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Sara Izzo is a research associate at HERL and in the Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Univ. of Pittsburgh. She is the data manager for the National Spina Bifida Research Registry for the CDC since 2014 at the Mercy Adult Clinic and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Sara studied sociology and psychology at Penn State University and is currently finishing her degree at the University of Pittsburgh in neuropsychology.  Sara oversees the adult clinic’s research studies, financial assistance program and the clinic’s volunteers. As a patient with spina bifida herself, Sara piloted the Peer Support Counseling Method at the Mercy Adult Spina Bifida clinic. This program assists in providing more communicative support within the medical team and aids in the development of patient independence.  She has also served as a member of a PCORI steering committee, participating in efforts for improving the care in patients with spinal cord conditions.

 

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Bryan M. McCormick, MS, CRC, attended the University of Pittsburgh as an undergraduate, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2006. He then continued his education with the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science and Technology in 2008, with a focus in Counseling. In addition, as a part of his graduate training, Bryan received an Assistive Technology Certificate from the University of Pittsburgh.

Bryan is currently employed as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Service (BVRS) in Pittsburgh, where he provides career counseling for individuals with disabilities. He currently serves individuals from the Center for Assistive Technology (CAT), in Oakland and the Spinal Cord Unit at UPMC Mercy Hospital. In addition, Bryan currently serves as the assistive technology coordinator for the Pittsburgh OVR office.

For nearly five years, Bryan has served as a peer mentor, group leader, and cofounder of the mentoring program at UPMC Mercy Hospital, where he helps counsel and educate individuals after acquiring spinal-cord injuries. What's more, Bryan is an avid disabled athlete. He has been participating in adaptive skiing for nearly 15 years and has recently engaged in competitive hand-cycling and rowing. Bryanhas since completed a multitude of 5ks and 10ks and placed second in both the Scranton Marathon in 2013 and the Philadelphia marathon in 2016. Bryan has completed the LA, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Canton, New York City, and Miami marathons. Bryan has also completed the international distance cycling portions of both the Pittsburgh and New York City Triathlon relays. Bryan competed in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Bayada rowing regattas in Philadelphia, and has come in first place in his division each year.

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Dr. Bruce Doll RADM USN (ret) is the Assistant Vice President for Technological Research and Innovation, Office of Research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland.  He leads the development and integration of database and biobanking management within the research portfolio, Laboratory Animal Management and the advancement of novel technologies focused upon military requirements.  His formal education includes a DDS from SUNY Buffalo, Periodontics specialty certificate from Navy Postgraduate Dental School, PhD from Penn State, and MBA from the Navy Postgraduate School.  He is a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and has qualified as a LSS Black Belt. During 34 years in the US Navy, he served in leadership positions supporting NATO, US Navy and US Marine Corps, INCONUS and OCONUS. Several times deployed, RADM (ret) Doll completed his service as both first Director, Research, Development and Acquisition Directorate for the DHA in Falls Church, VA and the Deputy Commander, US Army Medical Research and Material Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland overseeing execution of the $1.6B Defense Health Program funded medical research.  He has held academic appointments with Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Oregon Health Sciences University, University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University and Rutgers University prior to coming to USUHS.  He served as the COO for the Rutgers – Cleveland Clinic Consortium for the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He has served on several scientific boards, published in the area of bone regeneration, co-author on bone regenerative patents and is a former grantee of the NIH and NIST.

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Paul. F. Pasquina, M.D., Colonel, U.S. Army (ret)

Dr. Pasquina is the Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) and the Chief of the Department of Rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).  His board certifications include PM&R, Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and Pain Medicine.  He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and USUHS.  He completed a fellowship in primary care sports medicine from USUHS and Georgetown University. His current research efforts are focused on exploring new technologies to enhance the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of combat casualties, particularly those with extremity trauma and traumatic brain injury.  These efforts are primarily concentrated through his positions as the Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research (www.CRSR.org ) and Co-Principle Investigator within the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (www.usuhs.mil/cnrm/)

Prior to his retirement from active military service, he served as the Chief of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which also included the Amputee and Traumatic Brain Injury Services. He has served as the PM&R specialty consultant to the Army Surgeon General; Senior Medical Officer of the Ortiz Level II Military Treatment Facility, International Zone, Baghdad, Iraq;  and a Secretarial appointee for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs. He continues to serve as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Material Command (MRMC), Food & Drug Agency (FDA), and as a member of the Board of Visitors for the Volgenau School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering, George Mason University and University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Dr. Pasquina has received multiple military awards, as well as awards for teaching and mentorship, including the U.S. Army’s “A” Proficiency Designation for academic excellence, the Order of Military Medical Merit, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, da Vinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Partners in Progress Heroes of Military Medicine Award, Lewis Aspey Mologne Award, Alfred Mann Foundation Scientist of Year Award, Distinguished Clinician Award from the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion Bronze, and Honorary Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

He has authored several books, multiple book chapters, and numerous journal articles and policy papers. His work as the co-editor of the Textbook of Military Medicine: Care of the Combat Amputee, was recognized with the First Place award for Technical Text from the Washington Book Publishers Association in 2010. 

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Fred Downs is a retired National Director of the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service (PSAS) and a current business owner of Fred Downs LLC., a VA certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business that has provides consultant work for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, McKinsey and Co. MITRE, IBM, HP, and Truven. Mr. Downs served as a as a combat platoon leader in the Vietnam War and went on to serve 38 years in the VA. He began his career with the VA as a management analyst in Denver, Colorado, in the early 1970s and became director of PSAS in 1980. He also served as chief procurement and logistics officer and chief consultant of PSAS for the VA's Veterans Health Administration. During his leadership, PSAS became the largest and most comprehensive provider of prosthetic devices and sensory aids in the world. Today, Mr. Downs continues to advocate for the VA and its services. He is also a highly regarded subject-matter expert who advises on healthcare administration, financial management, logistics, procurement, and supply-chain management.

 

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Dr. Rob A. Rutenbar joined the University of Pittsburgh in July 2017 as our new Senior Vice Chancellor for Research. In his new role, he oversees research initiatives and innovative opportunities while enriching the University’s technological partnerships. He manages the University’s Center for Research Computing, Economic Partnerships, the Innovation Institute, the Office of Export Controls, the Office of Research, the Research Conduct and Compliance Office, and the Radiation Safety Office. In addition, he holds faculty appointments in the Swanson School of Engineering and the School of Computing and Information.

Dr. Rutenbar has nearly 40 years of experience in innovation and technology. His research focuses on three broad categories: tools for a wide variety of integrated circuit design issues, methods for managing the statistics of nanoscale chip design, and custom computer architectures for perceptual and data analytics problems.

Prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Rutenbar served as the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also served as a faculty member within Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for 25 years. 

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Laurie Paquet has played a significant role in the creation of Assistive Technologies throughout her decade-long role at Kinova. Being Kinova’s third employee, Laurie has been a key player in the development of Kinova’s Assistive Division.

Born and raised in Quebec City, Laurie studied business at Laval University, knowing that her path would lead her to a company whose mission was to make a positive impact on the world. In school, Laurie studied ways in which communities could build centres for families taking care of individuals with limited mobility. A few years into her career, Laurie was introduced to Charles Deguire. Once she learned about Kinova’s mission, Laurie moved closer to Montreal, and joined the team as a Business Development Executive. Eventually, her role at Kinova evolved to become entirely focused on the Assistive Division.

Today, Laurie’s day-to-day revolves around strategizing ways to increase the accessibility rates and ease of adoption for end-users. Through engaging with end-users and collaborating with therapists and medical professionals, Laurie is able to refine our product to meet varying needs: combining feedback from users and therapists to constantly iterate our product and improve the experience for users.

Laurie plays a key role in the direction of the company, devising plans with the entire executive team, prioritizing Assistive Technology development to match market accessibility. As one of the key collaborators with end-users and therapists, Laurie is a collaborator both inside the walls of Kinova and outside in the community. Breaking down barriers is a key function of her day-to-day at Kinova.

When looking back on her decade at Kinova, Laurie reflects on the most impactful moments of her career, which always come back to end-users and seeing their reaction to the product. Laurie’s current objectives include changing the paradigm of Assistive Technologies to ensure human mobility is viewed from the framework of one’s entire body, and to increase the long-term adoption rates among end-users.

What does it mean to achieve the extraordinary? Achieving the extraordinary is stripping down barriers to bring technologies to people, effectively giving them autonomy and independence to express themselves as individuals.   

 

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Leah R. Gray, MBA, CESP is an Independent Living Coordinator for Disability Options Network. She received her Masters’ degree in Business Administration and Sports Management from Robert Morris University. She also received her Associate of Science degree in Business Management and a Bachelors’ degree in Business Administration/Accounting from Edinboro University. She has more than 20 years of experience in working with people with disabilities. Ms. Gray was a member for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association for more than 25 years and has competed in various adapted sports at many different levels of competition. She is the proud mother of 2 children – Peyton and Donovan.

 

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