by Don C. Reed

Paul Richter is a hero to me.

Shot three times in the line of duty, Trooper Paul was temporarily paralyzed. He was lucky, he says, regaining full motion (though he still has a lot of nerve pain.)

But instead of just thinking about himself, Paul managed to persuade every Democrat and Republican in the New York legislature to pass a spinal cord injury research act—and he did it almost without a single tax dollar!

“Uncle Paul’s Law” is funded almost entirely by a traffic ticket add-on. Since car crash is the number one cause of spinal cord injury, it makes sense that those who endanger their own and other people’s lives should help pay. (In California, I was inspired by the New York effort to propose the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act.)

A great law—already helping not only New York, but every paralysis-suffering person in the world.

I believe that one day my paralyzed son Roman Reed will fulfill Christopher Reeve’s prediction to “that Roman and I will stand up from our wheelchairs and walk away from them forever”.  Cure did not come in time for our great champion, but I still believe in his great dream.

When that happens, New York will have been part of that tremendous effort—if we act now, to prevent bureaucratic short-sightedness from killing it. The only expense is a very nominal administration cost—other than that, it costs New York nothing—and it might mean a great deal to people suffering the agonies of paralysis.

Read a note from Dr. Sally Temple, and then send one e-mail to the two government officials below—please?

It need not be long. Even a single sentence: “I support the New York Spinal Cord Injury research law” is helpful. Remember,


But time is short, so please act right now, and send a short note to these two gentlemen….

Senator Carl Kruger

Assemblyman Herman D Farrell, Jr.

Thanks so much,

Don C. Reed

P.S. Below is more info from Dr. Sally Temple.

Governor David Paterson has recently proposed terminating the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) administered by the NYS Department of Health in his Executive Budget proposal. (Chapter 338, Laws of 1998).

Here is the document showing the proposed cut:  Click here: NYS DOB: 2010-11 Executive Budget Briefing Book – Health Care  Third bullet up from bottom of page.

We need all people who are impacted by spinal cord injury to write letters to protest this. The letters should go to their local NYS senators (if NYS residents) and to:

Senator Carl Kruger
Chair, NYS Senate Finance Committee
913 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247

and to

Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Chair, Ways and Means Committee
923 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248

Regular letters are probably best, but email is fine or

This medical research program was created thanks to the amazing efforts of Paul A. Richter a NY state trooper who fought valiantly to initiate the program motivated after he was shot three times and left paralyzed by a would-be gun trafficker in Lake Placid on September 30, 1973. The research program was also strongly supported by Christopher Reeve, and by many patients, families, advocates and researchers in NYS.

SCIRP is funded using money from surcharges imposed on motorists that are convicted of moving traffic violations not by tax dollars. Hence it only has admin impact on NYS. Most of the devastating spinal cord injuries are from motor vehicle accidents.

The NYS SCIRP has successfully grown spinal cord injury research in NYS and beyond. Over the past 10 years it has distributed 54 million dollars, funding basic research, but most importantly translational research to find new therapies that are most likely to help spinal cord injured patients. The program encourages scientists who had not been in the field to enter, and to collaborate with researchers from other disciplines towards creative solutions. Even though our lab had no history in SCI work, we received a grant that has helped us get into the field and produced some highly promising findings that we are moving towards a novel SCI therapy. Many other labs received funding and were highly productive (eg Ravi Kane, Deanna Thompson, Bob Linhardt at RPI; Mark Noble and Steve Goldman, U Rochester; Raj Ratan the Burke Rehab Institute in white plains). The program has led to multiple patents that are being developed, and new hope for SCI treatments.

The program was gaining recognition nationwide, and a recent meeting held in NYC at the academy of sciences building, next to ground zero, attracted the premier spinal cord researchers in the country.

Losing this program will have an economic impact: it is a high tech job magnet – local institutes in NYS are now able to attract excellent spinal cord researchers from other states who want to move here to take advantage of the NYS funding opportunity. RPI just interviewed a young researcher in this area, and so did we. Each principle investigator who comes here will typically develop a lab of six people, provide jobs for local technicians and bring other researchers into the state.  This in turn leads to industry partnerships – the SCIRP fits with Gov Paterson’s recent initiative – Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships.

Work in spinal cord research can have additional benefits in finding drugs for other nervous system disorders. Look at the recent success this week of Acorda Therapeutics, headed by Ron Cohen, a company founded to cure spinal cord injury now has FDA approval for Ampyra, estimated to be a billion a year drug for multiple sclerosis treatments – this is a NYS based company, headquartered at 15 Skyline Drive Hawthorne, NY 10532  Phone: 914-347-4300.
News on Ampyra:

If there is anything you can do to save this valuable research program, the high tech jobs and local industry it can create, and hope for new treatments for spinal cord injured patients, please will you help.

All best,


Sally Temple
Scientific Director
New York Neural Stem Cell Institute
One Discovery Drive
Rensselaer NY 12144

phone: 518 694 8188;
fax: 518 694 8187

New York Neural Stem Cell Institute, non-profit for CNS research

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