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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.


As a direct result of philanthropic funding, Dr. Edelle Field-Fote demonstrated for the first time ever that a specific hand training therapy program could induce some recovery of hand function in individuals with chronic cervical spinal cord injury, and that there were changes in the brain that accompanied the improved function.  This generated 2 research publications and a large NIH grant award to continue understanding and optimizing this training program to translate it to the clinical realm. 


Two current pilot studies enabled by private donations involve the use of whole body vibration to enhance the outcome of locomotor training and the Children’s Locomotor Training Summer Camp. 


Dr. Christine Thomas has recently utilized donated funds to develop a system to record 24 hour muscle activity in humans with spasticity due to spinal cord injury.  This enabled her to compete for and receive a CHNF grant to develop software to automate these analyses which will enable her to ask clinically important questions about involuntary muscle contractions, such as how they are influenced by medication and training.

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