Cleveland Clinic Researchers Receive $1 Million NIH Grant to Study Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries

Surgical Techniques Being Developed May Restore Damaged Spinal Cord


Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute researchers have received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue their research related to treatments for spinal cord injuries.

Yu-Shang Lee, PhD, and his team in the Clinic’s Neural Regeneration Laboratory are laying the groundwork for development of surgical treatments that may promote nerve regeneration and the recovery of bladder function.

“In our laboratory work, we have been able to stimulate re-growth of nerve fibers damaged after spinal cord injuries,” Dr. Lee said. “If we can successfully re-grow the nerves in patients, then we may be able to one day alleviate paralysis in patients with spinal cord injuries.”

More than 12,000 people each year suffer spinal chord injuries (SCI) and greater than 250,000 Americans are living with disabilities related to SCI, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center.

“Dr. Lee's work is pioneering, and there is a need for more and better treatment options for patients living with spinal cord injuries,” said Vernon Lin, PhD, Chairman of the Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic. “This research will help us better understand how to best restore an injured spinal cord and moves science one step closer to an eventual spinal cord transplants in humans.”

Dr. Lee is on the faculty of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Neurological Institute, and the Department of Neurosciences within the Lerner Research Institute.

About the Lerner Research Institute

The Lerner Research Institute is home to Cleveland Clinic’s laboratory, translational and clinical research. Its mission: to promote human health by investigating in the laboratory and the clinic the causes of disease and discovering novel approaches to prevention and treatments; to train the next generation of biomedical researchers; and to foster productive collaborations with those providing clinical care. The total annual research expenditures was about $258 million in 2008 (including $75 million in new NIH funding). More than 1,200 people (including about 194 principal investigators, 350 junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows, and 160 graduate students) in 11 Departments work in research programs focusing on cardiovascular, cancer, neurologic, musculoskeletal, allergic and immunologic, eye, metabolic, and infectious disease. The Institute includes more than 700,000 square feet of space. The Institute also is an integral part of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University and created the Molecular Medicine PhD Program – training the next generation of physician-scientists.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,000 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 7,600 nurses at Cleveland Clinic represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to its main campus, Cleveland Clinic operates nine community hospitals in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and Cleveland Clinic Canada. In 2008, there were more than 4.2 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 165,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 80 countries.

Media Contacts: