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April 17, 2012 > Spinal cord injury research bill approved

Spinal cord injury research bill approved

Submitted By Jeff Barbosa

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski's (D-Fremont) bill to provide funding for a spinal cord injury research program named after a former Chabot College football player, who was paralyzed during a game, passed the state Assembly's Public Safety Committee 4-2 on March 27, 2012.

AB 1657 would restore funding to the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research program created in 2000. The program is administered by the University of California out of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, partially named after the late actor Christopher Reeve. It provides research grants to scientists at universities around the state working to improve the quality of life for the 650,000 Californians living with paralysis.

"In the past week, I have received about 300 emails in support of this bill from people all over the world" Wieckowski said. "I've heard from people who are dealing with spinal cord injuries or know a loved one who is living with the condition. This bill gives them hope that through this research there will be medical advances that improve the mobility and functionality of people with SCI."

To date, California has invested about $15M since the program's beginning and leveraged that amount with an additional $64M from federal research grants from the National Institute of Health and other sources. However, state funding has run out. AB 1657 would restore the funding by adding a $1 penalty on all moving traffic violations and directing them to the spinal cord injury research fund.

Roman Reed, now a Fremont Planning Commissioner, attended the hearing and spoke eloquently of his support for the bill and his experience of living with paralysis. Since suffering his injury in the 1990s, he has become a well-known advocate for SCI research.

The University of California and the California Healthcare Institute, a statewide organization representing the state's biomedical community, also support the bill. AB 1657 will now go to the Assembly Health Committee for consideration.

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