immediate and long-term recovery. Their goal is to support a patient’s return to an active, productive and fulfilling life.

Whether the spinal cord injury is due to traumatic injury or illness, their team of experts will develop a treatment plan in collaboration with the patient and family. Depending on the severity of the injury, their teams work on improving function in: walking, balance and mobility; speech, swallowing and breathing; thinking (cognition), behavior and safety; dressing, bathing and other activities of daily living; incontinence, bowel and bladder function.

Their commitment is to offer a full spectrum of rehabilitation services for adults and children with spinal cord injury:

  • Intensive, hospital-level rehabilitation with goal-directed therapy 3 – 5 hours a day, at least 5 days a week for inpatients.
  • Long-term care and rehabilitation for patients with complicating conditions.
  • Cutting-edge spinal cord injury technologies and therapeutic techniques.
  • Emphasis on family participation throughout the course of care. with an inpatient comprehensive training and education series.
  • Seamless transition to multi-disciplinary outpatient rehabilitation.
  • Coordination of care with Spaulding’s outpatient centers.
  • Vocational training, participation in research, support groups.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network is the official teaching partner of the Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). The Spaulding network’s facilities are members of Partners HealthCare, founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The knowledge and expertise of this entire healthcare system is available to patients and caregivers. Their continuum of superb healthcare ensures that patients will find the care they need throughout their journey and the strength they need to live their life to the fullest.

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Other related articles were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

2016

Use of Sensors, Data and Devices to improve Health, San Francisco, April 5-6, 2016: Wearable Tech + Digital Health Conferences

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/25/use-of-sensors-data-and-devices-to-improve-health-san-francisco-april-5-6-2016-wearable-tech-digital-health-conferences/

2015

New Spinal Cord Repair Strategy using 3D Cell Growth

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/10/31/new-spinal-cord-repair-strategy-using-3d-cell-growth/

Unsupervised, Mobile and Wireless Brain–Computer Interfaces on the Horizon

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/11/21/unsupervised-mobile-and-wireless-brain-computer-interfaces-on-the-horizon/

Diffuse optics detects spinal cord ischemia – Optics.org

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/05/07/diffuse-optics-detects-spinal-cord-ischemia-optics-org/

Essential for Rehabilitation

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/12/03/essential-for-rehabilitation/

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Chan-Zuckerberg (CZ) Biohub Selects Researchers to Receive $50 Million to Fight Disease & consortium aimed at immunotherapy research

 

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

 

02/10/2017 – 4:33pm

 

Selecting the Candidates

It wasn’t easy to narrow down the applicant pool, according to Quake.

“Over 750 people submitted a three-page application proposing risky but innovative ideas. In return, we’d provide them with the funding to work on their ideas in an unrestricted capacity,” said Quake regarding the application process.

A panel comprised of 60 prominent engineers and scientists sifted through the applications that came from the three universities. Submissions came from a diverse array of departments, including computer science, engineering and mathematics before settling on the final 47 participants.

“It’s a phenomenal gathering of talent working on issues like using computer science to help understand human health through the use of wearables,” added Quake.

One notable member of this program is Jure Leskovec, Ph.D., who is a computer scientist at Stanford and the chief scientist at Pinterest. His work at the biohub will focus on using data to help biologists comprehend the interactions between the genes and proteins exposed to drugs or disease, according to Nature.

Other investigators include Ada Poon, Ph.D., hailing from Stanford who is studying new techniques for miniaturing bioelectronics devices, and Markita Landry, Ph.D., who is working on nanosensor technology and near infrared imaging platforms designed to visualize neurotransmitters in the brain.

The CZ Biohub will institute policies that enable quick dissemination of research papers through pre-print servers. This will help inform other researchers of their work and expedite the discovery process.

Next Steps

Investigators will gain a five-year appointment and up to $1.5 million in funding to kick start their research projects.

There are other research institutes forming in Silicon Valley, but with slightly different approaches. Sean Parker, the entrepreneur behind notorious music-sharing service Napster, launched a consortium aimed at immunotherapy research as well as a separate operation geared towards allergy research.

However, Quake said the Biohub concept appeals to a lot of researchers.

“There’s only a small number of faculty positions available each year and not everyone wants to teach, so we want the Biohub to be an alternate career path for researchers who love science,” he said.

http://www.rdmag.com/article/2017/02/chan-zuckerberg-biohub-selects-researchers-receive-50-million-fight-disease?et_cid=5825577&et_rid=461755519&type=cta&et_cid=5825577&et_rid=461755519&linkid=content

 

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Runway: a unique startup incubator in NYC – JACOBS TECHNION-CORNELL INSTITUTE  @CORNELL TECH

 

Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute

campus-view-from-manhattan-aerial

 

Author: Shuli (Shoulamit) C. Shwartz, PhD

Entrepreneur in Residence, CornellTech, NYC

Co-managing Runway Startup Postdoc  program

Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute

 

The Runway  is a 1-3 years tech incubator in the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at CornellTech. It is an innovative hybrid of a postdoc educational program and a startup incubator, highly competitive, providing PhD graduates with a supportive environment that includes

  • funding,
  • high level mentoring in technology,
  • business and entrepreneurship,
  • space and more. 

Application is now open for 2017 Fall’s cohort. 

More details are available here.

 

Shuli (Shoulamit) C. Shwartz, PhD

Entrepreneur in Residence, CornellTech, NYC

Co-managing Runway Startup Postdoc  program

Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute

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US-based Foundations interested in supporting Scientific Research and Education

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

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