HISTORY

Over the past 60 years the Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) has grown into the largest non-government funder of cerebral palsy research in the United States. This was achieved through the work of the most renowned thinkers in science, research and medicine. But it was first imagined by dedicated, visionary parents who wanted to make a difference.

In 1949, Isabelle Weinstein Goldenson and her husband Leonard, then President of the United Paramount Theatres and ABC television, began to seek treatment for their daughter who had a recent diagnosis of cerebral palsy. They soon realized few specialists existed. Shocked by the lack of affordable and accessible quality care for individuals with cerebral palsy, Isabelle one day turned to Leonard and said, “Why don’t we look onto the possibility of helping others in this field?”

Isabelle’s utterance of this single sentence transformed the landscape of cerebral palsy forever and along with Jack Hausman, a prominent New York businessman and wife Ethel, founded United Cerebral Palsy.

In 1955, Isabelle Goldenson convinced Dr. Sidney Farber at Harvard Medical School of the need for research into the prevention of cerebral palsy. Dr. Farber brought in fourteen of the top medical scientists from across the country, including Dr. Houston Merritt, Dean of Columbia’s Medical School, and members of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to form the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation.

As a foundation we have been responsible for critical strides in cerebral palsy research. In 1969 research funded by the foundation isolated the rubella virus and subsequently developed a vaccine for german measles, one of the leading causes of CP at the time. Over the years, we have worked with groups on everything from improving therapeutic techniques to gaining new understandings of the brain and its functions.

When we began, the mission of the foundation was to fund the work of young investigators so they could build a body of work that would yield NIH research grants, thereby growing the number of people studying CP. As such, we focused primarily on basic science and the eventual development of new medical researchers and novel approaches.

However, so much has changed since that time.

Today, it is difficult even to keep up with the diverse and significant ideas being pursued. And yet, amid this storm of new thinking, the translational research, clinical application, and knowledge transfer which can change lives is too often delivered incompletely, or not to standard. As such, there are just too many clinics and families who don’t benefit from the remarkable advances that have already been made.

As such, the newly reimagined Cerebral Palsy Foundation promotes the delivery of current research, best practices, and technology to people with cerebral palsy and their support systems, from friends and family to clinicians. Our mission of transforming lives through research, innovation and collaboration is brought to a vibrant reality through our collaborative networks consisting of the world’s most prestigious research institutions, great thinkers and innovators from a variety of disciplines. Our work remains deeply informed by our Scientific Advisory Council, comprised of the most prominent thinkers in the field, and the many individuals with whom we interact on a daily basis.

Today, as we look to the future, we commit to building on the legacy of our past. Our history includes luminaries such as Chairman Emeritus, Paul A.Volcker, former Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System. The Chairman Emeritus of our Scientific Advisory Council is Dr. Murray Goldstein, former Assistant Surgeon General. And of course we continue to build on the vision of our Founders, the Goldensons and Hausmans – who brought this Foundation into existence to not only spur on research, but to make sure our community could benefit from it.

Together, CPF continues to build on a legacy that has affected so many individual lives, working together to make important strides for the CP community. Our staff and Board continue to honor that legacy by trying to make a difference for others each day.