July 12, 2022

Michigan Medicine Recognized as a Center for Excellence in Spinal Cord Research and Care

MI-SCIMS aims to expand and enhance health management for all individuals living—and aging—with SCI in Michigan and throughout the United States.


The Center for Disability Health and Wellness (CDHW) at the University of Michigan (U-M) is excited to announce that Michelle Meade, PhD, CDHW Co-Director and Professor in U-M’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and Family Medicine, has been selected as the Principal Investigator (PI) for the Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Model System (MI-SCIMS), one of 18 spinal cord injury (SCI) Centers of Excellence for SCI Research and Clinical Care in the United States.

Michelle Meade photo
Michelle Meade, PhD

MI-SCIMS aims to expand and enhance health management for all individuals living—and aging—with SCI in Michigan and throughout the United States.

The Co-PIs for this collaborative research project are Gianna Rodriguez, MD, and Michael Jakubowski, MD.

Dr. Rodriguez is the Medical Director of Michigan Medicine’s Wheelchair Seating Service and PM&R Administrator for the Michigan Bowel Control Program and the Comprehensive Wound Care Clinic. Dr. Jakubowski is the Chief Medical Officer at the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Several other CDHW members will participate in the MI-SCIMS project, including CDHW Co-Director and Family Medicine Associate Professor Michael McKee, MD, MPH, and PM&R Associate Professor Mark Peterson, PhD. Dr. McKee will lead dissemination and outreach efforts to primary care providers. In addition, the Michigan team will disseminate resources and training to individuals with SCI, their families and caregivers, healthcare professionals, and the public, in order to facilitate a continuum of care that extends from Emergency Medical Services at the time of injury to outpatient vocational services.

Dr. Gianna Rodriguez
Gianna Rodriguez, MD

Dr. Peterson will lead the site-specific research study to develop an SCI Hospitalization Risk Index. The algorithm for this Index will be developed using Machine Learning and based on information from insurance claims and patient electronic healthcare records which will allow for proactive identification of individuals with SCI at high risk for being hospitalized. With this information in hand, clinicians will be able to more appropriately tailor clinical care and enhance the decision-making and referral processes.

Other research activities include participation in the SCIMS National Database, which is the world’s most extensive SCI database, containing information on almost 50,000 people injured since 1973. In keeping with the National Database’s strategic efforts to include participants from racial and ethnic minority populations, the MI-SCIMS project will engage individuals with SCI in racially marginalized communities.

Dr. Michael Jakubowski
Michael Jakubowski, MD

The MI-SCIMS project will be launched in September 2022, and is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

“So, what does this mean for individuals with SCI seen at Michigan Medicine and across Michigan? Hopefully, it means more—more access to care, more informed providers, more resources, and more knowledge about steps that both you and your healthcare providers can take to optimize health and quality of life.”

—Dr. Michelle Meade, MI-SCIMS Principal Investigator