Executive Director

Catherine Leigh Graham, MEBME, started as the Executive Director of the SCIRF in January 2014. Ms. Graham is a rehabilitation engineer who comes to the SCIRF from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine's Interagency Office of Disability and Health. She served as a SCIRF board member prior to becoming the SCIRF Executive Director. Ms. Graham has prior service with the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs and is a past President of the SC Spinal Cord Injury Association.

Scientific Director

James S. Krause, Ph.D., holds the rank of Professor and serves as the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He serves as Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Research in Neurologic Conditions and Scientific Director of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund which provides funding for basic, applied, and interdisciplinary studies of spinal cord injury (SCI). Dr. Krause also serves as Director on two federally funded centers including the Center on Health Outcomes Research and Capacity Building for Underserved Populations with SCI and TBI and the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Secondary Conditions in Individuals with SCI. He has served as principal investigator on 12 additional federal research grants of long-term outcomes and SCI. These include a 35-year longitudinal study of SCI, two longitudinal studies of vocational interests, two studies of secondary conditions, and four studies of mortality. He was also principal investigator of two projects within the SCI Model Systems and currently serves as a consultant on the Georgia SCI Model Systems Center. Dr. Krause has served as first author on over 90 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has made over 150 presentations at national and international professional conferences. He has published extensively on SCI including the areas of employment, vocational interests, quality of life, health and secondary conditions, and risk for early mortality. A substantial portion of his research work has also focused on disparities in health behaviors, employment, and health outcomes among Caucasian, African-American, Latino, and Native American participants with SCI.

Associate Scientific Director

Dr. Naren Banik, Ph.D. received his Ph.D. From the University of London, UK in 1970, involved in research related to brain development, myelination, and demyelinating disease multiple sclerosis (MS), while working at The Institute of Neurology, Queen square, London. Subsequently, he joined Stanford University in 1974 and continued his research on MS in the Department of Neurology at VA Hospital, Palo Alto, California. Dr. Banik joined the Department of Neurology, MUSC in 1976 and, in addition to research on MS, he started investigating the mechanisms involved in tissue destruction in SCI and identified the role of increased intracellular calcium and proteases that can damage and destroy cells and tissue after SCI. That prompted him to examine agents that can protect and preserve cells and their processes for recovery of function following injury. Some of these agents, for example, estrogen, melatonin, calpain inhibitors, and others, following administration have been found to have beneficial effects in animal models of SCI. To this end, estrogen received IND approval for a safety trial in the clinic at MUSC, and no adverse effects have been noted following treatment of a few individuals with SCI.
The research on SCI has been supported by NIH for than three decades, his research also supported by the funds from SC-SCIRF, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans Administration Medical Research. He has made seminal discoveries in SCI research since the move to Charleston. He is currently a Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery Department, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Department and a Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at MUSC. He also has an appointment as a Health Science Research Investigator at Veterans Administration Medical Center, Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, Charleston. His current research interest includes SCI, MS, Parkinson's disease, brain trauma, brain tumor and other related neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Banik has served as the Associate Scientific Director of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund since 2007.