CERSE Communications

CERSE Communications is the Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering's monthly email newsletter. Feel free to encourage others to subscribe by sharing this link. See below for a message from our Executive Director, some exciting news and more.

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Message from CERSE
Executive Director
Whether as clinicians or researchers, we work together to improve the lives of people with disabilities and chronic healthcare needs. We share values such as equality, compassion, altruism, respect and dignity. Our values are violated by the painfully familiar inequities and violence experienced by people of color; and we likely each experience different emotions that may include anger, outrage, fear, guilt, sadness and shame. We desire to take positive action to make our communities, country and world places where black lives matter and to assure that all people regardless of race, gender, orientation, or religion have equal rights, opportunities, and protections, not only under the law but in everyday practice.
During this time of global pandemic and economic uncertainty, we also feel varying levels of stress keeping our selves, families and friends cared for and healthy. Our values drive us to be a ‘good’ person, a ‘good’ partner, a ‘good’ family member, a ‘good’ friend, a ‘good’ colleague, a ‘good’ service provider, a ‘good’ leader, and a ‘good’ citizen, which can sometimes feel daunting when our standards are high and our times are challenging.
While we share many things in common, I recognize that the events that have unfolded over these last several months have affected all of us in different ways and to varying degrees. I extend my heartfelt support to everyone that has been affected large or small by the global pandemic and by racial injustice. I appreciate everyone’s efforts to help CERSE grow and for being a part of our success these past several years. I can’t express enough how much our working relationships in the pursuit of helping others means to me.
Over the next several months, we will seek further input on how CERSE can best serve our community’s research needs in these changing times, and ensure that inclusive excellence is an active, sustained component of our mission. I look forward to our continued work together

With appreciation,

Ronald T. Seel, Ph.D.
Executive Director, CERSE
Professor, PM&R, VCU School of Medicine

Meet the researcher

National expert in health policy research creates data hub

Amol Karmarkar, PhD, has created a data hub to provide health services researchers across VCU with improved access to data, and training and expert consultation on using big data to improve health policy and care. The data hub can set-up high security networks to store data for CERSE collaborators. To date, Dr. Karmarkar has collaborated with the Massey Cancer Center, the Virginia Center on Aging and the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health.  Prior to joining CERSE as a Professor in August of 2019, Dr. Karmarkar was an Associate Professor with the Division of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Karmarkar is a health services researcher, clinically trained as an Occupational Therapist, with advanced training in public health and epidemiology. His research expertise is related to health services research with a focus on utilization of health services in acute, post-acute, and community-based settings and outcomes related to receipt of these services. He utilizes Medicare, Medicaid, commercial claims, and Electronic Health Records to conduct research studies.

Exciting center news

$27.8 Million Prosthesis Restoration Trial

A multi-site research team co-led by Dr. Joseph Webster, Professor in the VCU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and rehabilitation clinician at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center (HHMVAMC) has just received a $27.8 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) to further study the efficacy and safety of a novel implant for the direct skeletal attachment of prosthetic limbs. As multi-Principal Investigator, Dr. Webster will lead the Richmond-based research team, a collaborative effort between the HHMVAMC and VCU PM&R’s Center for Rehabilitative Science and Engineering (CERSE) with a site budget of $4.2 million. Over the next six years participants with above-knee amputations will be recruited from across the U.S. and enrolled at four VA Medical Centers in Salt Lake City, Richmond, Minneapolis and Seattle.

TBI and Sleep Research

As co-investigator on a project in collaboration with Dr. Maya O'Neil at Oregon Health & Science University, Dr. Amma Agyemang, Assistant Professor with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, received $35,000 in funding. The research team, which includes Drs. Cifu and Walker, will leverage data from the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC) Longitudinal Study database and the Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) informatics system to identify actionable insights for the diagnosis, management and treatment of TBI. Dr. Agyemang will be exploring the relationship between TBI and sleep. This project is being funded by the Department of Defense.

ACRM Pandemic Webinar: Telehealth and Exercise for SCI

Dr. Ashraf Gorgey, Professor with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, recently presented for the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Pandemic Webinar Series. The webinar focused on the development of telehealth exercise protocols for persons living with spinal cord injuries. To watch a recording of the webinar visit this link.

News to share?

Email to share your accomplishments. We will include announcements about grant awards, honors and publications in future editions of CERSE Communications.

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Research administration reminder

Financial Interest Report (FIR) annual update open

All COI investigators with active research studies at VCU must complete their annual update on or after May 10th. The annual update must be completed regardless of whether you have recently updated your FIR prior to May 10th or if you have no changes to make. Protocol approvals and award dispersals will not progress until the annual update has been completed. For additional information, see the Annual FIR Update in the AIRS guide and for help email For technical help email

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