Who We Are
Paula Cunniffe – Head of Mark Pollock Trust & Run in the Dark
I believe that through effective communication we can put the issue of spinal cord injury on the world stage and engage a tribe of followers to support the mission to fast-track a cure for paralysis. Leading the team at the Mark Pollock Trust I am focused on building that tribe, and generating funding to support our mission through our global running series called Run in the Dark and by working with our volunteer, commercial, government and academic partners to help fast-track a cure for paralysis.
Communications and project management has been at the heart of my work to date, on large-scale projects and events management with the Department of the Taoiseach, as a lecturer at the University of Florida and producing radio and TV programmes and documentaries for NPR, Athena Media, RTE and others.
I hold a 1st class BA in Journalism and Irish from DIT and a Master’s in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Florida. I’m a runner, a cyclist, a hockey player and former President of Loreto Hockey Club.
Mark Pollock – Explorer, Innovator & Collaboration Catalyst
Everything I do is about helping people achieve more than they thought possible. After losing my sight in 1998, I became an adventure athlete competing in ultra endurance races across deserts, mountains, and the polar ice caps including being the first blind person to race to the South Pole.
In 2010, a fall from a second story window nearly killed me. I broke my back and the damage to my spinal cord left me paralysed. Now I am on a new expedition, this time to fast track a cure for paralysis.
Selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader and appointed to the Global Futures Council on Human Enhancement, Mark is on the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA), I run a professional speaking business (www.markpollock.com), am a co-founder of the global running series Run in the Dark and am an ambassador for Wings for Life Spinal Research Foundation (UK). I hold honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and from Queens University Belfast, a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard University and degrees from Trinity College Dublin and The Smurfit Business School.
Simone George – Consultant Litigation Lawyer & Thought Partner
Everything I do is based on my belief in fairness. As a litigator I act both for commercial clients and as a freelance litigation resource for corporate lawyers. I also work on legal and advocacy projects in the area of domestic violence and spinal cord injury research.
I have been Mark’s thought partner since his accident. Together we produced a feature length documentary film, with our documentary maker collaborator, called Unbreakable and I research, create and develop written content for the Trust. I have worked with Mark to develop his scientific programme with NeuroRecovery Technologies and Ekso Bionics as well as co-creating our research projects with UCLA.
Appointed as a Director to the Board of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (USA), I am a practicing solicitor, am a masters graduate from The College of Europe, Bruges, hold a diploma in Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century from Harvard and I am a double-graduate of NUI Galway.
Up to this point in history it has proven to be impossible to find a cure for spinal cord injury. But we believe we can change that if enough of the right people have the will to make it happen.
So, it is the Mark Pollock Trust’s mission to find and connect those people worldwide to fast track a cure for spinal cord injury.
To fund our ongoing academic programme we are raising $ 2 million to build a hub of experts to support scientists working in this field to expand the time they spend in the lab, and collaborate across disciplines around the world.