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Home > Research > Research Interests



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.


Dr. Nancy Brackett has been leading the highly successful Male Fertility Research Program.  For most of us, becoming a parent is an important goal in life.  We may take this goal for granted, and expect that when the time is right, achieving this goal will be no problem.  What happens to this goal if we have a spinal cord injury?  Many spinal cord injuries occur to young people who are at the peak of their reproductive lives.  The desire for children remains strong in men and women with spinal cord injury. 


For most women with spinal cord injury, conception is possible without medical intervention.  In contrast, most men with spinal cord injury are infertile.  The Miami Project Male Fertility Research Program was created in 1990 to understand and improve impairments to male fertility as a result of spinal cord injury.  When the program was created, little was known about this topic.  It was not known that most men with spinal cord injury have a unique semen profile characterized by normal sperm numbers, but abnormally low sperm motility.  It was not known that toxic factors in the seminal plasma contribute to this problem.  An algorithm of treatment had not yet been established.  Thanks in large part to philanthropy provided to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, physicians and scientists in the Male Fertility Research Program have made these discoveries as well as many more. 


The Miami Project Male Fertility Research Program is now widely recognized as the world leader in this field and has received grants from the NIH, CHNF, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (CDRF), and the Paralyzed Veterans Association (PVA).  Before this program started, men with spinal cord injury were often told: “You will never father children.” 


Now, most men with spinal cord injury can expect not only to father children, but to be provided with a treatment plan optimized for their needs.  The work of the Male Fertility Research Program continues to improve the quality of life for countless men with spinal cord injury and their loved ones.

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