New Institute of Regenerative Medicine being generated at VMC!

“As a physician and researcher at Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA, I was very gratified to see world leaders in spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine come together in conferences on the Stanford campus two weeks ago.  This collaboration is remarkable and essential for translating regeneration research into clinical treatments.

SCVMC Rehab has played a key role in forming these collaborations through the efforts of Dr. Stephen McKenna and his pioneering work in the first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells for spinal cord injury. SCVMC stands to be a pillar in translational research for SCI, through the visionary leadership of Dr. Jeff Smith and Liz Kniss and Santa Clara County, which has set up the Silicon Valley Institute for Regenerative Medicine. I congratulate all involved and look forward to exciting breakthroughs in this field.”

Graham Creasey, MD

Spinal Cord injury Service, VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine, Stanford University

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You may remember Katie Sharify, the young woman who made history at Valley Medical Center a year ago, when she received stem cells into her spinal cord in a ground-breaking procedure. Since then, a lot has happened. A whole lot, in fact.

First, readers of this blog may remember that VMC is now the home of the Silicon Valley Institute of Regenerative Medicine – “regenerative” meaning to use robotics, molecules and stem cells to actually cure paralysis. We are a long way off, but we have to start somewhere…and somewhere is here. And now.

Second, just after the Board of Supervisors voted for the creation of the “SV Institute”, VMC helped plan and sponsor a conference at Stanford called Regeneration, Repair and Restoration of Function after Spinal Cord Injury. The conference brought experts from around the world to Silicon Valley and examined, among a range of topics and discussions, the lessons learned from recent clinical trials of spinal cord interventions as well as knowledge management and dissemination moving forward.

Third, you may also remember that the initial trial was sponsored by a firm called Geron, who discontinued their funding of the trial just as Katie was enrolling. Well, for a number of reasons it looks like Geron is back – so watch this space for more updates on this potentially exciting development.

Because, we now know full well that launching a new field of medicine cannot be done by one corporation, or one hospital…it needs to be a collaboration between (in our case) VMC, Stanford, UCSF, the Palo Alto VA, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and many others. The launch of this collaborative has been documented expertly by David Alvarado, award-winning film maker, in his 7-minute documentary “The Cure”.

Please take the time to watch this video (above). You’ll meet some of the world’s experts and advocates in this brand-new field, including VMC’s own Stephen McKenna MD. You’ll also learn how the political will of Santa Clara County helped create this new Institute.

If you are thinking “how can I help?” then I like the way you think! Many already have, including a major gift from the Mulcahy and DiNapoli Families. If you want to be a part of this game-changing work, let us know in the comment section below.