Program Advisory Committee

Graham Creasey, MD, FRCSEd (Chair)
Stanford University

Dr. Graham Creasey received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in Britain and qualified in surgery through the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh with training in war injuries in Zimbabwe. Since then, he has sub-specialized in spinal cord injuries with a particular interest in restoration of function after paralysis using biomedical engineering and biotechnology.

Dr. Creasey’s research interests focus on neural prostheses for restoring bladder, bowel and sexual function after spinal cord injury, in addition to other applications of connecting electronic systems to nervous systems. As clinical director of the Stanford Partnership for Spinal Cord Injury and Repair he is also developing the infrastructure and resources for multi-center clinical trials of neuroprotection and implantation of stem cells after spinal cord injury. Dr. Graham Creasey is a member of RHI’s Board of Directors.

Kim Anderson-Erisman, PhD
The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

Dr. Kim Anderson-Erisman’s research focuses on translational investigations and bridging the gap between basic science, clinical science, and the public community living with SCI. She recently completed a multi-center clinical study evaluating the reliability and validity of the Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM) in the US healthcare setting and is currently focusing on issues specific to chronic injury.

A special perspective that Dr. Anderson-Erisman brings to the SCI research field is that she also has a spinal cord injury. When Dr. Anderson-Erisman was seventeen years old, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident that left her with quadriplegic paralysis from a cervical spinal cord injury. After graduating from high school without delay, she went on to college at Texas A&M University and graduate school at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Anderson-Erisman has received numerous awards, including the Khatali Award for Outstanding Senior Graduate Student, a NIH National Research Service Award as a post-doctoral fellow, and the Paul H. Silverman Award for Outstanding Work on Science and Ethics in 2005. Dr. Anderson-Erisman was awarded the Stephen Aroff Memorial Award in 2004 and the Jerry Stein Independent Living Award in 2006 for being a role model in the SCI community. Dr. Anderson-Erisman was inducted into the SCI Hall of Fame in 2007.

Naomi Kleitman, PhD
Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

Dr. Naomi Kleitman serves as the Senior Vice President of Grants and Research at the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, overseeing the Foundation’s research portfolios, as well as providing strategic guidance on all grant programs for the organization.

From 2001-2012, Naomi served as a Program Director at the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, administering a portfolio of grants and contracts in spinal cord injury research aimed at developing successful strategies for nervous system repair and restoration of function. She also focused on translation of fundamental research on spinal cord and peripheral neural repair into clinical studies that apply these basic principles, and the development of rigorous standards for preclinical and translational SCI research. Naomi has participated on numerous NIH and interagency groups, as a Federal Liaison to SCI research programs at the Departments of Defense, Veterans Administration and several non-federal agencies, and was co-lead for the NIH/NINDS-FDA/CBER working group.

Naomi received a PhD in neural and behavioral biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and did postdoctoral work at Washington University, St. Louis.

Brian K. Kwon, MD, PhD, FRCSC
University of British Columbia

Dr. Kwon is a surgeon-scientist with advanced training in spine surgery and also a PhD in neuroscience. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia. As an attending orthopaedic spine surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital, his practice is focused on the management of adult spine trauma, spinal cord injuries, and non-traumatic conditions such as spine infection, deformity, and degeneration. As a neuroscientist and Principal Investigator at ICORD, Dr. Kwon runs an active basic/translational research laboratory.

Dr. Kwon’s primary research interest is in spinal cord injury. During his residency, he met many young patients on the spinal cord unit whose lives had been devastated by SCI; this motivated him to pursue a career in spine surgery and a PhD in neuroscience.  Now, as a surgeon-scientist, his research interests in SCI span the translational continuum from basic bench research all the way to clinical trials. His research program is best characterized by “bedside back to bench” and “bench to bedside” bi-directional translation. Dr. Kwon is chair of RHI’s Cure Advisory Committee and a member of the Care Advisory Committee.

Lisa McKerracher, PhD
BioAxone BioSciences Inc.

Dr. Lisa McKerracher is the Founder and CEO of BioAxone BioSciences, and is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in company start-up, preclinical research and clinical development. Dr. McKerracher created BioAxone in 2011, after acquiring all rights to a Phase II biologic drug to treat spinal cord injury. Dr. McKerracher is past CEO of Emerillon Therapeutic, a genomics company, VP at ReGen Nautic, a clean-tech company, and CSO at her first spin-out company. Dr. McKerracher is a recognized leader in regenerative medicine and translational neuroscience, and was a co-recipient of the Christopher Reeve Research Medal for Spinal Cord Repair in 2000 with Dr. Albert Aguayo. She has 15 years of experience in academic research and left a tenured position to pursue her passion for drug development. Dr. McKerracher has published more than 50 research and review articles in leading journals and has edited a book on spinal cord injury. She has over 30 issued patents as Inventor.

Currently, Dr. McKerracher is an Adjunct Professor at McGill University, and a Professor Associé at the Université de Montréal. She is Scientific Officer for the Canadian Institute of Health Research Proof-of-Principal commercialization grant committee. She is also a member of a National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)/SBIR review committee for the NIH. Dr. McKerracher holds a BSc from McGill University and a PhD from York University, and received post-doctoral training at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology (Massachusetts) and McGill University. Dr. McKerracher is a member of RHI’s Commercialization Advisory Committee.

Hunter Peckham, PhD
Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Hunter Peckham’s research effort focuses on functional restoration of the paralyzed upper extremity in individuals with spinal cord injury. He and collaborators developed three generations of implantable neural prostheses which utilize electrical stimulation to control neuromuscular activation. They have implemented procedures to provide control upper extremity in individuals with tetraplegia, enabling individuals with central nervous system disability to regain the ability to perform essential activities of daily living. His present efforts concern technology development, expansion of the indications for this technology, and technology transfer and commercialization into broader availability through the non-profit Institute for Functional Restoration at Case Western Reserve University.

Dr. Peckham is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, fellow and honorary member of the American Spinal Injury Association, member of the National Academy of Engineering, member of the National Academy of Inventors, and numerous professional organizations. Dr. Peckham received the Paul B. Magnuson Award, the highest honor for VA Rehabilitation Investigators. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Spinal Injury Association and the Medal for Health Science Innovation from the CWRU School of Medicine. He received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University), Potsdam, NY, and his MS and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Peckham is a member of the Rick Hansen Institute Commercialization Advisory Committee.

Catherine Truchon, PhD, MScAdm, MBA
Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux

Dr. Catherine Truchon completed a Master in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto, followed by a PhD in neuropsychology and a Master’s in business and organizational management at Université Laval in Quebec. She practiced nearly 10 years as a neuropsychologist and clinical coordinator at l’Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus and l'Institut de réadaptation en déficience physique de Québec (IRDPQ). In 2004, Dr. Truchon became head of the program in multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular diseases and myelopathy, a component of the Centre of Expertise for spinal cord injured people in eastern Quebec (CEBMEQ).

Dr. Truchon has worked on numerous initiatives over the years including multicenter research projects focused on the trauma spinal cord injury, neurotrauma, the continuum of care and services, development and evaluation of care standards, knowledge transfer, implementation of best practices, etc. She participates in several committees of provincial and national experts, and serves on RHI’s Board of Directors and Care Advisory Committee.