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Project information

Changing the future of spinal cord injury.

Medical research for spinal cord injury is underfunded and localised. Our Special Emphasis Networks will, for the first time in the UK, join up doctors, scientists and researchers to tackle priority needs of people with a spinal cord injury.

Ongoing - Budget is for 2017/2018

Charity information: Spinal Research

Spinal Research logo
  • Need


    A spinal cord injury is truly devastating. For many people living with paralysis after a spinal cord injury, small improvements could mean greater independence and improved quality of life. Swen, injured in 2015, told us that he wants to regain movement in his fingers so he can hold a fork and eat independently. Lorraine, paralysed for over 10 years, wants to remove the embarrassment and pain caused by having to use a catheter. And Dan, injured aged 3, would like to breathe without a ventilator.


    World class medical research exists and exciting advances have been made. The challenge is to focus expertise to address priorities identified by patients. We will do this by setting up specialist networks dedicated to work on these priorities. Our first will focus on bladder, bowel and sexual function as these are extremely important to people living with paralysis. Developing effective treatments would have a dramatic impact on dignity, independence and fuller participation in society.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Build a dedicated network of experts to work collaboratively on patient-led priority needs.


    » Arrange expert workgroups of world-leading experts in clinical research, neuroprosthesis, neuromodulation, regeneration and experimental neurobiology.
    » Agree clinical milestones in bladder, bowel and sexual function on which to measure our progress and success
    » Fund research in multidisciplinary groups tasked with delivering new treatments for bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction
    » Build commercial and strategic partnerships to help establish clinical trials in the UK

    What success will look like

    Continuing development of first (implemented) network, and establishing the other five networks required to focus on the identified priority areas.

    Aim 2

    Move discoveries from the lab into clinical trials to advance treatments for spinal cord injury


    » Establish the UK’s first Spinal Cord Injury Clinical Trials Network to give patients safe and timely access to new treatments.
    » Work with UK Spinal Injuries Centres to gather data on current clinical research activities and capacity to conduct trials.
    » Develop a framework for nationwide network, including principles in governance, ethics, coordination and management.
    » Fund clinical trial activity in UK.

    What success will look like

    Treatments that are developed and show promise in the lab will be taken to clinical trial in the UK and delivered to patients via the UK clinical trial resource.

  • Impact


    Restoring the natural and voluntary control of bladder and bowel, freeing people from incontinence, without the need for catheters, colostomy operations and the ongoing care needed for these disabilities.

    Bladder problems are the primary reason for hospital admittance in the first three years after a spinal cord injury. Developing effective treatments would have a dramatic impact on dignity, independence, personal freedom and fuller participation in society, as well as reduce costs to the NHS.


    Medical research in the UK is strictly regulated and all institutions we fund are bound by government legislation. Spinal Research is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), the UK wide body ensuring adherence to national policies and regulations.
    Any research resourcing risks are minimised, by the charity’s reputation and recognition, ensuring re-recruitment of suitable researchers should the need arise. The charity is also registered with the Fundraising Regulator.


    Regular updates on the research progress being made within each focus area as well as the overarching development of the novel Special Emphasis Networks. We will use a variety of media channels already utilised by the charity, including social media, newsletters, emails and PR.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £230,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £140,000 Research Staff Costs Nerve regeneration, Neuromodulation and Enhancing neuroplasticity of spinal circuits
      £80,000 Research consumables Including; hardware, software, lab resources
      £10,000 Research Workshops Holding Research Workshops

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Major Donor £50,000 Guaranteed
    Coporate Donation £26,000 Guaranteed
    Trust £40,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Spinal Research is based in the UK however we work with researchers and clinicians from around the world to ensure that we harness the most promising, and highest level of, expertise. We endeavour that the majority of research we fund is collaborative with at least one researcher based in a UK institution which includes;
    University College London, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Kings College London, University of Cambridge and University of Leeds.


    There are 50,000 people in the UK (2.5 million people worldwide) living with a spinal cord injury who would benefit from developments and progress made.

    Additionally, this medical research will also advance treatments for the millions of people in the UK affected by multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke, dementia and motor neuron disease.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Spinal Research is the UK’s leading charity funding medical research around the world to develop effective treatments for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.
    Thanks to the innovative research we have funded, many experimental treatments, including those to restore movement and feeling, have had positive effects on spinal cord injury in the research laboratory. We are determined to see these treatments transferred to the clinic, transforming the lives of paralysed people.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Mark Bacon

    Executive and Scientific Director who is a neuroscientist by training with over 30 years’ experience in academic, commercial & third sector research.

    Professor Elizabeth Bradbury

    A neuroscientist at King’s College London specialising in regenerative medicine

    Dr. Ronaldo M Ichiyama

    Associate Professor in Motor Control School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leeds

    Dr Lynsey Duffell

    Based at UCL’s Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering her focus is on applying neuromodulatory therapies