Patient advocates hope stem cell summit brings medical breakthroughs

Big names in stem cell research are attending

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Sabrina Cohen may wheel from booth to booth with a smile on her face but she hates being confined to a chair.

Her injuries are the  result of a car accident when she was a teenager.

"The other car lost control hit the car that I was in and we slammed into a car then hit a tree and I became an instant quadriplegic," Cohen said.

She was paralyzed from the neck down.

"I went from a completely healthy independent teenager to someone who was completely dependent on full time help," Cohen said.

Over the years, she's made strides.

She hopes scientists at the World Stem Cell Summit help her make even more.

"By bringing everybody together and uniting everybody I think we're accelerating the pace to coming to the conclusions that we're looking for," Cohen said.

In her case, she hopes it allows her to walk again.

Some of the biggest names in stem cell research are here.

"We think of stem cell therapies as new types of agents that can treat diseases that have no other treatments," Dr. Joshua Haire said. 

Dr. Haire, who is from University of Miami's Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, is a speaker at the summit.

He admits he's learning a lot from others at the conference and not just speaking.

He's hoping the three day conference leads to more funding for stem cell research in our area.

"I think their approach in California to fund stem cell research to promote it is something we should try and emulate here in Florida," Dr. Haire said.

Cohen hopes so too, because maybe it could have her walking through this conference one year instead of wheeling her way through it.

"That would be everything," she said. "It would be a phenomenal day."

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