Zhigang He, Rosi Lederer, Verena May, Sam David
Zhigang He, Rosi Lederer, Verena May, Sam David  

ISCoS Scientific Meeting


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Last week, the ISCoS conference was held in Montreal, Canada. Our scientific coordinator Dr. Rosi Lederer was there and gives us a first-hand account of what it was to be part of it. 

What a surprise. My colleague Verena and me, we are the lab of Sam David at the McGill University in Montreal. Suddenly Zhigang He from Harvard came across. Is this coincidence or a class reunion of experts in axon regeneration? Well, a bit of both, as we’ve found out the next day. 

The reason we’re in Montreal is the 2015 ISCoS conference (= International Spinal Cord Society). Approximately 1000 health professionals, scientists, physical therapists, people affected and representatives of foundations like ours meet here every year to discuss problems and solutions of therapies for spinal cord injuries. Basic research is not in the focus; it’s  most about clinical applications.    

The conference takes place simultaneously in five rooms and people listen to different lectures or have a look at the numerous posters. Among many others, topics cover: 

• Imaging
• Neuropathic pain
• Neuro-urology
• Rehabilitation
• Functional recovery
• Autonomic dysfunction or specific problems of pediatric spinal cord injury
• Spinal cord injury clinical trials and quality of life measures

In one of the lectures, we finally find out, why we met Zhigang He and Sam David at the lab the day before. Albert Aguayo, who is one of the major neuroscientists of the last 100 years, acknowledges the outstanding work in axon regeneration of David and He. That makes us proud too as both are part of our scientific advisory board.       

Apart from that, being on the conference is valuable for Verena and me. We get a lot of input relating to our daily business. And we meet familiar scientists and colleagues of other foundations like the Rick Hansen or the Craig H Nielsen Foundation. We make a lot of conversations and exchange our thoughts. Patient organizations ask important questions to the foundations: Why not joint efforts to support big and expensive clinical studies? Who will cover additional expenses for patients who take part in clinical studies, such as travel or accommodation expenses?  

It is a great meeting and shows that the clinical state of the art treatment and the care improved tremendously over the last decades and can reduce the consequences of spinal cord injury. But it also shows that we still need to work with full energy to find a cure for people living with this devastating injury.