Dr. Mary Bartlett Bunge Honored at Healthcare Heroes Luncheon


May 20, 2014 – An audience of more than 500 healthcare and business leaders cheered as Miller School Dean Emeritus Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., received the AXA Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Health Care Heroes Awards Luncheon, held on May 20 in Jungle Island’s Treetop Ballroom.

In addition, Mary Bartlett Bunge, Ph.D., professor of cell biology, neurological surgery and neurology at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, won the Health Care Hero Award in the Bio-Medical category. Carlos A. Migoya, President and CEO of Jackson Health System, was also a winner, taking home the Health Care Hero Award in the Individuals of Merit category. Robert J. Myerburg, M.D., professor of medicine and physiology, and the American Heart Association Chair in Cardiovascular Research, was named a finalist in the Health Care Professionals category.

The Health Care Heroes Awards recognize individuals, institutions and programs that have had an extraordinary impact on the South Florida health care community, and whose acts of heroism represent dedication to excellence in their area of expertise beyond the scope of their profession.

Goldschmidt nominated Drs. Bunge and Myerburg.

Bunge has spent the past 24 years of a distinguished career at the Miller School. Her research has focused on Schwann cells, found in the peripheral nervous system, as an important component in repairing damaged spinal cords. New clinical applications include a groundbreaking procedure combining standard nerve grafting with a patient’s own Schwann cells.

“Through the work of Dr. Bunge, millions of people have been given hope that one day there will be a cure for paralysis,” said Goldschmidt. “The advances in the past decade have only been possible through the determination of talented and selfless researchers like Dr. Bunge.”

Bunge called the award “a very humbling experience. I was given an exceptional opportunity to work at The Miami Project,” she said, “but it’s really the people in my lab who deserve this award. They do the work.” Pointing to one of the luncheon tables, she had research associates Vania Almeida, Margaret Bates and Yelena Pressman stand and share the applause.

“We at The Miami Project have known for a long time how special Dr. Mary Bunge is — not only as a researcher, but also as a human being,” said W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., Scientific Director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. “She is a true innovator in the field, and this honor validates all the countless hours and years she has worked in the laboratories in order to discover new and novel treatments for paralysis. A well-deserved congratulations to her and her team.”