What Does “Disruptive” mean? Thoughts on the NIH SCI 2020 Meeting

SCI 2020

What Does “Disruptive” mean? Thoughts on the NIH SCI…

On September 12 and 13, 2019, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), as well as other federal agencies and several private foundations sponsored a stakeholder meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Bethesda campus with a provocative title: SCI 2020: Launching a decade for disruption in spinal cord injury research”. Over the past decade, “disruptive” has become a cool buzzword for entrepreneurs to use to market their technology. In this context, disruptive means “innovative, ingenious, and unconventional” (typically definition #2 in online dictionaries). The hope is their new technology or business model is so powerful it will upend current technologies and come to dominate the marketplace. Uber’s destruction of taxi companies worldwide is a leading example of being “disruptive”.

Over the past decade or so there are at least four examples of disruptive research impacting spinal cord injury (SCI) research: Park and his colleagues discovered that PTEN KO makes retinal ganglion cell axons regenerate (Park et al., 2008); Harkema, Edgerton, and colleagues’ studies suggest that epidural stimulation can enable walking in SCI patients (Harkema et al., 2011); Lu, Tuszynski and colleagues’ demonstration that neural stem cell transplants produce dramatic axon growth and behavioral recovery (Lu et al., 2012). Kigerl and Popovich’s microbiome studies uncovered a surprisingly strong interaction between the gut and SCI (Kigerl et al., 2016). These disruptive results have spurred a large amount of SCI research but translation to the clinic lags. Nonetheless, their impact shows that new ideas and approaches are critical for large steps forward. A meeting about disruption in SCI research over the next decade could not be ignored.

However, disruption has another and, indeed, primary definition: “unruly, rowdy, disorderly, and attention-seeking”. It was hard to imagine that the SCI 2020 meeting would be about this. A review of the agenda, however, did not highlight new disruptive technologies or ideas that would help SCI researchers leap forward or quickly bring new therapies to the clinic. Perhaps the meeting organizers had this second definition in mind.

Read more . . . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6557104/#

Lemmon VP. What does “Disruptive” mean? Thoughts on the NIH SCI 2020 meetingNeural Regen Res. 2019;14(9):1527-1529. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.255969