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The field of Rehabilitation Science encompasses basic and applied aspects of the health sciences, social science and engineering as they relate to restoring human functional capacity and improving a person's interactions with the surrounding environment.

Established in 2001, the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB developed an infrastructure to support research related to rehabilitation, disability and recovery. Programs include a respected PhD program, career training and development, funding opportunities for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, and infrastructure for large data research and data sharing.

Facts & Figures

There are 10 students currently enrolled in the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program and 2 fellows completing postdoctoral training. To date, 34 PhD degrees have been conferred and 41 fellows have completed postdoctoral training. Students and Postdoctoral Trainees have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of research activities in Rehabilitation Sciences through our programs.

2019 News

Jaspreet Sodhi (8/2015)  Rehab Sciences  07/16/19

Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program student Jaspreet Sodhi defended her dissertation, “Pain, disablement process and frailty among older adults in the united states: findings from the national health and aging trends study,” on July 16, 2019.

Julianna Bores, MS (8/2016)  Rehab Sciences  06/14/19

Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program student Julianna Dean defended her dissertation, “The influence of social capital on successful community discharge after post-acute care among medicare beneficiaries,” on June 14, 2019.

Julianna Bores, MS (8/2016)  Rehab Sciences  06/14/19

Julianna Dean is the current "Student Spotlight" for the UTMB Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She says, "Pursuing a PhD has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never climbed one of the seven summits, but I’ll place earning a PhD up there with scaling Everest or Kilimanjaro. Determination and fortitude are pre-requisites. Resiliency is checked often. However, any struggle along the way..." Read more at the GSBS website.

photo  Rehab Sciences  06/11/19

Associate Professor Monique Pappadis, MEd, PhD has been selected by the School of Health Professions Dean's Office to attend the 2020 Teaching Professor Annual Conference.

photo  Rehab Sciences  05/22/19

Assistant Professor Kimberly Hreha, EdD, OTR/L has been selected as the inaugural Pepper Centers Coordinating Center Early Career Scholar exchange program. Dr. Hreha is a scholar in the UTMB Pepper Center.

This program was designed to offer collaborative mentoring or exposure to a diverse conceptual viewpoints and operational methods, beyond those available at their faculty institution.

Dr. Hreha will travel to Duke to work with Dr. Heather Whitson, Associate Professor in Medicine and Ophthalmology, and Deputy Director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Dr. Whitson also leads Duke’s Pepper Center Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core.
photo  Rehab Sciences  04/18/19

Assistant Professor Rachel Deer, PhD has been selected as a finalist for the Nutritional Translation Award Competition for Early Career Investigators. She will give a presentation during the competition at the American Society of Nutrition annual meeting in June, 2019.

photo  Rehab Sciences  04/10/19

Associate Professor Monique Pappadis, MEd, PhD presented a keynote address, "Educating Families and Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Are We Doing Enough?" at the Annual Council on Brain Injury Conference. on April 9, 2019 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

blue green data graphic of silhoette of woman  Rehab Sciences  04/10/19

A new scientific journal article has been published, Data Science in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Opportunities and Challenges, by Division Director Ken Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR and colleagues James Graham, PhD, DC, Professor of Occupational Therapy and Director of the Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) from Colorado State University and Steve Fisher, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at UTMB.

Key points

  • Data science represents a new approach to developing knowledge in biomedical research.
  • Data science is producing innovative ways to acquire, store, analyze, and interpret large amounts of diverse medical and health-related information.
  • The implementation of data science will enhance the ability of physical medicine and rehabilitation to reduce disability and improve health care services and outcomes.
photo  Sealy Center on Aging  04/02/19

A new paper, A Phase I Randomized Clinical Trial of Evidence-Based, Pragmatic Interventions to Improve Functional Recovery After Hospitalization in Geriatric Patients, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences shows potential new ways to speed up recovery from the hospital. UTMB researchers, led by Elena Volpi, MD, PhD, tried different strategies to boost the function of older adults hospitalized for an acute illness. Read press release from Sealy Center on Aging.

This article was the result of a pilot study performed in the Acute Care for Elders Unit at UTMB.

Lead author Rachel R. Deer, PhD is an Assistant Professor, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB. She also has appointments in the Division of Nutrition and Metabolism and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Deer is an RL5 Scholar in the UTMB Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Center. Her research focuses on interventions to accelerate functional recovery from hospitalization in older adults.

Ted Graber, PhD (4/2015)  Rehab Sciences  01/17/19

Congratulations on new publication, Skeletal Muscle Specific Knockout of DEP Domain-Containing 5 Increases mTORC1 Signaling, Muscle Cell Hypertrophy, and Mitochondrial Respiration by Ted G. Graber, Christopher S. Fry, Camille R. Brightwell, Tatiana Moro, Rosario Maroto, Nisha Bhattari, Craig Porter, Maki Wakamiya and Blake B. Rasmussen.

In this study, we knocked out the gene for DEPDC5, which is a subunit of the GATOR1 protein complex (a negative regulator of mTORC1—the master regulator of protein synthesis), in adult skeletal muscle in mice. GATOR1 shuts off protein synthesis in the cell when there are insufficient amino acids present. When we depleted DEPDC5, we determined a constitutive activation of mTORC1 leading to muscle hypertrophy increased mitochondrial respiration without functional improvements. Thus, we uncovered a role for DEPDC5/GATOR1 in the regulation of mitochondrial respiration, hinting that amino acid sensing apparatus in the cell may be more involved in metabolic programming than previously thought

Dr. Graber is a member of the Muscle Biology Laboratory team in the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity, and Nutrition and a postdoctoral trainee in the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences at UTMB.

Julianna Bores, MS (8/2016)  Rehab Sciences  01/16/19

Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Student Julianna Bores, MS has authored her first, first-author publication, "Use of Isokinetic Dynamometry to Assess Muscle Function in Burned Patients is a Reliable Tool to Assist Progressive Resistance Exercise Prescription." Congrats, Julianna!

photo  Rehab Sciences  01/07/19

Rehabilitation Sciences Assistant Professor Brian Downer, PhD is the recipient of a K01 Grant, "Improvement in Patients’ Cognition and Relationship with SNF Quality Measures." from the National Institute on Aging of the NIH. Congratulations, Dr. Downer!

photo: NW corner of UTMB SHP/SON

Contact the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences
 (409) 747-1637
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