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Community Outreach

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis believes in working with our local community to develop and implement strategies that can improve quality of life through education.

The Education department, directed by Katie Gant, Ph.D., together with her outreach team, Danielle Cilien and Maria Chagoyen, field thousands of calls and emails each year and serve as liaisons between the general public and the scientific community. The department provides information about research programs, clinical studies, resources for living with paralysis, rehabilitation resources, clinical care referrals, and advice on worldwide investigational treatments and research. They also offer educational tours, lectures and additional outreach events to promote scientific awareness. The graph below illustrates the total number of people the department interacted with each month during 2019 outreach activities.

2019 Miami Project Outreach
2019 Miami Project Outreach
Maria Chagoyen with attendees at the 2019 Brain Fair
Maria Chagoyen with attendees at the 2019 Brain Fair

In addition to their community outreach, the Miami Project Education office is also responsible for assisting the clinical research faculty with recruitment for their clinical studies and trials. Individuals interested in participating are asked to complete an intake form, which provides the education office with preliminary injury characteristics. Once your form is processed, the intake coordinator will call to discuss the studies that you may qualify for and determine whether you’re interested in proceeding with any studies. Interested applicants will scheduled for a neurologic exam (“ASIA”) at our research center and given a tour of the facilities. The graph below shows the cumulative number of individuals since 2010 that have requested to participate in research studies. If you would like to be considered as a possible applicant for one or more of our current research studies, please complete the online intake form. If you would prefer to complete the form later, please visit our homepage and click on the “Register now” tab on the top of the page. A big thank you to all participants, both past and present, for completing the on-site studies and remote surveys!

On February 9, 2019 the Education department was pleased to participate in the Miami-Dade STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Expo as part of their annual Brain Fair. Our interactive spinal cord injury exhibit provided hands-on activities for people of all ages. Our goal was to teach students the connection that exists between the brain and the spinal cord as it relates to body control. In addition to the Miami Project Education team, University of Miami medical student, Nicole Wilson and Yasmin Ali, an undergraduate student from FIU, helped educate students about spinal cord injury.

High school students compete in the 2019 Brain Bee
High school students compete in the 2019 Brain Bee

In addition to the Brain Fair exhibition, The Miami Project also collaborated with the Miami SFN Chapter to host the local Brain Bee. Led by scientific staff from the University of Miami, Dr. Katie Gant and Dr. David Adaikkalasamy, the Brain Bee is a high school competition centered on neuroscience knowledge and related facts. Six Miami-Dade high schools participated with a total of 28 competitors. The winner was given the opportunity to receive mentoring sessions from University of Miami MD/ PhD students and participate in the USA National Brain Bee. This educational pipeline provided secondary students with the guidance and mentorship from our current medical and graduate students and in turn, gave our medical and graduate students the opportunity to develop their teaching skills.

On April 27, 2019 the Education department hosted the 9th Annual Miami Project Community Open House. During this event, our facility was made available to the public with the purpose of fostering open lines of communication between our scientists and the local SCI community. The topics discussed included neuropathic pain after SCI, respiratory and metabolic health, developing a drug to promote axon regeneration, as well as an update on our clinical trials. In addition, several of the faculty participated in a panel discussion in which the public was given the opportunity to ask questions and have our scientists respond to them directly.

If you have any questions or would like to contact our Education department, please email us at mpinfo@med.miami.edu or call us at 305-243-7108.

Dr. Katie Gant welcomes guests to the 2019 Open House.
Dr. Katie Gant welcomes guests to the 2019 Open House.
David McMillan describes his research to Open House attendees.
David McMillan describes his research to Open House attendees.