Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership

A collaboration between ICORD and Praxis made possible by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

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A Legacy of Enhancing Collaborations

Advancing research and improving the kind and quality of care available are key ingredients in improving outcomes and health of people living with SCI. Both are essential for strengthening individuals, families, caregivers and communities, for reducing the high cost of SCI to society as a whole, and for achieving scientific breakthroughs that hold the promise of better lives.

The Blusson Integrated Cures Partnership (BICP), a collaboration between ICORD and Praxis Spinal Cord Institute between 2013 and 2020, was established to do just this.

In April 2013, the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF), a leader in accessibility and awareness, committed $20-million over ten years to support researchers and clinicians at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre to accelerate preclinical and clinical research in SCI. This funding was aimed at strengthening the partnership between Praxis and ICORD, and leveraging their existing strengths for greater impact.

The purpose of the BICP partnership was to:

  • become the world’s leading partnership in innovative and collaborative preclinical and clinical research to accelerate the discovery of SCI cures;
  • develop and promote an International Clinical Trial and Research Network to enable international collaboration in promising clinical trials and research efforts; and
  • inform and empower people with SCI so that they could become champions and active participants in creating a world without paralysis after SCI.

Areas of focus

Translational Research

Translational Research is research that makes its way from the laboratory to the clinic. In this area ICORD lead the SCI Translational Research Platform, a program designed to identify treatments at the preclinical stage that have the best chances of succeeding in human clinical trials. Another program was Canada’s first international SCI biobank, which stores tissue samples, blood samples, and spinal cord fluid. Using the biobank, researchers hope to identify the different biological mechanisms at work in different types of injuries, which could guide clinicians to use the best treatment for the circumstance. For example, an appropriate therapy for a bruised spinal cord may not be correct for a dislocated spinal column.

These efforts were to ensure that the science being done in the lab had the best chance to benefit the doctors and patients working to optimize outcomes.

Best + Brightest

The BICP operates with the knowledge that people are one of the most valuable resources in discovering effective treatments for SCI. The Best and Brightest was a strategy to support the development of talent and novel ideas in SCI research. The resources from this strategy were used to recruit new faculty, provide seed grants for creative research projects, and give awards for travel and research, with a focus on students and early-career investigators. The Best and Brightest strategy also supported ICORD’s Annual Research Meeting and Trainee Symposium, both of which brought international investigators from a wide variety of disciplines to Vancouver to discuss and work together on SCI research.

This strategy gave promising researchers the ability to work within a lively and supportive environment designed to bring out the best of their talents while they focused on a common goal.


Informatics is the science of the interaction between humans and information. Praxis continues to use informatics to compile a robust source of data on individuals with SCI, providing data infrastructure for clinical trials and the potential to validate best practices. Such datasets become increasingly useful as more patients are included, as researchers can monitor the progress of patients from the emergency room back into the community. To date, Praxis has developed two information resources: the Global Research Platform (GRP) and CliniQuick, a tablet-based system for clinical data collection. The BICP provided support to SCI researchers, including the use of these tools, which have been of particular benefit for ICORD investigators.

Network Development

Network development enabled both Praxis and ICORD to extend their reach beyond Western Canada and to incorporate global knowledge into their work. Conferences are important opportunities for members of the research and stakeholder community to come together to learn, share and generate new ideas, establish relationships, and build a foundation for future collaborations. In pursuit of these goals, the two organizations hosted, sponsored, and actively participated in conferences worldwide with the support of the BICP. Praxis hosted Praxis 2016 in Vancouver – a landmark international conference to develop practical solutions for overcoming challenges to translating research into improved outcomes for individuals living with SCI.

Consumer Engagement

From identifying priorities to participating in studies and validating findings, people with SCI and their friends, families, and caregivers are critical to ensuring that research moves forward. Consumer engagement in research is an emerging field that is developing rapidly with funders, research organizations, and health care providers recognizing that engaging consumers in their work improves outcomes.

In support of this need, Praxis is committed to fostering partnerships and implementing activities to provide information and tools to SCI consumers that empower them to make informed decisions about their health, improve research outcomes, and reduce the severity of SCI secondary health complications. One initiative was partnering with SCIRE to develop SCIRE Community – an evidence-based resource, providing up-to-date information about treatments to consumers. The SCIRE team adopted a participatory research method, which involved SCI consumers to ensure that the final product provides the kind of information that is relevant to them and in formats that are accessible, comprehensible, and useful.

Learn more about SCIRE Community