On Thursday last week, we hosted a panel discussion on the CPN Grand Challenge, together with partners Public Health and Longevity and King’s College London Business Club. In a room filled with budding researchers and students alike, we had three guest speakers –Professor James Fawcett, Harvey Sihota and Oli Zolman - who provided insight into Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) (both from a scientific and personal perspective), some of the work already being done in the field and the important role of innovation Challenges. InnoCentive’s Mikey Hanson was there to give an overview of the history, grants and application process of the CPN Challenge.
CPN Scientific Advisory Council member James Fawcett brought his wealth of experience and expertise to the discussion, highlighting areas requiring particular attention within SCI research such as axon – regeneration and maladaptive plasticity and electronic repair, as well as some of the factors that have limited progress in the field so far; arguing that SCI research has long suffered from a lack of funding and clinical trials and disinterest from pharmaceutical companies -all of which the CPN Challenge aspires to overcome with its 3 stage Challenge Program.
Talking about living with SCI and his journey since being injured in a fall in 2009 was the inspirational Harvey Sihota, who is now co-founder of Neurokinex – the UK’s leading provider of activity-based rehabilitation - and Director at Unite2FightParalysis. He wanted everyone to come away from the evening not feeling that they must now be grateful and make the most of their life but feeling inspired to be part of this journey - to make a real difference in the lives of those with SCI. He explained how crucially the CPN Grants focus on the oft-neglected area of Chronic SCI, foster much needed collaboration and provide an alternative avenue for people to acquire funding for their research. And not only this, but it creates a community in which everyone has the opportunity to be involved, whether they’re a scientific researcher, doctor, entrepreneur or someone living with SCI.
Oli Zolman then took us through the role of Challenges in driving innovation in healthcare more generally. Oli’s insights highlighted the fresh new ideas that are out there and the many up-and-coming innovators around the world that are changing Healthcare research for the better.
This engaging discussion demonstrated that there are incredible people out there that could have the solutions to these problems; all it takes is initiatives such as the CPN Challenge to provide the right incentives, opportunities and framework to allow SCI cures to become a possibility. Harvey aptly reminded us of words spoken by CPN CEO Ida Cahill: “Think outside of the box, be bold, and accept the challenge to find a Cure!” - If the conversations at the networking drinks were anything to go by, the challenge has certainly been accepted. A short video of the event will be released soon.
To find out more about the CPN Challenge please click here.