Dr. Cathy Craven appointed Cope Family Chair in Spinal Cord Injury Health Systems Innovation at UHN

New appointment will allow Dr. Craven to advance research and improve the health, wellness and quality of life for patients with spinal cord injury or disease.

KITE senior scientist Dr. Cathy Craven has been appointed the Cope Family Chair in Spinal Cord Injury Health Systems Innovation at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) at University Health Network (UHN) for a five-year term. 

The chair is part of a generous $1.7 million donation to UHN from George and Tami Cope. 

In her role as Cope Family Chair Dr. Craven will work to advance research and improve the health, wellness and quality of life for patients with SCI, by providing patients information and tools to help  self-manage  their health conditions and achieve their goals of neurorecovery and full community integration. 

“I would like to thank the Cope Family for their support and vision for evolving rehabilitation research and care for individuals living with spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Craven, who is the medical director of the Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program at TRI, a member of KITE’s Spinal Cord Injury team, Chair of the Pride In Patient Engagement in Research (PiPER) Steering Committee at UHN and a Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Toronto. 

“This funding will allow me to focus on what really matters, how best to evolve the quality of care and caring in the Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program. I plan to develop, refine and implement health systems innovations for individuals living with spinal cord injury or disease - locally and nationally” 

TRI’s Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program is the largest program of its kind in Canada. It provides inpatient and outpatient services that act as an essential link in the continuum of care – from acute hospital care to rehabilitation and a successful return to the community – for people who live with the life-altering consequences of spinal cord injury or disease. 

The program supports 330 individuals with new injuries each year and over 20,000 outpatient visits per year, with many patients and their family caregivers coming from all over the province, including distances of 150 kilometres or more.

Dr. Craven is an internationally renowned expert in the field of SCI rehabilitation. Thanks to her leadership, UHN’s SCI research program, and as a result Toronto’s standing in the field, has grown exponentially in the last two decades and was recently recognized by Nature — the world's leading multidisciplinary science journal.

Dr. Craven’s priorities as chair include: reducing deaths due to heart disease, diabetes or fracture among individuals living with spinal cord injury; and develop rehabilitation models of care using a “precision medicine lens” whereby treatments are tailored to the needs of the individual on the basis of a variety of characteristics that make the individual unique from others with a similar presentation or risk strata.

“Dr. Craven is one of the leading voices in the field of spinal cord injury care, research and rehabilitation. This new chair will allow her to continue to develop and deliver new therapies and approaches to care that improve the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injuries,” said Dr. Milos R. Popovic, director of both KITE and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.