Birmingham VA Medical Center
Marcalee Sipski Alexander graduated Jefferson Medical College in 1983 and completed her residency in PM&R there. She has spent most of her career working in SCI and was the first female president of ASIA. She has published over 125 peer reviewed manuscripts and has served as the editor of the journal Spinal Cord Series and Cases since 2017.
Throughout most of her career, her research has focused on sexuality and SCI and she is known for her laboratory-based research outlining the impact of specific neurologic injuries on sexual response. She is the author of the publication for consumers: Sexual Sustainability, A Guide to Having a Great Sex Life with a Spinal Cord Disorder. Dr. Alexander is also a leader in telerehabilitation and runs a sexuality telehealth clinic at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Dr. Alexander took a hiatus from the full-time practice of rehabilitation to bring attention to the impact of climate change on persons with disabilities. She began a walk from Canada to Key West to bring attention to the issues of persons of disabilities in disasters and climate change and educate both professionals and communities. During this time, she developed the concept of Day for Tomorrow, a day when people can come together in community to prepare for disasters and climate change. She is currently organizing a summit with leaders from the climate change field called Sustain Our Abilities and an on-line visual anthology with the same name. The vision is to create awareness, a research agenda and to foster collaborative actions. Dr. Alexander also started a nonprofit called Telerehabilitation International, with a mission to bring attention to climate change and disability and to use telemedicine to start a volunteer network of physiatrists to provide consults for persons with disabilities in areas of disaster relief. More information can be found at telerehabinternational.org.
Toronto Western Hospital
Dr. Fehlings is the Vice Chair Research for the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and Head of the Spinal Program at Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network. Dr. Fehlings is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, holds the Gerry and Tootsie Halbert Chair in Neural Repair and Regeneration, is a Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and a McLaughlin Scholar in Molecular Medicine. In the fall of 2008, Dr. Fehlings was appointed the inaugural Director of the University of Toronto Neuroscience Program (which he held until June 2012) and is currently Co-Director of the University of Toronto Spine Program. Dr. Fehlings combines an active clinical practice in complex spinal surgery with a translationally oriented research program focused on discovering novel treatments to improve functional outcomes following spinal cord injury (SCI). He has published over 850 peer-reviewed articles (h- index 85) chiefly in the area of central nervous system injury and complex spinal surgery. His seminal 1991 paper, cited over 1400 times, outlined the severe and lasting consequences of SCI due to a cascade of secondary injury mechanisms following the initial trauma. His research on secondary injury mechanisms ultimately led to the commencement of the multicenter, international Surgical Timing in Acute Spinal Cord Injury Study (STASCIS), aimed at establishing the need for early surgical decompression to prevent the negative effects of the secondary injury cascade. The results from this study, led by Dr. Fehlings and published in 2012, demonstrated the critical importance of early surgical decompression.
Dr. Michael Fehlings has received numerous prestigious awards including the Gold Medal in Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (1996), nomination to the Who’s Who list of the 1000 most influential scientists of the 21st century (2001), the Lister Award in Surgical Research (2006), the Leon Wiltse Award from the North American Spine Society for excellence in leadership and/or clinical research in spine care (2009), the Olivecrona Award (2009) -- the top award internationally for neurosurgeons and neuroscientists awarded by the Nobel Institute at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm for his important contributions in CNS injury repair and regeneration, the Reeve-Irvine Research Medal in Spinal Cord Injury (2012), the Golden Axon Leadership Award (2012), the Mac Keith Basic Science Lectureship Award for significant contributions to the basic science of cerebral palsy and childhood onset disabilities (2012), and was the Mayfield Lecturer (2012). In 2012, Dr. Fehlings served as the 40th President of the Cervical Spine Research Society (CSRS) -- the only Canadian to do so -- and was honoured with the CSRS Presidential Medallion for outstanding leadership and contributions to cervical spine research. In 2013, Dr. Fehlings was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal presented to him by the Honourable Stephen Harper, the H. Richard Winn Prize from the Society of Neurological Surgeons, the Jonas Salk Award for Scientific Achievements from the March of Dimes Canada and the Henry Farfan Award from the North American Spine Society. In 2014, Dr. Fehlings was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada and to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and in 2016 won the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Mentor of the Year Award.
Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation
Truly an East-coaster, and never far from water, Colleen completed medical school at Memorial University of Newfoundland and residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Dalhousie University, Canada. She specializes in neuro-rehabilitation, and is Research Chief at New Brunswick’s Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, and is the Clinical Research Director of University of New Brunswick Institute of Biomedical Engineering. Despite no medical school in Fredericton, she holds appointments at Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine and the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Kinesiology. Believing in the strength of collaboration, or perhaps having difficulty saying no, she is a member of many networks: Canadian ALS Research Network, Praxis Institute, Canadian SCI Knowledge Mobilization Network, Canadian Neurologic Diseases Network, Canadian Neuropulmonary Consortium, Atlantic Mobility Action Project, Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids. Research interests and outputs are broad, and generally reflect tendency to being an early adopter, so include treatments and applied technologies for mobility impairment and function, as well as pain and spasticity management. Development of best practice recommendations are priorities, and she contributes as member of the PVA SCI Guidelines Consortium, Heart and Stroke’s Best Practices Advisory Committee, MS BEST guidelines group, ALS Canada Best Practice Recommendations Working Group and and the Canadian Home Mechanical Ventilation Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee.
Dr. O’Connell has been involved in cannabinoid education and research for 20 years; she is a founding member of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (est 2000), and is recognized internationally for her expertise in cannabinoids in clinical practice, has conducted numerous workshops and lectures nationally and internationally on cannabinoids in pain, spasticity, neurologic disease (ALS, Spinal Cord Injury, MS), and in end of life care. She currently is investigating use of cannabinoids in symptom management in ALS, with grant support from ALS Canada, and was a researcher on the COMPASS project (published 2015) on the safety of cannabis use in treating chronic pain, funded by Health Canada.
International health work predates medical training. With few options for rehabilitation professionals to contribute through established organizations, along with husband Jeff Campbell she founded Team Canada Healing Hands in 2002, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing rehabilitation care and training in developing countries. She has had opportunity to work in areas of rehabilitation care delivery, training, and research in Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, and in disaster response in Haiti and Nepal. She is a member of the International Spinal Cord Society External Relations Committee and the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine Disaster Committee. She has co-authored numerous publications on and provided technical guidance to the World Health Organization on rehabilitation in the humanitarian field.
She is a hockey mom of her teenage sons Sam and Vénel. In another life, she would have been an adventure travel agent.
University Hospitals Cleveland
Dr Raymond P. Onders is Chief of General Surgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He is honored with the Walter and Margaret Remen Chair of Surgical Innovation. Over the last 20 years, he has focused his research efforts on ways to help people breathe naturally using their own diaphragm. He has authored multiple publications and book chapters on the primary muscle of breathing –the diaphragm. He has trained surgeons around the world on the technique of diaphragm pacing to allow patients freedom from tracheostomy mechanical ventilation.
Diaphragm pacing, electrical stimulation of the diaphragm muscle, is a technology aimed at either replacing or delaying the need for mechanical ventilation or maintaining and improving normal breathing. One of his first research subjects was the late Christopher Reeve (Superman). Diaphragm pacing technology was recognized as one of the most important medical innovations at the 6th Medical Innovation Summit. His advancements in the technology of pacing the diaphragm have led to multiple patents. He co-founded the medical device company Synapse Biomedical which helped to bring this technology to patients.
He has given invited lectures around the world and presented his research at numerous scientific meetings. He has helped spread this knowledge training surgeons to do the diaphragm pacing operation in over 30 countries which has helped countless patients worldwide. His present research focuses on using diaphragm pacing to shorten the time to wean from a ventilator on all intensive care unit patients which is one of the largest health care expenditures in the United States. With the possibility of a shortage of ventilators early in the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked and obtained emergency use authorization by the FDA of the new temporary pacing system in April of 2020. This has led to multiple new applications of the use of temporary diaphragm pacing wires to decrease ventilator times.
Rick Acland worked for over 20 years in the management of spinal cord dysfunction, both at the Burwood and Auckland Units. He has always had a keen interest in pain, dating back to his time in anesthesia. He has been a strong advocate for the use of cannabinoids in symptom management: in particular, he maintains a keen interest in the lived experience of cannabis users in SCI. He will provide an overview of the vagaries and conflicts in cannabinoid prescription.
University of Sydney
Professor Lisa Harvey (PhD) has 20 years clinical experience in spinal cord injuries. She currently holds an academic position at Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sydney where she teaches, runs her own research program and supervises PhD students. Most of her research focuses on putting an evidence base to widely administered physiotherapy interventions. She is currently principal investigator on some large multi-centered clinical trials being run in Australia and Asia. She teaches widely both nationally and internationally, and is Editor-in-Chief of Spinal Cord.
The University of Auckland
Julian Paton was born in Somerset, England, and educated at the University of Birmingham (BSc, 1984) and the University of London (PhD, 1987). Post-doctoral training was at the Royal Free Hospital, London, EI Dupont de Nemours (USA), University of Washington, Seattle, USA, and as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Göttingen, Germany.
In 1994, he was awarded a British Heart Foundation Fellowship which he took up at the University of Bristol and was awarded his Chair in Cardiovascular Physiology in 2001.
In 2017, he moved is laboratory to the Department of Physiology, University of Auckland, New Zealand where he currently directs a multi-disciplinary translational research programme involving basic and clinical scientists with the aim of finding novel clinical therapeutic approaches for cardiovascular diseases. He has published 316 original papers and 83 reviews on central nervous regulation of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems in health and disease; his h-index is 67.
He became the Director of Manaaki Manawa, The Centre for Heart Research in 2019, and in 2021 the co-Director of the Healthy Hearts for Aotearoa New Zealand, Centre of Research Excellence – a national united effort to address equity in heart health through research.
He is the recipient of: the Sharpey-Schafer Prize of the Physiological Society (1990), the Carl Ludwig Prize Lecture of the American Physiological Society (2005) and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit award (2006), Peter Baker Annual Lecture, Kings College, London (2011), the Hood Fellowship at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (2011),the McIntyre Prize & Lecture, Univ Nebraska, Omaha, USA (2018) and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2021.
Notable plenary lectures were presented at the Council for High Blood Pressure (AHA), Orlando, USA (2011), International Society for Hypertension, Sydney, Australia (2012), the Inaugural Pan-American meeting, Brazil (2014), International Union of Physiological Sciences, Rio de Janiero, Brazil (2017), Asian Pacific Congress of Hypertension, Brisbane, Australia (2018), American Autonomic Society, Maui, Hawaii (2021) and Mechanisms of Vasodilatation Symposium, Hong Kong (2021).
He has sat on the project grant review committee for the British Heart Foundation and was the Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Physiology.He is an editor for the journal Hypertension. He holds honorary professorial positions at The William Harvey Institute, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and the Department of Physiology, University of Belgrade, Serbia.
In 1977 during his fifth form year, at the age of 15, Grant broke his neck as the result of a rugby injury. Although he originally wanted to be a pilot and was in the top educational stream, he was compelled to abandon any hope of flying as a result of becoming a Tetraplegic. He continued his education through correspondence school obtaining University Entrance qualifications in five subjects including Art History, though still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life.
Having spent eleven years at the Otara Spinal Unit in Bairds road, he moved into the community in 1988. Two years laters, in 1990, he married Jenny Anderson, a nurse he met while in the Spinal Unit. They have built a home, Mollybean Manor, located in Waiau Pa, near Pukekohe, where they live and work enjoying life in a friendly rural community.
In 1980, at the suggestion of well-known mouth painter, Bruce Hopkins, and encouraged by his father, Grant tried painting using a brush in his mouth.
His first six paintings submitted to the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) were rejected, but in 1981 Grant was awarded a stipend from the Association that is well known for the greeting cards and calendars its artists produce. In 1988 he was made a full member of the Association and as such has travelled to many parts of the world. In 2017, at the 65th Anniversary of the Association, he was elected on to the International Board.
In his own words, ‘Despite over 40 years in a wheelchair, I've led a very full life and have been privileged to do a number of things, travelled to many destinations around the world and generally ticked off quite a few things on my bucket list and I'm not finished yet!’.