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Dr. WenHuacong Wen, M.D., Ph.D., Statistical Analyst for the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) located within the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine has received a $100,000 grant from the Paralyzed Veterans of America's Research Foundation.

Dr. Wen was award the grant for her project, “Advance Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Research through Data Harmonization, Curation, and Integrative Data Analysis: Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems and Veterans Health Administration Spinal Cord Injury.” The aim of this research is to match and organize the data from the Model Systems’ and VHA’s databases and demonstrate the use of the matched and organized dataset to answer two research questions. First, this study will project the demographic and health profile of people currently living with traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI) in the U.S. to help project needs and allocate resources for health care and social supports. Second, the study will estimate life expectancy and associated factors for people with tSCI in the U.S. to help clinicians target high-risk groups for treatment to improve life expectancy.

“This study will provide a foundation for further expanding with other tSCI databases, linkage with other data sources, and probabilistic matching with data collected from other clinical settings. Also, building on my previous research experience with SCIMS Database, I will be able to advance my knowledge in different SCI systems of care, large dataset research, epidemiology, and biostatistics. I’m very excited that this study is funded and look forward to learning from the mentors,” stated Dr. Wen.

Dr. Wen began her work with the NSCISC as a pre-doctoral fellow in 2016 before becoming a post-doctoral fellow and Statistical Analyst in 2019.

“I am very excited about this project. It’s the first time in 53 years of SCI Model Systems history that the two largest tSCI registries in the U.S. will be linked and together provide a more complete picture of people living with tSCI in this country,” says Professor Yuying Chen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Wen was trained as a physiatrist in China and earned a Ph.D. from UAB in Rehabilitation Science with an emphasis on large dataset research. She has been involved in many projects as a statistician, applying advanced technique in longitudinal research and survival analysis.