Tag Archive | "The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis"

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University of Miami Hosts First Neural Engineering Symposium


Special to UM News

From left are Jonathan Wolpaw, W. Dalton Dietrich, Ozcan Ozdamar, and Daniel S. Rizzuto.

The University of Miami hosted its first Neural Engineering Symposium on October 13 to promote collaborations among research, educational, and industry programs for this rapidly growing discipline. Ozcan Ozdamar, professor and chair of the College of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and W. Dalton Dietrich, scientific director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, served as co-directors of the symposium, which was organized by the Department of Biomedical Engineering and The Miami Project with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

More than 100 attendees from various departments and schools participated in the one-day event, held in the Lois Pope LIFE Center. Researchers discussed more than 50 posters, and a number of invited speakers from the University of Miami, University of Pittsburgh, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, and Florida International University presented their most recent work.

Jonathan Wolpaw, director of the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies at the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center, delivered the keynote address on the development of EEG-based brain-computer interfaces that can restore communication and control to people who are paralyzed by spinal cord injury and other disorders.

In another lecture, Daniel S. Rizzuto, director of Cognitive Neuromodulation at the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed current research in the development of brain stimulation therapies for patients with memory impairments as part of the DARPA RAM Project.

The meeting was coordinated by Karin Scarpinato, assistant provost for research, with the following interdisciplinary program committee members: Fabrice Manns, Suhrud Rajguru, Abhishek Prasad, Monica Perez, Vittorio Porciatti, and Michael Hoffer. The symposium was structured to enhance collaborations throughout the University and between relevant programs within the state of Florida to enhance research and educational initiatives comprising the biomedical engineering and neuroscience communities.

The symposium was supported in part by industry sponsors and the Department of Biomedical Engineering and The Miami Project. Future conferences are planned along with a new University of Miami Institute for Neural Engineering that will position the University for funding opportunities requiring established programs that integrate engineering and neuroscience for the assessment and treatment of neurological disorders. This initiative also will be critical for attracting the next generation of trainees to Miami who wish to make a career in this exciting technological discipline.

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Sports Legends Raise Millions to Cure Paralysis

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Sports Legends Raise Millions to Cure Paralysis


Special to UM News

legnedsdinnerThe Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the fundraising arm of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, honored an unparalleled group of Hall of Famers, gold medalists, world champions and philanthropists in front of a crowd of more than 1,300 supporters on September 12 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, raising millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research during the 31st Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner.

The benefit, hosted by NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti and his son Marc, honored New York Yankees great and World Series champion Mariano Rivera, seven-time tennis major winner and fashion designer Venus Williams, NFLHall of Fame running back from the New York Jets Curtis Martin, New York Knicks legend and NBA Hall of Famer Willis Reed, four-time IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, WNBANBAand FIBA Hall of Fame basketball great Cheryl Miller, and record-setting long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad.

The dinner also featured the presentation of The Buoniconti Fund Award to Golden Globe Winner Christian Slater, The Humanitarian Award to “Mr. Las Vegas,” Wayne Newton, The Buoniconti Fund’s Outstanding Philanthropist Award, presented by musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan, to James L. Nederlander, President of The Nederlander Organization, The Great American Icon Award to legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and the Christine E. Lynn Champion for a Cure Award to Sports Legend Event Chairman Mark Dalton. The Sports Legends Dinner also paid special tribute to Muhammed Ali and celebrated the 50th birthday of Marc Buoniconti.

NBC’s Nightly News anchor Lester Holt emceed the event, and the cast of the smash hit Broadway musical, “On Your Feet! – The Story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan,” performed live.

“Each year we are amazed by the overwhelming support we receive from our many friends from around the globe, and this year was especially inspirational and memorable,” said Nick Buoniconti. “We are thrilled to celebrate the unique and unmatched talents of our Sports Legends and humbled by the staunch support and philanthropic efforts of all our guests who helped make this night a huge success in raising much-needed funds for spinal cord injury research.”

Among the notables walking the Red Carpet were former Sports Legends Honorees Bob Beamon, Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras, Gary Hall, Jr., Theresa Edwards and Harry Carson, and champion athletes Bruce Bowen, Mel Davis, Caris LeVert, Kiley Neushul, Justise Winslow, Tommy Vigorio, Nate Burleson, Kristi Castlin, Darrell Gwynn, Anita Alvarez, Mariya Koroleva, Nzingha Prescod, Ashleigh Johnson, Peter Biondo, Kylie Neushul, and Peter and Chris Ferraro. Celebrities and artists also showed their support at the event, including Barry Bradford, Dolores Catania, Emily Estefan, Tom Murro, Chuck Jackson, Brad Leland, Aiden Turner, Kay Adams, Ramon Rodriguez, Robert Zuckerman and Romero Britto.

Guests also had the chance to bid on a medley of dazzling silent auction items, from jewelry, sports memorabilia, designer bags, tech gadgets and more, including a Harley Davidson XL883L motorcycle, an autographed collage of the 2016 Olympic “Final Five” gymnasts, an authentic Muhammed Ali-signed Everlast boxing glove and a Jerry Rice autographed football, among other items.

The Buoniconti Fund’s “Legend Alumni” and past honorees have included Michael Jordan, Willie Mays, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Tony Hawk, Cal Ripken, Jr., Gloria Estefan, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, George Foreman, Tom Brokaw, Julio Iglesias, Phil Collins, Troy Aikman, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Cousy, Mario Andretti, Joe Namath, Pedro Martinez, Hakeem Olajuwon, Andre Agassi, Dan Marino, Mike Piazza, Pat Riley, Dorothy Hamill, Mia Hamm, Kelly Slater, Joe Torre and many other athletes and heroes — all of whom recognize that paralyzing injuries can and do occur in the pursuit of athletic careers and everyday lives.

Since its inception in 1986, the Great Sports Legends Dinner has saluted more than 300 sports legends and honorees, and has raised millions for The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs. The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, through the research efforts of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, is committed to finding a cure for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury and to seeing millions worldwide walk again.

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30th Great Sports Legends Dinner Raises $12M to Cure Paralysis


Special to UM News

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A host of VIPs came together to raise money for The Buoniconti Fund for research and clinical trials aimed at curing paralysis.

MIAMI, Fla. (October 12, 2015) — Celebrities, sports legends, corporate leaders, and others joined NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti, his son Marc, and event chair Mark Dalton as they hosted a sold-out crowd in celebration of the 30th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.

Held at New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria on October 6, the dinner paid tribute to philanthropic heroes and sports icons who inspire and motivate those affected by spinal cord injuries, and raised more than $12 million for research and the Human Clinical Trials Initiative at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Read the full story

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Sports Legends Dinner Celebrates 30 Years of Breakthroughs

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Sports Legends Dinner Celebrates 30 Years of Breakthroughs


UM News

Nick and Mark Buoniconti, both UM trustees, will host the 30th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner ion October 6.

Nick and Mark Buoniconti, both UM trustees, will host the 30th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner on October 6.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 25, 2015) — Thirty years after NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti promised his newly paralyzed son, Marc, they would see a cure for spinal cord injuries one day, father and son are ever-closer to that goal, thanks in large part to the 30th Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner they’ll host next week in New York City.

Over the past 29 years, the Sports Legends Dinners have inspired and entertained to raise incalculable awareness and more than $100 million for groundbreaking spinal cord injury research at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

NBC News icon Tom Brokaw will emcee the high-profile event at the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday, October 6, when more than 1,300 celebrities and notables from entertainment, sports, and media will mark the 30th anniversary by recognizing a who’s who of sports legends and two couples who have used their talents to make a difference. This year, legends Jorge Posada, Karl Malone, Ray Lewis, John Stockton, Michelle Kwan, Victor Espinoza, Jennifer Capriati, and Chip Ganassi will be honored along with Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who will receive The Buoniconti Fund Inspiration Award, and Orianne and Phil Collins, who will receive the Humanitarian Award.

“Today there is tangible evidence through our groundbreaking clinical trials that a cure for paralysis is within our grasp,” said Nick Buoniconti, founder of The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis who founded The Miami Project at the Miller School of Medicine with Barth A. Green, professor and chair of neurological surgery, after Marc’s 1985 college football injury. “We are honored that so many legendary athletes and influential figures continue to help us stand up for those who cannot.”

Featuring live performances by The Beach Boys and Pointer Sisters, this year’s dinner is expected to raise millions more for The Miami Project’s research programs. The impressive roster of honorees join 300 other athletes and heroes who, over the past three decades, have been honored for raising awareness about injuries that paralyze millions worldwide and for raising funds for The Buoniconti Fund and The Miami Project. The world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury research center, The Miami Project now stands at its most promising juncture.

More than 300 strong, Miami Project researchers, scientists, clinicians, and support staff are conducting or participating in more than eighteen clinical trials for spinal cord and brain injuries, and have more than a dozen clinical research studies underway, including the first FDA-approved Schwann cell transplantation trial, which is changing the spinal cord injury field and setting an important foundation for future Miami Project cell replacement therapies.

As Nick Buoniconti says, “For 30 years The Miami Project has provided real hope to those living with paralysis, and now that hope is turning into reality.”

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Propelled by Gratitude, Twice-Paralyzed Hockey Player Rides for The Miami Project

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Propelled by Gratitude, Twice-Paralyzed Hockey Player Rides for The Miami Project


Special to UM News

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Surrounding Marc Buoniconti, seated, are, from left, Teague Egan, Tom Smith, Chris Smith, John McCarthy and Barth A. Green, M.D.

MIAMI, Fla. (May 28, 2015)— Tom Smith, a twice-paralyzed former hockey player, rode 2,100 miles from Massachusetts to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the Miller School of Medicine last month, concluding his 38-day Reality Ride Challenge to raise funds and awareness for The Miami Project’s spinal cord injury research programs, which he credit for his recovery.

“The Reality Ride Challenge is a testament to what great doctors and therapists can do for someone with paralysis,” said Smith. “My goal is to build this ride into a fundraising platform to help The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis expedite the process of finding a cure so that everyone in a wheelchair can have the same opportunity to recover that I had.”

Smith, a former patient of Barth A. Green, M.D., the chair of neurological surgery and co-founder of The Miami Project, was first paralyzed in August of 2008 during an intense hockey play but was able to walk again after receiving treatment and therapy at The Miami Project. A similar injury occurred at another hockey game in 2009. Upon recovering, Smith decided he wanted to give back. With the Reality Ride Challenge his team raised $100,000 for The Miami Project’s paralysis research programs.

“What Tom and his team have been able to accomplish through the Reality Ride on behalf of The Miami Project is nothing short of remarkable,”said Miami Project President Marc Buoniconti. “Their determination to make this a reality in order to help others devastated by paralysis is admirable and we are proud to call them our friends.”

The ride left from Boston on March 25, with each day consisting of  65 miles on a bicycle, two miles in a sitting wheelchair bike, and one mile walking. The ride, which traced Smith’s path from his accident in Massachusetts to his recovery at The Miami Project, was also a brutal test of physical endurance and mental fortitude.

At The Miami Project’s research facility, Buoniconti and Green led a welcoming party with dozens of well-wishers that included family, friends, and researchers.

The Reality Ride Challenge is symbolic for riding and walking for those who cannot, said Smith, who completed the distance with advisor Teague Egan and others who joined for segments along the way.

Smith said that he is a “living, breathing, walking example of how the world-class doctors, scientists, physical therapists and nurses at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis improve the daily lives of those living with paralysis.”

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