08 May 2011

Time for a Manhattan/Apollo Project to cure paralysis

The short survey is at the end!

"I believe that this nation should commit 
itself to achieving the goal, before this decade 
is out, of landing a man on the Moon and 
returning him safely to the Earth. No single 
space project in this period will be more 
impressive to mankind, or more important in 
the long-range exploration of space; and none 
will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
President John F. Kennedy, 25 May 1961
I have been thinking of writing this post for some time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's declaration to put a man on the moon in less than ten years. I wanted to time it for 25 May when he made the declaration, but recently I got asked a good question in one of the forums I belong to so thought that I wanted to answer it with this blog. 


Basically the question I got asked was, "when are you going to cure paralysis?"

It's a good question because I think it could get done within five to ten years. Not that I'm going to do it by myself, we have to do it together.

John F. Kennedy declared in 1961 that America would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and for good or bad, the landing took place in 1969.



Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided to build an atomic bomb, and that horror exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki within a few years.

Were FDR or JFK scientists? No, they were LEADERS who DECLARED what science would do. They didn't sit and study science (and I'm not saying we shouldn't), they made it a national priority and then left it to the scientists to make it happen. I'm also not saying that there was no science already in the works to complete these missions, but it wouldn't have happened if an influential world leader didn't put their might behind the projects.

They brought the scientists together, gave them their deadlines, paid for the work 100%, and gave them whatever resources they needed.

They didn't fund private companies and universities to carry out independent work for profit and/or glory. Roosevelt dealt with the only scientist, Eszilard, who argued about his patent by having him fired and not allowing him back on the team until he sold the patent at a reasonable price. You would be right to think of Don Corleone with a gun to a guy's head demanding an answer to an "offer he can't refuse".

Roosevelt didn't send Oppenheimer out on a world tour in a atomic fired wheelchair to raise money and awareness. Kennedy didn't send the Apollo Project scientists out wearing rocket costumes to do little songs and dances for rich investors and donors to get the cash for the Apollo spacecraft. No. Roosevelt and Kennedy worried about the money and let the scientists do their important work collaboratively and with a deadline in mind.

Of course there were naysayers and even some scientists said that these things couldn't be done, but they were done, because they were declared.

At this point in history we are further ahead in curing paralysis than what was scientifically available before both the Manhattan and Apollo projects were launched.

We have leading scientists in the field of spinal cord regeneration who are very clear in their statements of "not if but when" in regards to a cure for spinal cord injury.

Therefore I say the when is within five to ten years of the cure for paralysis being made a(n) (inter)national priority we can cure paralysis.


The national priority part is up to me, you, and others who want paralysis cured.

I don't care which country does it first. We must truly be internationalists to solve this problem.


Just because I'm interested in what people think is getting in the way of a cure for paralysis caused by an injury to the spinal cord, I have this short poll that I would like you to take.
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9 comments:

  1. Hope this helps us all.

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  2. Well, I hate to give Nixon credit for anything, be he started our war on cancer. And how far have we come on that one?

    I'm actually not saying that to be critical. Because we have made incredible basic scientific discoveries in the cancer field that give us hope. But we have so far to go. So I'm saying it to be realistic. These are incredibly complex scientific and medical problems. Clearly we need more scientists and more money going towards them, with better collaboration. But our society (?world) has many priorities, and unfortunately we also do not value our scientific and medical goals as highly as we should.

    In the world, it is treating infection disease, and possibly then cancer as first a priority, given limited resources.

    Intellectually, I think the desire to understand the regeneration potential in the nervous system is great and that will drive much progress we make in the SCI field. As most people still do not have a personal connection with SCI, it is unfortunately too esoteric for them to support it the way breast cancer has a strong support network and funding.

    It takes a lot of hard work at the grassroots to educate and raise the profile of SCI. It also takes better collaboration among medicine/academic research/industry to make progress. And it takes people and families with SCI aching for change, joining every clinical trial they can at their local rehab hospital/research hospital, to see it to fruition.

    Just my thought, this morning.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Plain and simple. American politicians have their head up their asses about stem cells. They believe it's about killing babies to harvest cells. Second, care makes more money so, care providers will always lobby against any sign of cure in the name of safety. This action slows a cure from reaching the people who need one.

    Bottom line:
    Politics and Money prevent a cure in anyone's lifetime. Just like the common cold. Enough said. Live your life stop waiting for a cure. When it's available it will be available. I'm not living for a cure. God bless all you people who have the passion and fervor to do so. I support you. Peace, Eddie G

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    Replies
    1. Just read this post after many years and read the comment above.
      Dennis isn't saying don't liive your life and wait for a cure. Where does it say this?
      You're extrapolating like crazy to accuse that this has been said. He's saying,let's work for a cure.

      Delete
  5. I agree with everything above. Personally since my accident ive been at a complete loss as to what to do with my time/life. The optimist inside me says 'people can create change' closely followed by the ever present pessimist 'the mountain is too big'. My conclusion is that we may as well give the challenge a go. cheers Adam K

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