Qld Brain Institute gains $650,000 spinal research bequest from courageous Lisa Palmer


A young quadriplegic woman's courageous life and premature death may lead eventually to a cure for people paralysed by spinal injury.

The Vice-Chancellor of The University of Queensland, Professor John Hay, AC, today accepted a bequest of $650,000 from the estate of Lisa Denise Palmer, who died of cancer after living with a paralysing spinal injury.

"It is a great honour to accept this grant from SpinalCure Australia for the Lisa Palmer Spinal Research Consortium, headed by the Queensland Brain Institute," Professor Hay said at UQ's Customs House in Brisbane.

"It is one of Australia's largest private grants for spinal research, and is recognition of the outstanding research underway at the University's Queensland Brain Institute.

"The bequest comes to us from a thoughtful young woman whose legacy may eventually be a cure for paralysis caused by spinal injury.

"Paralysis caused by spinal injury affects about 18,000 Australians. Every day another Australian suffers this type of injury and the average age of Australians when injured is 19.

"Lisa Palmer's legacy will fuel the quest for a cure; her contribution may one day prove to be priceless.

"Importantly, it will contribute to work towards a centre for brain and spinal cord repair at the Queensland Brain Institute," Professor Hay said.

Lisa Palmer died of inoperable cancer in 2004, when she was 29 years old.

The cancer ended a courageous battle against spinal injuries that Lisa had suffered while aged in her early twenties.

An evening car accident on a NSW country road in 1997 left Lisa with quadriplegia and dependent on a ventilator.

SpinalCure Australia CEO Bob Turner, who presented a cheque to Professor Hay, said the executors of Lisa's estate and SpinalCure Australia had agreed that the bequest should be used to fund the consortium. The consortium comprises the Queensland Brain Institute, Queensland Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne Centre for Neuroscience.

Mr Turner said: "The Queensland Brain Institute's exemplary work was chosen from an impressive list of projects.

"The Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland is clearly a prestigious centre where outstanding work is being carried out.

"We are delighted that the Lisa Palmer Spinal Research Consortium will significantly contribute to this centre of excellence in Australia, which we believe is making a major contribution to spinal research."

Professor Perry Bartlett, Director of the Queensland Brain Institute, said the bequest would fund three years of basic scientific research with part of the bequest being set aside for human clinical trials in the fourth year.

"Lisa Palmer's generosity will boost our pioneering research into the regeneration of damaged spinal cords," Professor Bartlett said.

"It will also help kick start the establishment of a centre for brain and spinal cord repair at the Queensland Brain Institute.

"It will allow the team at the Queensland Brain Institute and our consortium colleagues to further our discovery that inhibiting the molecule EphA4 leads to spinal cord repair.

"Lisa's bequest will help us attain the goal of commencing human clinical trials in 2008," Professor Bartlett said.

Professor Bartlett and Professor Andrew Boyd at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research will work with Dr Ann Turnley of the Neural Regeneration Laboratory in the Centre of Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne and Professor Mary Galea from the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne.

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