Board of Directors

Each Board Director is appointed by the Governor of South Carolina. The Board is comprised of the following members in each of the categories.

Category A

Two medical doctors from MUSC

Abhay K. Varma, M.D. (2023)
Mount Pleasant, SC
Dr. Abhay Varma is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the Medical University of South Carolina with special interest in management of brain and spine tumors, spine surgery, neurotrauma, and peripheral nerve disorders. Dr. Varma has been involved in clinical and laboratory research on spinal cord injury in close collaboration with basic neuroscientists. He is a member of North American Spine Society, a premier professional society of spine specialists.

Heather W. Walker, M.D. (2025)
Mount Pleasant, SC
Dr. Heather Walker is the Program Director of Neuroscience Services at the Encompass Rehabilitation Hospital in Charleston, SC. Additionally, she serves as voluntary faculty in the Division of Neurosurgery at the Medical University of South and is the medical student clerkship director for the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation elective rotation. She was previously a member of the PM&R faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2007 to 2014, and during her appointment at UNC she served as the Medical Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Program as well as the PM&R Residency Program Director. She is board certified in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as the subspecialties Spinal Cord Injury Medicine and Brain Injury Medicine. She was named to the “Best Doctors in America” list in 2013 to 2016. She has been involved in research and publications focusing on spasticity management, and enjoys incorporating spasticity management into her outpatient clinic practice.

Category B

Two medical doctors at large specializing or significantly engaged in the treatment of people with a spinal cord injury

Jeffrey M. Derbas, M.D. (2025)
Greenville, SC
Dr. Jeffrey Derbas is the Spinal Cord Injury Medical Director at Roger C Peace Rehabilitation Hospital of the Prisma Health System.  He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Spinal Cord Injury Medicine.  Dr. Derbas is also Physical Medicine Rehabilitation Clinical Faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.

David J. Powell, III, M.D. (2026)
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Dr. Powell is the Medical Director at the Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Roper Rehabilitation Hospital/St. Francis Health Care System in Charleston.

Category C

Two SC citizens who have a spinal cord injury or a family member with a spinal cord injury

Victoria L. Turgeon, Ph.D. (2026)
Greenville, SC
After receiving her Ph.D. in 1998 in Neurobiology and Anatomy from Wake Forest University, Dr. Victoria Turgeon secured a position on the faculty at Furman University in the Biology Department and as a member of the interdisciplinary Neuroscience Major. Since that time, she has advanced to the position of Full Professor and has served two terms as the Director of the Neuroscience Major. Most recently, she was appointed Director of the Master of Science in Community Engaged Medicine. Prior to entering graduate school, her boyfriend and now husband sustained a C6/C7 spinal cord injury in a car accident. Learning more about his condition and available treatments propelled her into this research area which she continues to pursue with her undergraduate students. Continuing to work with undergraduates provides unique opportunities to expand knowledge to treat primary and secondary conditions associated with spinal cord injuries, increase public awareness of the barriers faced by those with mobility challenges, and inspire the next generation of researchers.

Sherwood L. Toatley (2027) - CHAIR
Chapin, SC
Mr. Sherwood L. Toatley is currently a Spinal Cord Injury Peer Navigator with the Medical University of South Carolina.  He has worked for the City of Columbia since 2010 as a 911 Administrative Assistant/Telecommunicator and as a 911 Shift Manager from 1999-2009.  Mr. Toatley has been involved with the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association since 2010 and served as the President from 2014-2018.  He sustained a C1/C2 incomplete spinal cord injury at the age of 11 as a result of a bicycle accident.   

Category D

One at large medical doctor who is a member of the SC Medical Association

Stephen E. Rawe, M.D./Ph.D. (2024)
Charleston, SC
Dr. Stephen Rawe graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed his residency at Yale – New Haven Medical Center, and earned a Ph.D. in neuroanatomy from MUSC, where he served as an associate professor. Dr. Rawe is board certified in neurosurgery and was the first neurosurgeon in the Charleston area to perform pedicle screw instrumentation, kyphoplasty and artificial cervical disc surgery. He continues to be involved in innovative spinal fusion techniques and has extensive experience with the interspinous process distraction for spinal stenosis. Dr. Rawe is a founding member of the South Carolina Spine Society and served as its first president.

The Board of Directors holds in-person meetings, usually 2 to 3 per year, to address the organization of the SCIRF as well as directional goals. Meeting dates and locations are listed below. The Board of Directors is responsible for reviewing and voting on all grants awarded as well as budgets for Administrative and Research Core functions.

March 29, 2024 - USC in Columbia
October 27, 2023
- Clemson University at Patewood in Greenville
April 14, 2023 - MUSC in Charleston
October 28, 2022 - Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville
April 29, 2022 - Roper Rehabilitation Hospital in Charleston
October 22, 2021 -  Virtual
March 12, 2021 - Virtual
November 6, 2020 - Virtual
May 1, 2020 - Virtual
November 8, 2019 - Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in North Charleston
April 26, 2019
 - Furman University in Greenville
November 2, 2018 - USC in Columbia
March 30, 2018 - MUSC in Charleston
November 3, 2017 - Clemson University at Patewood in Greenville
April 21, 2017 - MUSC in Charleston
December 9, 2016 - MUSC in Charleston
April 8, 2016 - Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville
November 13, 2015 - USC School of Medicine in Columbia
April 17, 2015 - Roper St. Francis Hospital in North Charleston
October 17, 2014 - Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville
May 2, 2014 – Healthsouth Rehabilitation in Columbia

See previous Annual Reports for earlier Board meeting dates and photos.