Ida Cahill

Whoa, that was a fast break. Managed to get 3 bites of banana muffin into my mouth.

Marilyn is bring up the emcee for the rest of the day — my pal Barry Long.

Thanks for being here & welcome to Seattle — so you know, this is blue Friday. We have this football team that won some game or other last year. We’re still feeling it.

Just recently I was driving my wife’s car and I got a ticket for parking in a dis spot. I went to city hall to get the ticket taken care of . . . I gave her my dis tag and she looked at it and said, “Well, your disability expires in March.” (laughter) My wife is going to be so happy to hear that!

He’s talking now about how Tricia from Pushing Boundaries helped to bring this conference to Seattle, and how glad we all are to have you.

Ida Cahill is the president and CEO of Conquer Paralysis Now, which is a project of the Sam Schmidt Foundation. Comes with a long resume in SCI research.

She speaks: I’m from the New Jersey area, Philadelphia Eagle territory . . . so congratulations. We’d like to have one of those games! I’m so happy to be here and talk about a journey that our foundation took a number of years ago. Some people here were in the room from day one, including Keith Tansey and Reggie Edgerton and Wise Young. We couldn’t have done any of this without their encouragement.

We used to be called the Sam Schmidt Foundation, but we changed our name to reflect what it is we’re doing. I have to give credit to Sam for that . . . it was his idea. Sam’s a former Indy 500 race car driver. He’s a c-3-4-5. His family was told to find him a nursing home. ha ha.

He has an Indy team that has won the championship five times. He’s part owner of a lift company called Brawn. And so on. Forget the nursing home. In response to those who say stop dreaming and face reality, I say you have it backwards. Keep dreaming and make reality.

Facts and figures are up. 5.6 million live with paralysis in the USA. 1.3 million people in the USA have a SCI, 62% of them have incomes of $25k or less.

So . . . what to do about speeding up the research. She’s talking about a book called Purple Cow. It’s a thing that gets your attention. So they went looking for their own Purple Cow. And they started thinking about competitions. In 1714 the British solved the question of what longitude is with a prize. Napoleon solved the problem of food storage with a prize. In 1927 Charles Lindbergh won $25,000 for crossing the Atlantic. In 2004 there was a $10,000,000 prize to launch a 3 person spacecraft to 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface.

So we went there. We went to researchers all over the world and asked these questions: waht are the current market failures? what breakthroughs are needed? what is the biggest challenge? And we brought together researchres 3 years ago and forced them to answer these questions with one word.

And we decided out of that exercise to offer a competition. The goal was to foster collaboration within the field, foster collaboration outside the area of expertise, and speed the pace of research.

The challenge we designed was broken into 3 stages, each one building on the last. I’m here to tell you that we’re awarding the stage 1 grants today.

The stage 1 grants will total $4 million. All aimed at chronic injuries. No research aimed at acutes.

The areas are translation, being out of the box, being able to reach and grasp. There will also be 72 trial and error prizes. The plan here is to prevent the loss of time, money and effort by allowing people to share their “failure” with one another. She’s quoting Edison, who tried 2000 filaments before he found the one that worked.

They’ve identified areas of mentorship, all of which have to do with translation: FDA Process, things like that. The scientific advisory committee includes Hideyuki Okano, Dalton Dietrich, Shawn Hochman, Amin Curt, and others. It’s an impressive list.

She’s showing us a long list of people who have been part of designing this program.

The 2nd stage will be models: animal, human

The 3rd will be a 10 million dollar prize to be awarded to a team for having reached the goals they’ve named.

Question: How are you publicizing? What can we do to help?

Answer: We have a team called Innocentive . . . the media is now focused on ebola, but we appreciate all your help spreading the word in any way you can. What we’re doing is right for us. We want everybody else to keep doing what they’re doing — the Neilsen Foundation, the Reeve Foundation — we all have our areas.

Question: When will there be a formal document that we can look at to find exact requirements.

Answer: They’re in lawyer’s hands. We want approval by November so we can start giving out money by next year.

YAY!!!

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