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Scientific Team

W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D.The Miami Project faculty is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of both basic and clinical scientists with expertise in neuroscience. 


Message from the Scientific Director, W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D.






The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to proceed with a Phase I clinical trial to evaluate the safety of autologous human Schwann cell transplantation in the chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) setting.


The clinical protocol of the Phase I trial is focused on safety and feasibility outcomes.  The investigative team is already conducting a Phase I trial assessing safety of autologous Schwann cell transplantation in individuals with subacute SCI.  The new trial will be conducted in parallel and focus on individuals with chronic SCI.  Individuals that are at least 1 year post-injury will have to meet the inclusion/exclusion criteria and agree to participate in the trial, which initially will require approximately 10 months of their time.  Participants will be monitored long-term for a total of five years.  Each participant’s own Schwann cells will be obtained from a sural nerve biopsy.  The Schwann cells will then need to be derived from the nerve and processed in a culturing facility to generate the number of cells necessary for transplantation, and to undergo a purification process.  The cell therapy will be combined with an intense exercise and rehabilitation intervention to maximize outcome.


Led by W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the Schwann cell clinical trial team is comprised of a multi-disciplinary group of faculty level scientists, neurosurgeons, and staff focused on advancing the trial.



Full Story


The Clinical Trials Initiative is The Miami Project’s efforts to carefully take new discoveries from the laboratory to test as treatments in clinical trials. With a special emphasis on spinal cord injury, the Clinical Trials Initiative was started in 2004 and is aimed at creating the infrastructure needed to gain approval for and to conduct clinical trials at the University of Miami affiliated hospitals. Two treatments we are currently testing under this clinical trials initiative are Schwann cell transplantation and therapeutic hypothermia.  We anticipate these activities will bring new and potentially life-changing treatments to people with central nervous system trauma.

Scientific Research

Barth A. Green, M.D.Our broad scope of collaborative research is dedicated to finding new treatments for spinal cord injury.    


Message from the Chairman, Barth A. Green, M.D.







Two Miami Project faculty, Jae Lee, PhD and Kevin Park, PhD, recently published new animal research results in the prestigious scientific journal Journal of Neuroscience.  Compensatory growth (sprouting) from intact nerve cells is thought to contribute to the spontaneous recovery that often occurs after injury to the central nervous system.  However, the mechanism by which this occurs is poorly understood.  Previously, the investigators demonstrated in mice that deletion of the PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) gene can promote a certain degree of axonal growth. This was dependent on activation of mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), which is a master regulator of cell growth.  In this study, the team investigated whether different types of axon sprouting were also dependent on mTOR activation (turning it on).  They discovered that axon sprouting that occurs spontaneously or after degradation of an inhibitory molecule called CSPG (chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan) were both dependent on mTOR activation.  To investigate in more depth, they combined CSPG degradation with PTEN deletion and found an additive effect on axon sprouting.  Interestingly, this kind of sprouting in mice shortly after birth is independent of mTOR activation, which suggests a different mechanism of compensatory sprouting in young animals.  Therefore, during development, nerve cells become more dependent on mTOR activation for compensatory sprouting and combining PTEN deletion with CSPG degradation in the adult central nervous system is a promising strategy to promote axonal growth after spinal cord injury.












Human Clinical Trials

Allan D.O. Levi, M.D.The Miami Project has many ongoing clinical trials for spinal cord and brain injury.


If you are interested in participating in our clinical trials, complete our intake form today.







Wednesday - January 7, 2015

Gail F. Beach Memorial Visiting Lectureship Series

LPLC 7th Floor Apex Auditorium


 Susan Harkema,PhD
Rehabilitation Research Director, Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center
Owsley B. Frazier Chair , Department of Neurological Rehabilitation
Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery
Frazier Rehab Institute- Louisville, KY





 2014-2015 Lecture Schedule



 The NIH Summer Student Research Application
is now available!




2014 Fall Project Magazine



The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
1095 NW 14th Terrace
Lois Pope LIFE Center
Miami, FL  33136 USA
p. (305) 243-6001 or 1.800.STAND UP
f. (305) 243-6017
Copyright 2014 University of Miami, All Rights Reserved.