MEDSTAR NRH-GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY WINS PRESTIGIOUS FIVE-YEAR NIH K12 GRANT

A joint MedStar NRH-Georgetown University program has been awarded a five-year, $3.5 million grant to provide seed money to promote the career development of the next generation of academic rehabilitation clinician-scientists.  One of just four networks nationwide to receive the K12 award, the MedStar-Georgetown program is the only one in the nation designed to foster the independent research of a multidisciplinary group of researchers who will develop the treatments of the future. 

These scholars will include individuals with any advanced neurorehabilitation-related degree including MD or MD/PhD physicians (neurologists, neurosurgeons, geriatricians, physiatrists) as well as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, bioengineers, and others.  

Multidisciplinary Research Focused on One Issue

“Our grant, which is the first for the department of rehabilitation medicine at Georgetown University, has been designed to attract faculty-appointed rehab clinicians across disciplines focused on a single issue—disabling chronic neurological disorders,” explains Alexander Dromerick, MD, MedStar NRH chief research officer, who serves as program director with Barbara Bregman, PhD, professor of Neuroscience and Rehabilitation Medicine.

The MedStar NRH/Georgetown program, named the Neurorehabilitation and Restorative Neuroscience Training Network (NRNTN), also includes an executive committee from among the nation’s most successful translational neuroscience/neurorehabilitation investigators with a track record of interdisciplinary research training.  “We’re creating a community of scholars and mentors focused on approaching these diseases and injuries from many angles,” Dr. Dromerick adds.

In addition to the coordinating sites of Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, additional primary sites include John Hopkins /Kennedy Krieger Institute, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Maryland/Kernan and Cornell/Burke Rehabilitation Hospitals. The program three critical goals:

  • To provide outstanding research training and mentorship for clinical scholars in neurorehabilitation
  • To create a community of scholars
  • To prepare rehabilitation clinician investigators for sustained and productive academic careers in neurorehabilitation

Career Development and Networking

“The program provides more than money,” says Dr. Bregman.  “These young faculty members will have access to a nationally respected group of mentors and other scholars—an environment that encourages exchange of ideas among clinicians and researchers from across the U.S. and across disciplines, from basic science to clinical trials."

Grantees and mentors will meet at least twice a year, once at the American Society of Neurorehabilitation and another spring meeting held at a major institution.  “As the network grows the meetings will become a fertile ground for a cadre of hundreds of scientists—and a way to jumpstart new interventions for neurorehabilitation,” says Dr. Dromerick.

“It’s more than exchanging ideas about research, it’s also a way to develop teaching skills, the importance of donor relationships and learn how to juggle the many responsibilities that come with pursuing an academic career,” says Dr. Bregman.

Grantees are required to have a faculty appointment and be supported by a strong institutional commitment to neurorehabilitation. Four awards will be made in the first round of funding for two-years of support.  The grantees may come from any institution in the country—and from any discipline as long as the research is focused on disabling neurological conditions.

“We hope to award our first grants sometime this Fall,” says Dr. Bregman.

“The program will help ultimately set the stage for the translation of basic and clinical research into the mechanisms underlying recovery of function after central nervous system injury,” says Dr. Dromerick. “The bottom line is to improve the quality of life of individuals with CNS injury and disease.”

By Emily Turk
MNRH Communications