Local researchers, victims push Cuomo to reinstate monies
New York’s Spinal Cord Injury Research Program, which has funded more than $70 million in grants since 1998, has fallen victim to a classic Albany budgeting trick. As the state wrestled with a $7.4 billion budget deficit in 2010, the $8.5 million earmarked each year for the research fund was swept clean by then-Gov. David Paterson and lawmakers, with the money going toward covering the state’s bills rather than finding cures for debilitating injuries. Now, several high-profile injury victims and some of the state’s top spinal researchers — including those from the Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains — are banding together in hopes of getting the money back.
“It’s heartbreaking – totally unjust to use these funds for anything other than research,” said Dr. Jason Carmel of Mamaroneck, a neuroscientist and director of the Motor Recovery Laboratory at Burke.
Carmel has a special reason for wanting to continue with his work on ways to restore function to people with injured central nervous systems: His identical twin brother, David, 41, was paralyzed after a 1999 diving accident.