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The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is a unique research center for many reasons, but probably one of the most important reasons is the leveraging power made possible by all of the donors to The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.

In today’s world of grant funding, the pool of applicants is increasing while the pot of available funds is remaining level or, in some cases, decreasing or disappearing altogether.  Hence, in order for grant applications to be competitive, preliminary data regarding the research questions being tested need to be included to show the likelihood of success if funded.  However, that creates a situation similar to “having the cart before the horse”.  How is one supposed to generate data without funds to conduct the experiments?  That is where philanthropy becomes critically important and The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis has been instrumental in making possible significant scientific advances in the field of spinal cord injury.  

All of the private funds that have been generously donated to The Miami Project via The Buoniconti Fund over the last 25 years have enabled our researchers to generate the crucial preliminary data necessary to be awarded larger grants to further enhance our understanding of trauma to the nervous system and work towards developing effective therapeutic interventions.  The ability to purchase supplies for experiments and support personnel to conduct the experiments, without fear of interruption between grants, is critical to the success of The Miami Project in carrying out its mission.

At this 25 year landmark, we’d like to highlight how this some of this seed money from many generous donors has been used to leverage additional, large sources of funding and has been critical to advancing the scientific understanding of spinal cord injury.



Pilot research by Dr. Ian Hentall led to the discovery that electrical stimulation in the brainstem can improve behavioral and anatomical recovery when given within a few days after spinal cord injury in rats.  Philanthropic funds were used to develop a special wireless brain stimulator for long term implantation in rats, as well as to study improvements in locomotor behavior following spinal cord injury.  As a result, additional competitive funding was obtained from the DoD and CHNF. 


Additionally, Dr. Brian Noga received support to study 1) spinal neurotransmitter release during stimulation of brainstem regions important for the control of locomotion, 2) transmitter concentrations within the spinal cord following their topical application or microinjection, and 3) for research regarding the descending monoaminergic (serotonin and noradrenaline) innervation of spinal locomotor central pattern generating neurons.  As a result, he was awarded a large NIH grant to further understand how brainstem stimulation can be used to enhance function after spinal cord injury and currently has another NIH grant under review, and has published 5 manuscripts already with another 2 in progress.

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