Partnership to strengthen SA spinal cord injury research

South Australia’s most prominent spinal cord injury (SCI) research unit is forging even stronger bonds with the state’s preeminent spinal services unit, focused on improving the lives of those who experience an SCI.

The Neil Sachse Centre for SCI Research at SAHMRI and the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combine their resources and expertise.

The NSC brings cutting edge SCI benchtop, preclinical and imaging research to the collaboration, while CALHN provides acute spinal cord injury treatment at both the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) Spinal Unit and spinal rehabilitation services at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre.

SAHMRI Executive Director Professor Steve Wesselingh says these closer ties between clinical care and research can accelerate research discovery.

“Collaboration is key to powering research that will lead to significant breakthroughs,” he said.

“This partnership builds critical mass to accelerate SCI research, with a view to applying research knowledge in clinical practice, expanding global networks and attracting leading research talent to work on state-based programs.”

More than 20,000 Australians currently live with an SCI, with more than 250 new cases of spinal injury each year.

The cost to the national economy is estimated at around $3.7 billion annually while the life-altering condition brings substantial socioeconomic implications for patients and their caregivers.

“With a united front and pooled resources, we can raise the increase public awareness of SCI and its potentially devastating impacts,” Professor Wesselingh said.

CALHN Chief Executive Officer, Professor Lesley Dwyer, says as a research–informed leading healthcare provider, CALHN is committed to partnerships focused on discovery and interrogation.

“We look forward to the transformative research that will arise from this partnership as well as supporting researchers to translate their cutting-edge research outcomes into a clinical setting for the benefit of the community,” she said.

“CALHN is looking forward to leveraging this collaboration to provide the latest in world-class SCI research and treatment innovations directly to patients.

“The benefits of this collaboration to those living with SCI will be significant. We are proud to provide the world-class environment and infrastructure that will contribute to improved health outcomes, not just for those with SCI locally, but across the world.”

Pictured L-R Sarah Boucaut Director Neil Sacshe Centre, Mr Y H Yau Acting Head of Spinal Unit RAH, Raymond Spencer, Chair SAHMRI and CAHLN, Lesley Dwyer CEO CAHLN, Prof Steve Wesselingh Executive Director SAHMRI.