Department of Defense Gives $5.4 Million to Spinal Cord Injury Research


The United States Department of Defense (DoD) awarded the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation a $5.4 million grant to support the expansion of translational research to find treatments for military men and women with spinal cord injuries.

The DoD gave the two-year, peer-reviewed grant to the Foundation’s North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN), an international network of hospitals led by Dr Robert G Grossman, chairman of neurosurgery at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston and one of the network’s principal investigators.


“Our goal is to bring effective treatments from the lab to the servicemen and women on our frontlines,” Grossman said. “With the DoD’s and the Reeve Foundation’s support, our network can conduct more high-quality trials that we hope will result in viable therapies for spinal cord injury patients.”


NACTN gathers and documents patient medical information in a data registry to better understand the body’s natural course of recovery after injury. The participating hospitals adhere to standardised patient assessment protocols, helping to develop new ones and also conducting new trials of therapy for spinal cord injury. The network recently began its first clinical trial, enrolling the first patient in April into its Riluzole Phase I safety study on the neuroprotective drug’s role in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.


NACTN, launched by the Reeve Foundation in 2006, originally had six centres in North America, since expanded to nine clinical sites. The new DoD award will enable NACTN to bring several new military hospitals into a network that also includes a data management centre and a pharmacology centre.


“Spinal cord injuries can be devastating and this DoD award affords us the opportunity to test promising interventions in clinical trials and identify effective treatments for spinal cord patients throughout the world,” said Susan Howley, the Reeve Foundation’s executive vice president for research.