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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.



Chronic pain is a frequently debilitating and poorly understood consequence of spinal cord injury.  Neuropathic pain, in particular, is notoriously difficult to treat, and the complexities of available animal models impede the rapid identification and screening of promising pharmacotherapies and novel interventive strategies. 


Fundraising dollars have been used in Dr. Jacqueline Sagen’s laboratory to develop a strong predictive model in animals, using a clip compression spinal cord injury, to streamline this process and facilitate translation of promising therapies more rapidly to the clinic.  This model has jump-started her program for testing novel therapeutic strategies, including combination pharmacologic strategies, cell transplantation, and gene therapy, which are currently being pursued in numerous ongoing projects that have been funded by the NIH, CHNF, and the Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation. 


Similarly, Dr. Eva Widerström-Noga has used donated funds to understand chronic pain in humans with spinal cord injury.   This has led to significant research funded by the Veterans Administration (VA) and CHNF to characterize phenotypes (clusters of symptoms and triggers) underlying different types of chronic pain.

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