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Biography

Sanjeev Schroff, PhD
Professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering
Engr-Dept Chairperson's Office, Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Bioengineering Department
Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy (Bioengineering), University of Pennsylvania, 1976 - 1981
M.S., Master of Engineering (Electrical), McMaster University, 1974 - 1976
B.S., Bachelor of Technology (Electronics), Indian Institute of Technology, 1969 - 1974

 

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Dr. Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD is the Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh/UPMC. Dr. Sowa also serves as Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research, and Medical Director of UPMC Total Care- Musculoskeletal Health. She holds joint appointments in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering.

Dr. Sowa completed her PhD in Biochemistry and Medical Degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her PM&R residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University.  She has served as a clinician scientist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for over ten years, where she also functioned as Vice Chair for Clinical Outcomes and Quality Care.  She has been active in developing new models of care, assessment of patient reported outcomes, and inter-disciplinary work groups to improve the quality of care that we provide.  In particular, she has fostered collaboration between various disciplines to improve care of patients with low back pain.

As Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory, which has a rich history in musculoskeletal research, she leads a diverse group of scientists including engineers, physiatrists, molecular biologists, orthopaedic surgeons, and neurosurgeons working together to develop innovative treatments for spine conditions and low back pain. The ultimate goal of her research program, which has garnered national and international recognition, is to apply this knowledge to the development of individualized treatment programs for low back pain. Dr. Sowa has also established herself as a committed teacher and mentor, and is active in multiple professional societies with diverse membership, underscoring her collaborative approach.

 

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Steven Graham, MD, PhD is Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. He also serves as Director of the Geriatric Research Educational and Clinical Center (GRECC) which provides an integrated program of basic biomedical, clinical and health services research, education of trainees and practitioners, and clinical demonstration projects designed to advance knowledge regarding care of the elderly, with an emphasis on stroke. His research focuses on the mechanisms by which neurons die after stroke and brain trauma. 

Office: (412) 822-3657
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Rachel Hibbs, DPT is a Clinical Research Associate for the Human Engineering Research Laboratories.  She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013.  She has extensive experience in rehabilitation of spinal cord injury and disease as well as seating and mobility and assistive technology.  She is adjunct clinical faculty and an adjunct instructor for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Therapy. Rachel serves on the Early Career and Trainee Support Committee for the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals and volunteers as a Team Classification Reviewer for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. 

 

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Dr. George F. Wittenberg is a Neurologist in the VAPHS, and Director of the Laboratory for Research on Arm Function and Therapy (RAFT), affiliated with the Rehab Neural Engineering Labs. He arrived in Pittsburgh in 2018 as the outgoing Director of the VA Maryland Exercise and Robotics Center of Excellence. Previously, he was Director of the Rehabilitation Program within the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He obtained his doctorate degree in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, in 1991 and completed medical school in 1993 at the same university. Dr. Wittenberg had further clinical and research training at Washington University, St. Louis and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was on sabbatical 2012-2103 working with Stephan Swinnen and Ilse Jonkers on the brain basis of reaching in 3D, at KU Leuven University in Belgium in the Dept. of Kinesiology.

His ongoing research interests presently lie in using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and functional imaging to understand motor cortical reorganization following stroke and in designing and testing new methods for neurorehabilitation. He was the site principal investigator in VA Cooperative Study #558, “Robotic Assisted Upper-Limb Neurorehabilitation in Stroke Patients” and continues to study the neural plasticity that underlies robotic rehabilitation. He is developing hybrid methods of combining TMS with robotic and virtual reality training, and multimodal physiological monitoring with feedback control of robotic assistance, to maximize the return of motor function after neurological injury by harnessing activity-dependent brain plasticity.

 

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Nitin Sharma received the B.E. degree in Industrial Engineering from Thapar University, India, in 2004, and the M.S. degree and the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2008 and 2010, respectively. He was an Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Department of Physiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Since 2012, he has been an Assistant Professor with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include the modeling, optimization, and control of functional electrical stimulation-elicited walking. He has won O Hugo Schuck Award for the Best Application Paper from the 2008 American Control Conference. His current research in hybrid exoskeletons is funded by three NSF awards and one NIH R03 Award. He won NSF CAREER Award in 2018. 

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