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RMSTP: Advisory Board
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Current RMSTP advisory board

Michael L. Boninger, MD

Dr. Michael Boninger directs the RMSTP along with Dr. Whyte. Dr. Boninger is UPMC Endowed Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds adjunct appointments in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology and the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Boninger also works as a physician researcher for the VA and as the senior medical director for post-acute care for the health services division of UPMC.

Dr. Boninger graduated from Ohio State University with both a medical doctorate and a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He received his specialty training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. After residency, he completed a one-year research fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. He has devoted at least 75% of his time to research since completing his residency. Dr. Boninger’s central research focus is on enabling increased function and participation for individuals with disabilities through development and application of assistive, rehabilitative and regenerative technologies. Dr. Boninger was appointed Assistant and then Associate Dean for Medical Student research from 2004 until 2010. In this role, he was responsible for the requirement that each medical student at Pitt complete a research project. Mentorship and research education where key components of this job. In this role, he published several papers on research education in Academic Medicine26-28 and was the editor of a focus section in the journal.

Dr. Boninger has received funding as PI from the National Institutes of Health, the VA Affairs, NIDILRR and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He has also received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Science Foundation. He is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury (UPMC-SCI), funded by NIDILRR. Dr. Boninger has considerable experience in research training. In addition to his work with the RMSTP, he has held T32 and T35 grants which are designed to foster research development among post-doctoral clinicians and medical students respectively. Under Dr. Boninger’s supervision, medical students, residents, and graduate students have won over 55 national research awards. Dr. Boninger’s is an investigator on the NIH center entitled Alliance for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research and Training (AR3T). This grant is part of the NIH funded Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Network. AR3T has a major training component, including sabbaticals, an annual conference and web-based materials.

Dr. Boninger has served as a grant reviewer for the VA from 1997 to 2003, and for the NIH function, integration and rehabilitation study group. He has been chair of two data safety monitoring boards, one funded through the VA and one through NIH. Thus, he is very familiar with grantsmanship and peer review. He has over 230 peer reviewed journal publications including articles related to research training. He has lectured internationally on biomechanics, assistive technology, robotics, direct brain interfaces and research education. He also holds four U.S. patents. Dr. Boninger serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.


John Whyte, MD, PhD


Dr. Whyte is a physiatrist and experimental psychologist specializing in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. He is the founding director of the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, begun in 1992. His research focuses on cognitive impairment after TBI, including assessment and treatment, with a major emphasis on disorders of attention, executive function, and consciousness. In addition to his empirical research, he has a longstanding interest in the special challenges posed by rehabilitation treatment trials, the difficulties in defining rehabilitation treatments, the role of theory in guiding rehabilitation research, and the process of translating scientific advances into practical rehabilitation treatment interventions. His research has been funded by the NIH, NIDILRR, PCORI, the Department of Defense, and a number of private foundations. He has received numerous awards for his research contributions including Distinguished Academician from the Association of Academic Physiatrists, and the Moody Prize for contributions to brain injury research and practice, and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2015.


Pablo Celnik, MD, PhD


Dr. Pablo Celnik is director of the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and physiatrist-in-chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He serves as Chair for research in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, medical director of the outpatient neurorehabilitation program, and director of the Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory. He is internationally-recognized for his expertise in neurologic rehabilitation, particularly with stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Celnik's research focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying motor learning and motor recovery after brain lesions, and on developing new strategies to enhance motor recovery after stroke. As director of the Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory at Johns Hopkins, he has published more than 60 manuscripts in highly regarded journals and books. Dr Celnik’s research has formed the foundational knowledge for the application of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, like transcranial magnetic and electric stimulation, to understand recovery after brain lesions, augment motor learning and design novel rehabilitation training interventions.

A native of Argentina, Dr. Celnik received his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine. He completed his residency training in neurology in Argentina and a fellowship in neurological rehabilitation at the University of Maryland. He also earned two research fellowships in the lab of Dr. Mark Hallett, first, and Dr. Leonardo G. Cohen later on, both at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the year 2000, he entered the PM&R residency program at Johns Hopkins, where he was ultimately appointed chief resident. Since 2003, he has been part of the Johns Hopkins faculty in the PM&R, neurology and neuroscience departments.

Dr. Celnik has received numerous prestigious awards. In particular, in 2010 he received from President Obama the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. In 2016 he received the Carolyn L. Braddom Research Award from the AAP, an award recognizes an individual who has conducted research that has had the most significant impact on the science and practice of PM&R. In addition, he has been awarded the 2010 Outstanding Neurorehabilitation Clinician Scientist Award from the American Society of Neurorehabilitation; the Clinician Scientist Award from The Johns Hopkins University; the 2006 Dennis W. Jahnigen Career Development Scholars Award from the American Geriatric Society; and the Young Academician Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists for outstanding academic performance.

Dr. Celnik is an associate editor of the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is actively involved in the Association of Academic Physiatrist, serving in the Advisory Board of the Rehabilitation Medicine Training Program (RMSTP) and on the Research Committee.


Leighton Chan, MD, MPH

Dr. Leighton Chan is a Tenured Senior Scientist and the Chief of Rehabilitation Medicine at the NIH Clinical Research Center, a 200 bed research hospital on the NIH campus.  He received his BA degree from Dartmouth College and his MD from the UCLA School of Medicine.  He received residency training in PM & R at the University of Washington.  Subsequently, he completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar Fellowship, earned an MPH at the UW School of Public Health, and was a Congressional Fellow for the Honorable Jim McDermott (Washington).  In 2007, after 10 years on the faculty of the University of Washington, Dr. Chan took his current position at NIH where he manages a department of 100 staff and students who support NIH's Intramural Research Program.

Dr. Chan has concentrated his research efforts on studying the services provided to individuals with disabilities.  His areas of focus have been payment systems for rehabilitation, and the health care delivered to Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities, and the Social Security Disability Insurance system.  He has published more than 100 peer reviewed articles, including 10 in JAMA, Lancet and NEJM, and has received research funding in excess of $50 million.  In 2007, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine.


David Morgenroth, MD


Dr. David Morgenroth is Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. He is also Associate Director of the Amputee Rehabilitation Fellowship at VA Puget Sound Health Care System (one of only two amputee fellowships in the United States) and is an Investigator in the VA RR&D Center for Limb Loss and Mobility (CLiMB).

Dr. Morgenroth’s clinical care and research focuses on improving mobility and quality of life in those with anatomic or functional limb loss. His research has been funded by the NIH, VA and Department of Defense. He is also a dedicated educator on the subjects of amputee rehabilitation and gait biomechanics. He has been invited to give numerous research and educational talks nationally and internationally.

Dr. Morgenroth grew up in New York City, then attended UC Berkeley where he studied gait biomechanics. He subsequently returned to NYC where he was a 6th grade math and science teacher before attending medical school at the State University of New York, Brooklyn (Downstate). He completed his residency training at the University of Washington where he received the Resident of the Year award. After residency, he completed a 3-year NIH-funded K12 grant though the RMSTP followed by a 5-year VA Career Development Award.

Dr. Morgenroth has received numerous awards including the Young Academician Award and Scientific Paper Presentation and Research Writing awards from the AAP, as well as the Teacher of the Year award from the University of Washington Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Dr. Morgenroth serves on the editorial board of the Archives of PM&R and as a grant reviewer for the VA. He is chair of the AAP Research Committee and a member of the AAP Board of Trustees. 


Leslie Morse, DO


Dr. Leslie Morse, DO, is the Endowed Medical Director of Research, Craig Hospital and Associate Professor, Department of PMR, University of Colorado.  


Her research, as well as her clinical focus, is the care of individuals with SCI, with a long-term goal of developing mechanism-based therapies to prevent and treat SCI-induced osteoporosis. To that end, she is studying the effect of robotic-assisted gait-training on bone health with a clinical trial award from the Department of Defense.  She is also the Co-Project Director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Injury System.


Dr. Morse completed her medical training at the University of New England and her residency in PM&R at Boston Medical Center.  Author of more than 50 publications, she has received several national best-paper awards and presented her work nationally and internationally.

Research interests:  spinal cord injury and osteoporosis, therapies for bone health in SCI, biomarkers of bone health in SCI.

Carmen M. Terzic, MD, PhD

carmen terzic

Dr. Terzic is Chair of the Department of Medicine and Rehabilitation with a joint appointment in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She is associate medical director of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation program and holds the academic rank of Professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Dr. Terzic received the M.D. degree at University Centro Occidental Lisandro Alvarado,Venezuela. She completed a residency at University Hospital in Barquisimeto and a fellowship at Inter-American Bank of Development and Venezuelan National Council of Research, Science and Technology. She received the M.Sci. degree in physiology and biophysics from the Venezuelan National Institute for Research and the Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology from Mayo Graduate School. Furthermore, Dr. Terzic completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular research, an internship in the Department of Internal Medicine and a residency in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – all at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Terzic has received numerous honors and awards during her training and career, such as the Earl Elkins Award for outstanding Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Resident and the Outstanding Senior Research Presentation Award from Mayo Clinic; the Young Investigator Award and the Antonio Jose de Sucre Award for academic excellence from the Ministry of Science, Government of the Republic of Venezuela; and chancellor’s recognition as the top graduate of the medical school class from Lisandro Alvarado Mid-Western University. Dr. Terzic received the Distinguished Academician Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists in April, 2011.

She holds professional memberships in organizations including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the Association of Academic Physiatrists. In addition, Dr. Terzic serves on Mayo Clinic committees and as a teacher and mentor. She has given multiple presentations around the world. She serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Her clinical interests include cardiovascular and neuromuscular rehabilitation, and her research focuses on regenerative medicine and stem cell-based cardiac repair, nuclear transport, intracellular calcium homeostasis. As a principal investigator and co-investigator, her work has been funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the American Heart Association, among other organizations. Dr. Terzic has reported research findings in over 80 manuscripts and textbook chapters. Her work has been published in leading journals, such as Science, Nature Cell Biology, Science Translational Medicine, Circulation, Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, Circulation Research, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Genome Biology and Stem Cells.

She is active on a number of national and international specialty societies and is recognized globally for her groundbreaking research and contributions to national and international clinical guidelines and practice in the area of cardiovascular diseases/prevention and rehabilitation. 

In her personal time, Dr. Terzic was a competitive fencer since the age of 8 and a member of the national fencing team of Venezuela during the years 1978-1992. She entered The Sport Hall of Fame in Venezuela in 2012. She enjoys reading and art — and often visits the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center and the Ordway Theater.


NIH Liaison: Ralph Nitkin, PhD

Ralph Nitkin, Ph.D., is the Deputy Director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), which is located within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the NIH.  He received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the area of biological sciences, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in cellular neurobiology.  His postdoctoral studies at Stanford University and later work as an assistant professor at Rutgers University focused on the cellular and molecular basis of nerve-muscle synapse formation.  For the past 24 years he has worked as a science administrator at the NICHD, first in the area of mental retardation and developmental disabilities and for the last fifteen years in the area of medical rehabilitation. 

Dr. Nitkin has been heavily involved in the formation of the rehabilitation research infrastructure networks (www.NCMRR.ORG), the annual rehab grant-writing workshop (formerly ERRIS, currently called TIGRR), and special career-development networks for physiatrists, for physical/occupational therapists, and more recently for rehab engineers. He has helped promote NIH research initiatives in such diverse areas as genomic factors that affect rehab outcomes, promotion of exercise and diet in children with disabilities, clinical trial design in rehab, technologies for healthy independent living, and research workforce diversity. He looks forward to continuing to work with rehab researchers as well as those from allied fields.




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