Dr. Brian Kwon receives the inaugural Turnbull-Tator Award in Spinal Cord Injury and Concussion Research

TORONTO, November 8, 2019 – Dr. Brian K. Kwon has been named the recipient of the 2019 Turnbull-Tator Award in Spinal Cord Injury and Concussion Research, for his publication “Spinal cord perfusion pressure predicts neurological recovery in acute spinal cord injury” in Neurology. The Turnbull-Tator Award, presented in partnership by the Barbara Turnbull Foundation for Spinal Cord Research and the Brain Canada Foundation, with the financial support of Health Canada, recognizes an outstanding publication by a Canadian researcher in the field of spinal cord and brain injury research with a $50,000 prize. Dr. Kwon will be presented with the Turnbull-Tator Award at the 18th annual Tator-Turnbull Spinal Cord Injury Symposium at Toronto Western Hospital on Friday, November 8th.

“This paper represents a large collaborative team effort from spine surgeons, intensivists, anaesthesiologists, nursing, basic scientists, and trainees across Canada and the United States,” said Dr. Kwon, Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury and Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of British Columbia. While the paper identifies a potentially better way to manage the acutely injured spinal cord injury (SCI) patient, the broader study has also led to the identification of neurochemical biomarkers, insights into genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, and the establishment of a biobank for the international SCI research community. These initiatives were funded by the Rick Hansen Institute (now Praxis Spinal Cord Institute) and the Brain Canada Foundation.

“We are also humbled to have our work recognized by the Barbara Turnbull Foundation and Brain Canada, acknowledging that our paper is only one of many papers that have been published by an outstanding body of Canadian researchers who – like us – are striving to improve the lives of those who have suffered this devastating injury,” added Dr. Kwon.

“Barbara advocated for finding a cure, or some method of permanent remediation, which is a more effective long term solution than providing the otherwise needed funding for continuing care,” said Gary Goldberg, a director of the Barbara Turnbull Foundation for Spinal Cord Research.

The Turnbull-Tator Award was originally established in 2001 in honour of Barbara Turnbull, and known as the Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research, in recognition of Barbara’s tireless efforts to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries, and her advocacy for excellence in research done in Canada in this field.

“We congratulate Dr. Brian Kwon, one of Canada’s research stars, for leading a truly collaborative project which bridges the gap between basic research and clinical translation to patients. Additionally, his team’s work is relevant to our broader understanding of the brain and nervous system with potential application to biomarker development and biobanking,” said Inez Jabalpurwala, President and CEO of the Brain Canada Foundation.

SCI occurs when trauma or disease damages the spinal cord, resulting in partial or complete paralysis. It is estimated that 86,000 Canadians are living with a SCI, with 4,300 new cases each year. Traumatic brain injury is a spectrum of injuries ranging from concussion to major disruption of the brain tissue, all of which can result in long-term complications or death. Concussion is a leading cause of disability in Canada, with approximately 200,000 concussions annually. Both brain and spinal cord injuries have significant impact on productivity, health, quality of life and well-being of affected individuals.

 “It is my privilege to be associated with Barbara Turnbull in the naming of this award. Barbara was a great Canadian because she was a strong advocate for many causes to advance the well-being of Canadians who found themselves in need, especially those with life altering injuries to the brain or spinal cord. She believed that, through research, their lives could be made better, and this is the essence of the award in our names. We are making a great start because the reviewers have picked an outstanding inaugural recipient, Dr. Brian Kwon, whose research is highly likely to make lives better,” said Dr. Charles Tator, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. Dr. Tator chaired the international review panel which recommended this paper for the inaugural Turnbull-Tator Award.

About the Barbara Turnbull Foundation for Spinal Cord Research

The initial purpose of the Foundation was to encourage the public to recognize and financially support internationally esteemed research being done in Canada in the field of neuroscience, particularly as it relates to the remediation of spinal cord injuries. More recently, the Foundation has expanded its area of interest to include both spinal cord and brain injuries, including concussions. Great advances have been made in neuroscience, and the driving force that encouraged Barbara Turnbull to write her autobiography Looking in the Mirror was the realization that these advances may make the goal of regaining function in the damaged nervous system attainable. Through continued research, there is the possibility of new discoveries which may result in repair or regeneration of the spinal cord and brain after injury. Successful remediation will greatly improve the quality of life of those who have been affected by neurotrauma, as well as reduce the ongoing costs of providing associated care and support.

Based on a synergistic approach that recognizes excellence in collaborative research in Canada in the field of neuroscience, the mission of the Foundation is to enhance public awareness of the need to financially support this vision, to develop strategic cooperative initiatives with other institutions and foundations with similar interest, such as Brain Canada, and to fund the highest quality research in spinal cord and brain injury being conducted in Canada.

About Brain Canada

Brain Canada is a national registered charity that enables and supports excellent, innovative, and paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. Brain Canada’s vision is to understand the brain, in health and illness, to improve lives and achieve societal impact. For two decades, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries. Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families.

Brain Canada raises and leverages funds from a range of donors and partners, including individuals, corporations, foundations, research institutes, health charities, and provincial agencies. To date, Brain Canada and its supporters have invested $250 million in 300 research projects across the country.

To find out more, visit: www.braincanada.ca

About the Turnbull-Tator Award

Applications for the Turnbull-Tator Award were reviewed by members of a review panel composed of Canadian and international experts with experience in the relevant field(s) of spinal cord or brain injury research. Based on the reviewers’ scores and panel discussion, the review panel recommended the strongest candidate to the Barbara Turnbull Foundation and Brain Canada.

This year, the Barbara Turnbull Foundation and Brain Canada have partnered and expanded the scope of the award to include traumatic brain injury and concussion research, and to reposition the award to recognize a recent publication that significantly impacts those fields. Accordingly, the award sponsors have decided to change the name of the Award to reflect the very close relationship, sense of common purpose, and aligned missions of both Barbara Turnbull and her neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Tator, to promote awareness of the impact of spinal cord injury and its prevention, research into its treatment, and a better understanding of the nature, diagnosis, and treatment of concussion and traumatic brain injury. The Turnbull-Tator Award will be presented annually.


Matthieu Watson Santerre
Communications Officer, Brain Canada Foundation
514 989-2989 #110