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Dr. Rosi Lederer is responsible for the coordination, administration and promotion of the research projects at Wings for Life. She has more than ten years of experience in this field, having previously worked at the Bavarian Research Cooperation and the Helmholtz Centre Munich. We sat down with Rosi to talk about her work.

Rosi, what are you focusing on at the moment?
We’re selecting the most promising research projects for our next phase of funding. After we receive applications from researchers around the world, we send their proposals to external experts to be reviewed. I’m now collecting their feedback and creating a list of preferred projects in rank order.

And what happens next?
The next step will be to organize a meeting for our scientific directors, advisory board and leadership team to review the shortlist of projects and decide which ones will be successfully funded from 2013 onwards. We hope to do this in March.

This seems like a long process. Why is that?
This year the process is taking longer because we have twice as many applications than usually.* The gathering of the expert feedback of course also takes some time, but this is an important step, since we want to make sure to fund the most promising projects.

What’s the most challenging part of this work?
Sourcing the right experts can be challenging because for every project proposal we have to find at least two external reviewers who are not only specialists in that field, but also able to analyse the relevance to spinal cord injury. They also have to be entirely independent and therefore can’t hold a professional or personal relationship with the researcher whose work they are reviewing.

What does the latest research reveal to people with a spinal cord injury?
The research community is driven by discovering results, which will ultimately benefit patients. A lot of institutes are now prioritizing spinal cord injury research. So the hope to achieve major breakthroughs is no longer a vision. It will become reality. What we don’t know yet is exactly how long this will take. Today the most important area in which those affected by spinal cord injury should invest their time, is rehabilitation.

*144 in total (Editor’s note)