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Paralysis is on the rise and is the leading cause of disability in the United States yet, in the year 2016, most patients still have little hope of walking again. Surprisingly, the very anatomical structure responsible for most cases of paralysis, the spinal cord, has been poorly mapped. Therefore, the Seattle Science Foundation has embarked on the production of the first detailed atlas of the human spinal cord. This multi-tiered project will analyze the human spinal cord to a degree that has never been done before. The goal of this ambitious project is to provide the clinician and researcher with a survey that will allow for highly specific views of each layer of the spinal cord and its microcircuitry. With this in mind, the physician could imagine placing discreet electrodes into eloquent nuclei of the cord with a precision that would allow for stimulation of specific muscles. Such stimulation might afford a paralyzed patient the ability to move muscles below the level of their injury. Researchers would also have a better understanding of the spinal cord and use the data derived from this project to improve patient care and improve our understanding of the spinal cord.


The first phase of the project will address the normal spinal cord.


The second phase will analyze diseased spinal cords from patients with, for example, multiple sclerosis, stroke and ALS. This latter atlas could help clinicians and researchers better understand the microanatomy involved in pathological spinal cords. Both atlases will culminate in the production of first of their kind 3D models of the spinal cord.

As part of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Platform, both a registry and tissue bank will also be established. These resources will allow patients afflicted with diseased spinal cords to contribute to our ongoing efforts by donating their tissues after death and therefore provide a database accessible for continued research. Collectively, the spinal cord atlases, registry, and tissue bank will further our efforts in better understanding the human spinal cord and hopefully, developing novel and innovative approaches to returning the ability to walk to paralyzed patients. Scientists will have access to the most comprehensive platform for research and innovation related to spinal cord injury and disease. Importantly, physicians will have a fully developed platform to allow them to test new technologies as they become available.

Check-out how a retired Seattle Seahawks player has made a huge comeback off the field after a life-changing injury. We're excited to announce a NEW CHAMPION for Spinal Cord Injury Research at the Seattle Science Foundation. Hear how Ricardo Lockette is using the strength of his recovery to make a positive impact on the lives of others.



Seven physicians from around the world gathered together to discuss the current landscape of SCI research!  Join Jens Chapman, M.D., Rod Oskouian, M.D., Thomas Schildhauer, M.D., Michael Fehlings, M.D., Ph.D., James Harrop, M.D., Shekar Kurpad, M.D., Ph.D., and Brian Kwon, M.D., Ph.D. for this four part series.

The Seattle Science Foundation boasts a large group of anatomical and clinical fellows from partnering medical centers who together are helping change the way we move forward with our understanding of human anatomy. Click here to view our full catalog.

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