Boston, MA – Spaulding Rehabilitation Network has set its sights on transforming the field of rehabilitation medicine by unlocking the science of recovery through the formation of a new multidisciplinary research enterprise. The announcement today of a lead gift of $5 million from Paula Ness Speers and Mark S. Speers launches the establishment of the Discovery Center for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Recovery as part of the new Spaulding Research Institute.
Named the Paula Ness Speers and Mark S. Speers Discovery Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, the Center will be dedicated to conducting translational research that maximizes mobility and functional improvements for people living with spinal cord injuries, while aggressively pursuing cures for paralysis.
Today's announcement of the $5 million gift marks the second cornerstone contribution to Spaulding Research Institute and comes on the heels of the largest gift ever made to Spaulding earlier this spring—a $10 million gift to launch the Institute, which will be led by Dr. Ross Zafonte, Spaulding’s Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs, Research, and Education.
"This is the largest financial commitment we have ever made to any organization," says Paula Ness Speers, who serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Spaulding. "It speaks to our confidence in the people we have come to know at Spaulding and the important mission of the organization. Spaulding is uniquely equipped to dramatically improve the quality of life experienced by people with SCI and eliminate many of their life-threatening challenges. That’s precisely why we’ve made our gift now."
The Speers came forward to support Spaulding Research Institute at a time when 20% of adults in the U.S. are living with a disability, yet only 0.3% of federal research funds support rehabilitation research. As Co-Founders and Managing Directors of Health Advances, LLC, a prominent consulting firm that focuses exclusively on the commercialization of new medical technologies and services, the couple is highly-informed about our society’s underfunding of rehabilitation research.
"When we learned that more than one-half of those predominately young people who suffer an SCI lose the function of both their arms and legs, we wanted to do something to help." says Mark Speers. "We are impressed with Spaulding’s ‘whole body’ approach to recovery, given the vast range of ancillary health issues associated with inactivity—and that are compounded for people with SCI. The facts are sobering: The risk of diabetes doubles. The risk of heart disease triples. The risk of stroke quadruples. At Spaulding, we see those challenges being confronted head on."
Dr. Zafonte offered his gratitude to the Speers: “Paula and Mark’s gift opens entirely new pathways of opportunity for an underserved patient population. Our researchers are deeply grateful for their extraordinary generosity and partnership on our journey to transform the lives of people, worldwide, with spinal cord injuries.”
Spaulding is at the forefront in the research and care of patients with SCI as the only hospital in the U.S. to be awarded the prestigious Model System designation in Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Burn Injury, all at the same time, by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.
Applauding the Speers’ extraordinary contribution, David E. Storto, President of Spaulding Rehabilitation Network remarked, "There is a growing realization that disability can and will impact all of us at some point. With that comes a new understanding of the vital role of Spaulding’s work and a tremendous show of support to foster it to even higher levels. The generous donation by Paula and Mark for this new Discovery Center is an amazing endorsement.” Summarizing Spaulding’s philanthropy, Storto adds, "This year affirms that we have only just scratched the surface of the ways we can transform rehabilitation medicine at Spaulding with help of our visionary supporters. I’m thrilled to see what 2018 has in store."
About Spaulding Rehabilitation Network
A member of Partners HealthCare, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network includes Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, with a main campus in Charlestown, along with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod, Spaulding Hospital Cambridge and its newly-opened Spaulding Nursing and Therapy Center Brighton, and 26 outpatient sites throughout Eastern Massachusetts. An acclaimed teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and home to its Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding is recognized as the top residency program in the U.S. and the top residency program for research output in the 2017/2018 Doximity Residency Navigator. Spaulding also was recognized by the 2017 Disability Equality Index as a "Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion." For more information, please visit www.spauldingrehab.org.