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Speakers

October 21 - 23, 2021 | Virtual Symposium

Confirmed speakers as of August 9th, 2021.

  • Marcalee Alexander is a PM&R physician that has practiced at multiple model SCI systems, served as ASIA President and Editor of Spinal Cord Series and Cases. She has centered on sexuality and SCI since 1990, having produced Sexuality Reborn and performed laboratory-based research to delineate how specific SCIs affect arousal and orgasm, thus, facilitating better treatments. Having survived cancer in 2005, she adjusted her career path, adapting a more integrated approach to optimize sexual and quality of life for people with SCIs. Dr. Alexander is President of Sustain Our Abilities and cohosts, Everlasting Love. She is the author of Sexual Sustainability: A guide to having-a great sex life with a spinal cord disorder and the author of More Sex, Less Drugs. Realizing the importance of accessibility to healthcare and the importance of addressing climate change for all, she is also Editor of Telerehabilitation: Principles and Practice and The Journal of Climate Change and Health.

  • Warren J. Alilain is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Medicine and his laboratory is a part of the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California at San Diego. Following this he was a research assistant at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in San Diego where he was first exposed to the fields of neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injury (SCI). For his graduate and postdoctoral work he trained with the leading experts, Drs. Harry Goshgarian and Jerry Silver, and focused on rodent models of cervical SCI and the resulting respiratory motor deficits. Dr. Alilain has continued this line of investigation in his own laboratory which he started in 2011 at MetroHealth Medical Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2015, he moved his laboratory to UK. In addition to cervical SCI, his research interests include neural plasticity in both injury and learning models, the therapeutic potential of stem cells, and functional electrical stimulation. Dr. Alilain’s approach towards exploring strategies to restore function after SCI is through first developing a pre-clinical animal model which closely reflects the human clinical population. This includes the use of cervical contusion injuries, chronic injured animals, and “humanized” rodents in order to develop personalized therapeutic interventions. Dr. Alilain has reviewed for 20+ scientific journals and a number of federal and private funding agencies including the Craig H. Neilsen Foudation, the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the VA, and the Department of Defense. He is currently a committee member on the Research Committee of the American Spinal Injury Association. Lastly, he founded and created an online SCI seminar series now known as the International Online SCI Research Seminars (IOSCIRS) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Jocelyne Bloch graduated in the Faculty of Medicine of Lausanne University in December 1994. She completed her neurosurgical degree in 2002. She completed her neurosurgical degree in 2002, specializing in stereotactic and functional neurosurgery, and acquired an extensive experience and expertise in deep brain stimulation (DBS) and neuromodulation for movement disorders, pain and epilepsy. She is in charge of the functional neurosurgical unit at the CHUV. Very active in experimental medicine and translational neuroscience, she nourishes a profound interest in the development of new indications for DBS, and in advancing technologies and therapeutic paradigms in neuromodulation, neuro-regeneration, and cell therapy. She seeks to gather all these novel therapeutic strategies under a common umbrella that will foster optimization of treatment options for patients suffering from neurological impairments. She is now associate Professor in the department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital Lausanne (CHUV) and adjunct Professor in the Center for Neuroprosthetics at EPFL where together with Grégoire Courtine she is director of the Defitech Center for Interventional Neurotherapies (NeuroRestore).

  • Quinn Brett, MA | Board of Directors, U2FP
    Quinn Brett, MA | Board of Directors, U2FP

    Athletics and movement have always been a big part of Quinn's life, from running the Twin Cities Marathon, triathlons, ultra-runs and rock climbing. In 2008, Quinn returned to school to obtain a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology as well as a social studies secondary teaching certificate. Traveling and the mountain lifestyle led her away from teaching in a classroom setting, and instead she acquired her Emergency Medicine training and Search and Rescue Training. She got hired as a climbing ranger in RMNP in the summer months, educating visitors on Public Land use and rescuing visitors with everything from twisted ankles to life-threatening injuries in precarious places. In the winter months she taught Wilderness EMT courses and traveled on various climbing expeditions. Quinn has established new routes and speed records on mountains across the globe, as well as all over the American West. In 2017, Quinn took a large climbing fall on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, sustaining a T11 ASIA A Spinal Cord Injury. Her love to move through outdoor wilderness space continues as does her passion for educating others on spinal cord injury and research.

  • Dr. Lique Coolen is Professor of Biological Sciences at Kent State University and serves as Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands in 1995 and has been on faculty at the University of Cincinnati, University of Western Ontario, University of Michigan, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She has received numerous awards for her research and teaching, including the CJ Herrick award from the American Association of Anatomists and the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Motivation and Reward. She has published over 130 papers describing her research on spinal cord injury, drug addiction, and neuroendocrine function, and has been continuously funded by NIH and other federal agencies during the past 20 years.

  • Grégoire Courtine was trained in Physics and Neurosciences. His passion for translational neurosciences has fueled his research in the development of neurotechnologies to improve recovery from neurological disorders. After obtaining the Chancellor Award during his post-doc at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), he established his own laboratory at the University of Zurich in 2008 before joining the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) in 2012. He is now Full Professor of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology in the Center for Neuroprosthetics at EPFL and adjunct Professor in the department of Neurosurgery at the University Hospital Lausanne (CHUV) where together with Jocelyne Bloch he is director of the Defitech Center for Interventional Neurotherapies (NeuroRestore). He is also Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of GTX medical, a start-up he founded in 2014 to translate the neurotechnologies developed in his laboratory into clinical treatments.

  • Jim Hamer is the Director of the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Program at DP Clinical, Inc., a full-service Contract Research Organization (CRO) based in Rockville, MD. He has over 24 years of SCI research and clinical trial experience working with biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Due to his experience, desire and passion to seek cures for the acute and chronic SCI community, Jim was elected to the U2FP Board of Directors in February 2021.

  • Dr. Koffler is an assistant professor of neurosciences and the head of the Neural Engineering lab at the Department of Neurosciences, School of Medicine, UC San Diego. His lab study axonal regeneration after traumatic injury such as spinal cord and peripheral nerve injury. His approach to promote and enhance axonal regeneration involves interdisciplinary science using 3D-printing, biomaterials, stem cells, neuroscience, and drug delivery to create biomimetic devices implanted in the injury site and integrate with the host to guide regeneration. These research programs range from feasibility studies in rodents to preclinical studies aiming to improve patients’ lives.

  • Barry R. Komisaruk is Distinguished Professor, Psychology, Rutgers University-Newark; initial appointment: 1966. Education: City University New York, B.S. Biology, 1961;
    Rutgers University, PhD Psychobiology, 1965; UCLA, Postdoctoral NIH Fellow, 1966. Program Director at NIH-NIGMS; Associate Editor, Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual
    Medicine Reviews. Research discoveries: first identification of brain regions activated during orgasm in women; first organic cause of PGAD (Persistent Genital Arousal
    Disorder) being Tarlov cysts or herniated intervertebral discs; first evidence that the Vagus nerves convey genital sensation in women with complete spinal cord injury; first
    demonstration of, and mechanism underlying, the pain-blocking action of vaginal stimulation. Grant funding: NIH, NSF, NJ State, private foundations. 175 refereed
    research articles, 5 co-authored/edited books, including “The Science of Orgasm,” published in 7 languages. Awards: Hugo F. Beigel Research Award in Sexuality;
    Bullough Award of the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Students: doctoral dissertations of 27 PhDs, 21 postdoctoral scholars.

  • Michael Lane, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine. He leads a research team consisting of two graduate students and one junior faculty member (instructor). Prior to coming to Drexel, Dr. Lane was an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Florida, McKnight Brain Institute. He also served as a lecturer in the annual NIH-funded Spinal Cord Injury Training Program at The Ohio State University from 2009 to 2013.

  • Yi-Kai is an entrepreneur, engineer, and scientist who started his career as an integrated circuit designer and then eventually dived deeply into the interdisciplinary field of neuroscience, neuroengineering, and bioelectronic medicine. His objective was to investigate underlying biological mechanisms and then develop and validate relevant new devices and technologies. In 2016, he co-founded Niche Biomedical, a company dedicated to developing bioelectronic treatments for diseases and injuries incurable through pharmaceutical agents.

  • Dave Marver is CEO of ONWARD, a company creating therapies to restore movement, independence, and health for people with spinal cord injury. Prior to joining ONWARD, Dave spent almost 15 years with Medtronic in a variety of leadership positions around the world. Later, Dave served as CEO for Cardiac Science Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed company and leader in defibrillators and other cardiac equipment. He then founded and ran a sports technology start-up, which developed two TIME Magazine Inventions of the Year.

  • Barry (BA, LLB) is the Chief Development Officer of the Canadian Spinal Research Organization and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation; he also serves as director of the American Spinal Research Organization. In 1987, Barry sustained a spinal cord injury in a diving accident, which resulted in quadriplegia. He has sat on multiple boards advocating for people with disabilities and particularly spinal cord injury research. Barry graduated from Law School in 1994 and was called to the Bar in 1996. He practiced personal injury law for over 10 years. His legal experience combined with 30 years of practical experience living with a spinal cord injury make him a formidable advocate for the disabled community. Barry has dedicated his life to assisting people living with disabilities and improving their quality of life.

  • Arushi Raina is the Director of Commercialization at Praxis Spinal Cord Institute. She has been integral in developing, managing and overseeing the Praxis SCI Accelerate and SCI Incubate Programs, the first international incubator-accelerator programs focused on SCI technologies. Arushi has a background in healthcare, innovation and working with leadership teams. Prior to joining Praxis, she worked as an healthcare strategy consultant, and for a traumatic brain injury start-up company. She also worked at KPMG Canada for several years in the healthcare practice, focus on public system changes and clinical program design. She holds an MBA from the Ivey Business School from Western University in Ontario, Canada, and BA honors in English and Economics from Vassar College in NY. Recognizing her leadership in healthcare, she was awarded the British Columbia Top 30 under 30 in 2020. She is a board member at Portland Hotel Society in Vancouver, BC, and a published novelist.

  • Sabhya Rana received her B.S. in Biological sciences from University of California, Irvine (2008-2011). She worked in the lab Dr. Oswald Steward at the Reeve Irvine Research Center (2010-2013), an experience which solidified her interest in SCI research. She received her PhD in Neuroscience (2014-2018) under Drs. Carlos Mantilla and Gary Sieck at the Mayo Clinic, where she studied mechanisms of neuroplasticity supporting respiratory recovery following SCIs. In 2019, Sabhya joined the lab of Dr. David Fuller as a postdoctoral associate at University of Florida, where she is investigating the impact of ampakines to enhance respiratory function in a pre-clinical model of SCI. Sabhya has been a founding contributor to the International Online Spinal Cord Research Seminars. She also serves on the Diversity Equity and Inclusion sub-committee and is deeply committed to supporting conversations between the SCI community and researchers in order to make meaningful strides towards a cure.

  • Uzma Samadani is a neurosurgeon and brain injury researcher at the University of Minnesota. She moved to Minneapolis in 2015 and was named to Minneapolis St-Paul Magazine’s “Top Doctors in Neurosurgery” lists in 2016 through 2019. In 2018 she was on the cover of the “Top Doctors” edition with the byline “The Doctor Will Save You Now.” In 2018 she also was awarded the “Courageous Women in Healthcare” award by the Women’s Health Leadership Trust. Minnesota Monthly dubbed her a “Top Doctor in Minnesota” in 2018 and 2019.

  • Dr. Solzbacher is Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He also holds adjunct appointments as Professor in Materials Science and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah. He is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers AIMBE and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE. He is Co-Founder, President and Executive Chairman of Blackrock Microsystems. His research focuses on harsh environment microsystems and materials, including implantable, wireless microsystems for biomedical and healthcare applications, and on high temperature and harsh environment compatible micro sensors. He is co-founder of several companies and member of a number of company and public private partnership advisory and
    reviewer boards and conference steering committees in Europe and the US. He is author of over 190 journal and conference publications, 5 book chapters and 16 pending patents.

  • Jason Stoffer lives in the Rockies of Northwest Montana with his wife and three children. He has a B.S. degree in Natural Sciences/Biology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Jason's love of outdoor adventure led him to work and play there as a mountaineer, long distance hiker, wild-land firefighter, search and rescue technician, EMT, and Law Enforcement Officer. A single vehicle rollover on his commute to work one morning resulted in an L1 Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and paraplegia. He attended Craig Hospital for inpatient rehab as well as the Brooks Cybernic Treatment Center. Jason is a strong proponent for functional recovery research. He works with U2FP as a CAN Manager and CureCast Co-host and is a Research Reviewer for CDMRP. Jason continues to pursue an active lifestyle by building a home, getting outside and engaging with his community.

  • Keith E. Tansey, MD, PhD, FASNR, FASIA, is a Senior Scientist in the NeuroRobotics Lab of the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, a Professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and a Physician on the SCI Medicine and Research Services at the VA Medical Center in Jackson. Dr. Tansey has been board-certified in Neurology, Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, and Neural Repair and Rehabilitation. He has served on the boards of the American Society for Neurorehabilitation (Fellow), and the American Spinal Injury Association (Past-President and Fellow). Dr. Tansey has also recently edited a textbook, “Neurological Aspects of Spinal Cord Injury” (Springer). Dr. Tansey has studied plasticity in neural circuits for pain, autonomic function, locomotion, and upper extremity function in animal models and humans after spinal cord injury, with an interest in shaping that plasticity to improve functional recovery.

  • Dr. Taylor is the Principal Investigator for Spaulding’s Cardiovascular Research Lab. He holds a Ph.D. in physiology from the University of Arizona. He had postdoctoral fellowships at Duke University Medical School and the Medical College of Virginia before joining the Harvard Medical School Faculty. He is currently an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Associate Chair for Research in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and a Fellow of the American Heart Association. He has published over 100 research articles on topics such as the impact of microgravity on blood pressure control in astronauts, the effects of exercise on human aging, and most recently the beneficial effects of functional electrical stimulation of the legs for rowing exercise in those with spinal cord injury.

  • Dr. Yarar-Fisher received her B.S. degree in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation from Baskent University in Turkey and her PhD in Neuromechanics at Auburn University. Following her PhD, she joined the UAB Nutrition and Obesity Research Center in the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology as an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellow. She worked under the primary mentorship of Dr. Marcas Bamman in the Core Muscle Research Laboratory. Her research focused on skeletal muscle metabolic adaptations to long-term spinal cord injury (SCI) and acute and chronic bouts of neuromuscular electrical stimulation, the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and adiposity in women with SCI, and the effects of high-intensity exercise and high-protein diet on muscle and whole-body metabolism in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury.