London’s premier research celebration to feature actor Alec Baldwin

Western University is pleased to announce that this year’s Leaders in Innovation Dinner will focus on spinal cord research, and feature award-winning actor, author and spinal cord research advocate Alec Baldwin.

 July 09, 2012

 July 09, 2012

Western University is pleased to announce that this year’s Leaders in Innovation Dinner will focus on spinal cord research, and feature award-winning actor, author and spinal cord research advocate Alec Baldwin. The dinner, which takes place on Monday, November 19th at 5:00 p.m. at the London Convention Centre, celebrates two decades of groundbreaking spinal cord research at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Robarts Research Institute.

More than 12,000 spinal cord injuries occur each year in North America, and approximately 275,000 people live with permanent, serious disabilities due to spinal cord injury.  More than 80 per cent of all spinal cord injuries occur to individuals under the age of 34.  Robarts’ scientists Lynne Weaver, Greg Dekaban, Arthur Brown, Paula Foster, and their dedicated teams have made significant research breakthroughs providing new hope for improved neurological outcomes that will enhance the quality of life for people living with a spinal cord injury.

One of the highlights of the evening will be the presentation of the prestigious J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine.  This year’s recipient is Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton, PhD, UCLA distinguished professor in the Department of Integrated Biology and Physiology.  His research pioneered the rehabilitation strategy of treadmill training after a spinal cord injury, and the added benefits of epidural electrical stimulation.  Edgerton and his colleagues published a paper in Lancet last year showing how a person who was completely paralyzed for more than two years, was able to stand independently and have some voluntary leg movement using epidural spinal stimulation and treadmill training.  This exciting breakthrough is now being followed up in a study with additional patients.

Baldwin is a longtime supporter of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation which was established after the Superman star was paralyzed in 1995 in an equestrian accident. Last year, Baldwin shared the stage with Meryl Streep co-hosting a fundraising gala for the Foundation, and we are very pleased that he will now share his humor and insight at the Leaders in Innovation Dinner.  Baldwin has appeared in over forty films, including Beetle Juice, Working Girl, Miami Blues, The Hunt for Red October, The Aviator, It’s Complicated, and Rock of Ages.

On television Baldwin currently stars with Tina Fey on NBC’s “30 Rock”, winner of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Baldwin has received five SAG Awards, three Golden Globes, the Television Critics Award and two Emmy awards as Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance on the show. In 2011, Baldwin received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

During the event, Baldwin will share highlights from his career and information about upcoming projects, as well as talk about his personal commitment to spinal cord research. He will also join the Dean of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in a discussion focused on the pressure placed on universities to produce research findings, and the politics that can overlap with the research undertaken.

“We see the Leaders in Innovation Dinner as a night to really celebrate the excellence and scope of the research being conducted at Robarts and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.  This year we are recognizing a dedicated and passionate group of Robarts scientists working to find new therapies to help the thousands of people who are paralyzed with spinal cord injuries,” says Dr. Michael Strong, Dean of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and Interim Scientific Director of Robarts. “We want to build upon the success of last year’s dinner which featured Michael J. Fox, and make this a night when we are both entertained and inspired to do what we can to move this research forward.”  CBC News Morning Anchor and long-time friend of Robarts, Heather Hiscox will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Tickets for the Leaders in Innovation dinner are $250 and can be ordered online.  A photo of Dr. Edgerton and Alec Baldwin are available upon request.

Media contact: Kathy Wallis, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, 519-661-2111 ext. 81136,


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