Plenary Speakers:

Rick Hansen, C.C., O.B.C.
CEO, Rick Hansen Foundation

Rick is currently CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation and a passionate advocate for people with disabilities in Canada and around the world. As well as being a celebrated Paralympic athlete, Rick is best known for the Man In Motion World Tour, his epic two-year wheelchair journey around the globe. Since the completion of the tour in 1987, he has dedicated his life to creating a world that is accessible and inclusive for all. In addition to leading a team of passionate difference makers at the Rick Hansen Foundation, he provides support to people with disabilities, spreads hope and inspiration through public speaking engagements and advises leaders on issues such as accessibility and inclusivity.

Mr. Hansen will speak during the Praxis 2016 Opening Plenary.

Francesco M. Marincola, MD, FACS
Chief Research Officer, Sidra Medical and Research Center; Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. Francesco Marincola is the inaugural Chief Research Officer of Sidra Medical and Research Center, Doha, Qatar. Before this position, Dr. Marincola was a tenured investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2003, Dr. Marincola founded and is the current Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Translational Medicine; he is also Co-Editor-in-Chief, Clinical and Translational Medicine, and US Senior Editor of Immunotherapy, Associate Editor for The Journal of Immunotherapy, Tumori, and Clinical Cancer Research. He is also Adjunct Professor at Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China, First Military Medical University, Tonghe, Guangzhou, China, Shenzhen Institute of Xiangxya Biomedicine, Shenzhen, China and Universidad del Rosario, Bogota, Colombia.

Dr. Marincola is author of more than 600 peer-reviewed research articles; his work has been cited more than 23,000 times with an average of 1,500 citations per year and an H index of 76. Dr. Marincola is the second most cited scientist in the field of melanoma during the last ten years. Dr. Marincola received his MD, summa cum laude from the University of Milan, and he completed his surgery training at Stanford University.

Dr. Marincola will speak during the Praxis 2016 Opening Plenary.

Jennifer French, MBA
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Neurotech Network

As a result of a snowboarding accident, Ms. Jennifer French became a quadriplegic from a C6-7 incomplete spinal cord injury in 1998. In November 1999, she was the first woman to receive the Implantable Stand & Transfer System, a functional electrical stimulation device provided by the Cleveland FES Center, MetroHealth Medical Center and Veterans Affairs. Ms. Jennifer French is the co-founder and executive director of Neurotech Network – a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and advocating to and for persons with impairments, their caregivers and health care professionals regarding neurotechnology. She also represented Team USA at the 2012 Paralympic Games in the sport of sailing, winning a silver medal.

As an accomplished writer and speaker, Ms. French has addressed organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the World Science Festival, TEDx Talk, the NIH/NINDS Neural Interfaces and many more.

Ms. French will speak during the Praxis 2016 Opening Plenary.

Kim Anderson-Erisman, PhD
Director of Education, 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.

Dr. Anderson-Erisma will speak during the Praxis 2016 Opening Plenary.

Session Speakers:

Mark Bayley, MD, FRCPC
Medical Director, Brain & Spinal Cord Rehab Program, UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

Mark Bayley is a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is currently the Medical Director and a Clinician Scientist at the Brain and Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute part of the University Health Network. He holds the Saunderson Family Chair in Acquired Brain injury research at UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. He is an Associate Professor at University of Toronto. His research interests include:, Knowledge Translation, Development of Best Practice Guidelines, Neurological recovery and novel models of care. He leads international guideline groups in the fields of arm recovery after stroke and cognitive recovery, He has led large randomized controlled trials of implementation science.

Dr. Bayley will share his insights as a panelist in Session 3: Care.

Anthony Burns, MD, MSc
Physiatrist, UHN-Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

Anthony S. Burns graduated from the Yale University School of Medicine in 1994, and afterwards completed combined residency training in Internal Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University, followed by a SCI fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a past participant in the Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. From 2000 through 2007, he was Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia PA; Assistant Director of the Regional SCI Center of the Delaware Valley; and adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia PA. Since 2007, Dr. Burns has held a clinical appointment in the University Health Network - Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program, the largest program of its kind in Canada. He is also an Associate Professor in the Division of Physiatry, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto. His clinical and research interests focus on the clinical management of spinal cord injury and related secondary complications.

Dr. Burns will share his insights as a panelist in Session 3: Care.

Andrew Blight, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer, Acorda Therapeutics

Dr. Blight received his Ph.D. from the University of Bristol (UK) in 1976. He became interested in the effects of injury on the central nervous system while studying synaptic transmission at New York University and the Max Planck Institute, Frankfurt. In 1980 he moved back to NYU to study spinal cord injury (SCI). He developed research programs around two related interests: the roles of inflammation and demyelination in chronic SCI, which he continued later at Purdue University and the University of North Carolina, where he was Professor and Director of the Research Laboratories in Neurosurgery from 1992-98. His translational work on pharmacological treatment of demyelination led progressively into clinical studies. In 1998 he became Vice President for R&D at Acorda Therapeutics. He has been Chief Scientific Officer at Acorda since 2004 and is involved in clinical trials and laboratory research on experimental approaches to repair and regeneration of the CNS. Dr. Blight has been an active member of the Neurotrauma Society since its inception and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Neurotrauma.

Andrew Blight will share his insights as a panelist in Session 1: Product Development and Delivery.

Dr. Dennis Choi, MD, PhD
Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, Stony Brook Medicine

Dennis Choi, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology and Director of the Neurosciences Institute at Stony Brook University, as well as Director of the Brain Sciences Institute at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. Prior positions have included Executive Vice President at the Simons Foundation, Vice President for Academic Health Affairs at Emory University, Executive Vice President for Neuroscience at Merck Research Labs, and Head of Neurology at Washington University Medical School. He received his M.D. from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program, as well as a Ph.D. in pharmacology and neurology training from Harvard. A fellow of the AAAS and member of the IOM, he has served previously as President of the Society for Neuroscience, Vice-President of the American Neurological Association, and chairman of the U.S./Canada Regional Committee of the International Brain Research Organization. He has been a member of the NAS Board on Life Sciences, the Councils for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, the Society for Neuroscience, the Winter Conference for Brain Research, the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, and the Neurotrauma Society. He has served on advisory boards to the Dana Alliance for Brain Research, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the Grass Foundation, the Hereditary Disease Foundation, the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, the Max-Planck Institute in Heidelberg, the Korea Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS), and the FDA, as well as multiple university-based research consortia, biotechnology companies, and pharmaceutical companies. His own research has focused on cellular mechanisms of pathological neuronal death, and the development of novel therapeutics and biomarkers.

Dr. Dennis Choi will share his insights as a panelist in Session 4: Investors, Industry, IP and Insurance.

Cathy Craven, BA, MSc, MD, FRCPC
Medical Lead, Brain & Spinal Cord Rehab Program, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Associate Professor, Dept of Medicine,
University of Toronto

Dr. Craven will share his insights as a panelist in Session 3: Care.

Lyn Jakeman, PhD
Program Director, National Institute of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH/NINDS)

Dr. Lyn Jakeman is a Program Director providing oversight for extramural research on spinal cord injury and regeneration at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) within the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Jakeman received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Florida, did postdoctoral training in Neuroscience and Endocrinology at Genentech, Inc., and worked in discovery research in the Neuroscience Department at the Institute of Pharmacology at Syntex Research (Roche Biosciences) in Palo Alto, California. In 1995, she joined the faculty in the Department of Physiology at Ohio State University and ran a research lab seeking to understand the role of glial cells and the extracellular matrix in repair and recovery of the spinal cord following injury. Lyn joined NINDS in 2013 and has contributed to the development of the NINDS translational research programs and Common Data Elements, and serves on trans-NIH and trans-agency committees for spinal cord injury and rehabilitation research programs.

Dr. Jakeman will share her insights as a panelist in Session 2: Pre-clinical trials and clinical trials.

Brian K. Kwon, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury, 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.

Dr. Kwon will share his insights as a panelist in Session 2: Pre-clinical trials and clinical trials.

Kathleen Marsman, PhD
Patent Agent, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Kathleen Marsman is a patent agent in the Ottawa office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. She became a registered Canadian patent agent in 1999, and a registered US patent agent in 2001. Kathleen obtained her PhD in Nutrition & Metabolism from University of Alberta. Kathleen drafts and prosecutes patent applications for technologies in all areas of the life sciences, including drugs and medical devices. She also counsels patent applicants on matters of patentability, filing strategy and portfolio management. Kathleen's clients include universities, healthcare institutions, start-up companies, multinational pharmaceutical and consumer product companies, as well as an international network of patent attorneys and agents. Kathleen chaired the CIHR Proof of Principle commercialization grant program for 4 year until it’s closure in 2015.

Ms. Marsman will share her insights as a panelist in Session 4: Investors, Industry, IP and Insurance.

Megan Moynahan, MS
Executive Director, Institute for Functional Restoration

Megan Moynahan is the Executive Director of the Institute for Functional Restoration, a non-profit organization based at Case Western Reserve University that has the mission to restore function to people with spinal cord injury by building a sustainable commercial enterprise for neuromodulation systems. The IFR’s unique commercialization approach involves a non-profit / for-profit combination that assures the steady translation of proven technologies out of research and into stable commercial availability. The IFR is currently shepherding a multi-function neuromodulation system through the regulatory and commercialization stages, with support from both philanthropy and traditional grants, and in combination with manufacturing and commercial partner, Synapse Biomedical.

Prior to this, Megan enjoyed a 17-year career at the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, where she served as its Associate Director for Technology and Innovation, leading a variety of projects including directing the White House sponsored Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program and the Innovation Pathway, a program designed to streamline the regulatory process for innovative medical devices. She holds degrees in biomedical engineering from both John Hopkins University and Case Western Reserve University.

Ms. Moynahan will share her insights as a panelist in Session 1: Product Development and Delivery.

P. Hunter Peckham, PhD
Donnell Institute Professor of Biomedical Engineering

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.

Dr. Peckham will share his insights as a panelist in Session 1: Product Development and Delivery.

Ron Podraza
Co-Founder and CEO, Reimbursement Principles, Inc.

Ronald Podraza is the CEO and co-founder of Reimbursement Principles, Inc. For 17+ years Reimbursement Principles has assisted the developers of innovative medical technology in securing third party pay (“reimbursement”) for their technologies and the procedures in which they are used. Many of these technologies originate in Universities and other non-profit research institutions. The range of services offered by Reimbursement Principles may be found at the website, www.reimbursementprinciples.com.

Prior to Reimbursement Principles, Ron served as the start-up CEO of three investor-backed medical device companies. Two of the companies commercialized university-developed medical technologies and the third a medical technology developed privately by two physicians. The therapeutic areas addressed by these technologies were spinal cord injury, cranial surgery, and brain mapping.

Ron was educated at Stanford University in California, which conferred Ron’s bachelor’s degree in economics and his J.D. degree in law. In his early career Ron worked as general counsel for a start-up manufacturer of cardiac pacemakers, focused on legal issues of international distribution, and, of course, FDA regulation of implantable devices.

Ron Podraza will share his insights as a panelist in Session 4: Investors, Industry, IP and Insurance.

Phil Tinmouth
Vice President & Head, Business Development & Alliance Management, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Phil joined Vertex Pharmaceuticals as Director of Corporate Development in 2002 and is now Vice President & Head, Business Development & Alliance Management. His role at Vertex involves managing a group of professionals that oversee all of the business development activities at Vertex, including sourcing, assessing and negotiating licenses for external assets, the licensing of Vertex assets as well as the management of the various alliances in place. Phil has also had significant involvement in the launch planning for Incivek in the US as well strategic and long range planning.

Prior to joining Vertex, Phil worked at Bain & Company (a Boston-based strategy consulting firm) as a Senior Manager in its Healthcare practice, serving both Fortune 50 pharmaceutical clients as well as smaller biotech companies. These engagements included growth strategy mergers and acquisition and post-merger integration.

Phil received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honours, in Mechanical Engineering, from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Phil lives in Boston with his wife, Brit Dewey, and their children Julian and Erika.

Mr. Tinmouth will share his insights as a panelist in Session 4: Investors, Industry, IP and Insurance.

Michele (Shelly) Towle, BS
Assistant Director, SCI Program, DP Clinical

Michele Towle is the Assistant Director of the SCI Program at DP Clinical, Inc. Michele has 17 years of experience in SCI clinical research and has monitored and managed SCI clinical trials for DP Clinical since 2003. DP Clinical (DPC) is a Contract Research Organization (CRO) located in Rockville, MD, providing monitoring, data management, data analysis, and auditing services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. Since 1994, DPC has worked on almost all acute and chronic SCI studies since the benchmark study of Sygen (GM1 ganglioside) along with Autologous Macrophages and Stem Cells. The DPC SCI team is knowledgeable and experienced in managing SCI clinical trials. Over the years DPC has built a strong reputation for high standards of quality, data integrity, cost-effectiveness, and client satisfaction.

Ms. Towle will share her insights as a panelist in Session 2: Pre-clinical trials and clinical trials.

Edward D. Wirth, III, MD, PhD
Chief Medical Officer, Asterias Biotherapeutics

Edward D. Wirth, III, M.D., Ph.D., is our Chief Medical Officer and joined Asterias in March 2013 after serving as Chief Science Officer at InVivo Therapeutics Corporation from 2011 to 2012. From 2004 to 2011, Dr. Wirth served as Medical Director for Regenerative Medicine at Geron Corporation, where he led the world’s first clinical trial of a hES cell-derived product, GRNOPC1 in patients with subacute spinal cord injuries. Dr. Wirth held academic appointments at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center and at the University of Chicago from 2002 to 2004, and was a member of the faculty of the University of Florida from 1996 to 2002. Dr. Wirth received his Ph.D. and M.D. from the University of Florida in 1992 and 1994, respectively.

Edward Wirth will share his insights as a panelist in Session 1: Product Development and Delivery.