Dr. Ottenbacher earned BS degrees in Health Sciences in 1972 from
the University of Montana and in Occupational Therapy in 1975 from the University of Central Arkansas. He completed a MS in 1976 (University of Tennessee) and a PhD in 1982 (University of Missouri-Columbia), both in Special Education and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Ottenbacher was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University at Buffalo before joining the School of Health Professions at UTMB in 1995 (then the School of Allied Health Sciences). He served as Vice Dean
from 1995 to 2001 when he became the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences. Dr. Ottenbacher was appointed as Associate Director in the Sealy Center on Aging in 1998 by Dr. James Goodwin and continues to serve in that role with Director, Dr. Elena Volpi and Associate Director, Dr. Rebeca Wong.
As director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, Dr. Ottenbacher led the development of the PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences in
2000, with the first student completing the program in 2004. The program (now directed by Dr. Soham Al Snih) has accepted 55 students and conferred 37 degrees with 13 students currently enrolled. He also developed and led the Postdoctoral Research Training Program, which has accepted 50 fellows, one currently enrolled and 49 completed their training. Dr. Ottenbacher has
been a mentor for 11 K-award scholars and the PI of a NIH K12 national training grant funded since 2007, which
also includes the University of Florida and the University of Southern California. He also started the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences in 2000, an institutional center (now referred to as the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition, directed by Dr. Blake Rasmussen), that supports interdisciplinary research related to rehabilitation, disability, recovery and nutrition.
Dr. Ottenbacher's research focuses on rehabilitation outcomes with an emphasis on functional performance, disability, and frailty in older adults. He has published > 400 articles that have been cited over 14,600 times (Scopus). Dr. Ottenbacher has
received continuous federal funding as a principal investigator since 1984 totaling more than $40 million. He is a past member of the NIH Advisory Board for the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research and has served on multiple study sections
and review panels.
Dr. Ottenbacher is a Fellow in the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the Gerontological Society of America (Health Sciences Division). He is the recipient of numerous awards
that reflect his commitment to promoting the field of rehabilitation science and developing research and training programs. He holds the Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at UTMB. In 2010 he received the
Award of Merit from the American Occupational Therapy Association, in 2016 he received the Gold Key Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine; and in 2017 Dr. Ottenbacher was named to the 100 most influential people in
Occupational Therapy by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
View photos from the celebration held on June 9, 2021.