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MESSAGE FROM THE SCIENTIFIC LEADERSHIP

The Miami Project family would like to first thank all our friends, volunteers, and the spinal cord injury (SCI) community for their unwavering support for our multidisciplinary programs as we continue to advance our research initiatives. This year has presented challenges for all of us that had to be overcome to ensure our community’s safety while remaining true to our research and education objectives. We know that COVID-19 has had serious consequences on many of our friends and loved ones. We send our best wishes while looking forward to a future of exciting discoveries, successful translational programs, and meaningful clinical advances.

Over the last year, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has modified many of our education, outreach and research clinical programs to ensure their continued success. Our investigators have initiated several remote programs for our SCI community allowing many individuals to stay connected with researchers and colleagues. Successful home programs now include exercise and rehabilitation activities as well as innovative wellness and mindfulness initiatives. These well attended programs have allowed research subjects to participate in new clinical initiatives while adhering to safety guidelines important during these challenging times. With the appreciated vulnerability of our SCI community to infections, new initiatives are safeguarding our research programs and ensuring the safety of volunteers and investigators. Information on these active remote programs and how people can register can be found on The Miami Project website.

An important goal of our research strategic plan is the continued recruitment of outstanding researchers to introduce new questions and technologies that compliment current programs and advance our science. Over the last several months we have successfully recruited new faculty to lead our education and outreach program and to introduce novel neural engineering devices to activate neural circuits to promote function and improve quality of life. We are actively recruiting a new clinical investigator with expertise in SCI neuromodulation that can be combined with ongoing rehabilitation and regenerative approaches including our FDA-regulated cellular therapies. We are excited about these recruits and future contributions leading to important collaborations and innovative programs critical for our future success.

In the area of discovery and translational research, significant advances in drug discovery have been realized including new NIH funding to support an innovative pharmacological approach for promoting successful axonal regeneration after SCI. Another important program being advanced with industry assistance is a humanized antibody treatment that targets neuroinflammation after brain and spinal cord injury. New findings regarding the pathophysiology of brain and SCI are also helping us design better studies to target injury and reparative mechanisms using molecular methods, gene therapies and novel engineering approaches like tissue engineering.

Our ultimate vision is to develop successful treatments and therapies that can be administered at different phases of the injury process that complement each other to maximize protective and reparative mechanisms. Important research programs also continue to target quality of life issues that impact our SCI community, including neuropathic pain, cardiovascular and autonomic dysfunction, muscle spasticity, and fertility. To advance these initiatives, we are strengthening alliances with industry partners to evaluate new minimally invasive electrical and magnetic neuromodulation technologies including brain-computer interface work to promote upper and lower limb function.

This is an exciting time for The Miami Project as we have now relocated our clinical researchers into the new Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. This state-of-the-art facility is already providing endless opportunities for the advancement of new strategies to improve recovery and long-term health for our disability community and caregivers. The Lynn Center is offering the unique opportunity for our clinical investigators to work together with colleagues in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physical Therapy, and Jackson Memorial Hospital. These new alliances are providing a seamless treatment pipeline from the emergency and intensive care units to rehabilitation programs to improve the long-term health and well-being of our constituents. The new Nick Buoniconti Translational Research initiative is supporting an established clinical infrastructure to ensure the success and continuation of this forward-thinking project. An overreaching goal of The Miami Project is to conduct translational research enabling future clinical advancements for neurological disorders including spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, concussion, stroke and neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease affecting millions of victims worldwide. Our research communities in the Lois Pope LIFE Center and the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center are working tirelessly to advance new scientific discoveries. We sincerely appreciate your critical support for the development and initiation of multidisciplinary programs to promote recovery and the quality of life of all individuals living with paralysis.