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.

View the newsletter in your browser.

Message from CERSE
Executive Director

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect work and home activities for all on a daily basis. VCU recognizes that the pandemic may have a greater impact on some research faculty and is committed to understanding and reducing negative impacts. The VCU Office of the Vice-President of Research and Innovation, Institute for Engineering and Medicine, Wright Center, and CERSE have formed a ‘Collaborations in Mentoring Committee’ to address the impact of the pandemic on research faculty. The committee is also working on leveraging resources across entities to best serve the training and mentoring needs of junior research faculty.

The CERSE Leadership Council  has made early career faculty research training a primary goal for FY2021. CERSE and associated affiliates across VCU schools and colleges will work toward developing a research career development funding pipeline for junior faculty, leverage training opportunities across campuses and apply for training center grants.

This month’s newsletter highlights PM&R/CERSE’s Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) program. The ARRT was founded and continues to be led by Jeff Kreutzer, PhD, and for the last 25 years has been competitively funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (see newsletter story and profiles of our new ARRT fellows below). I am proud to have been an ARRT Trainee and am grateful for the mentorship I received from Jeff and Dave Cifu as part of that training program.

Thanks to all for your efforts on behalf of CERSE and I hope everyone and their families are healthy and safe.

With appreciation,

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

Meet the researcher

Overview of Department of PM&R Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Grants

Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation (NIDILRR), Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has implemented a highly effective Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) program for postdoctoral fellows over the past 25 years. To date, VCU has received $3.75 million in federal funds for the program. VCU faculty in the School of Medicine (PM&R, Neurology), College of Health Professions (Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Counseling), School of Pharmacy (Pharmacotherapy & Outcomes Sciences) and the School of Education (Rehabilitation Research and Training Center) have mentored ARRT fellows and received support for their research programs.

Neurobehavioral recovery and intervention is the focus of the VCU ARRT program. Dr. Jeffrey Kreutzer has been the Project Director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Model System for over 30 years. His breadth of knowledge and relationships with brain injury researchers across the country allows fellows to develop essential research programs and collaborate with leading multidisciplinary researchers. Mentors have included internationally and nationally renowned, distinguished scientists from the fields of rehabilitation medicine, neuropsychology, neurosurgery, pharmacology, rehabilitation counseling and vocational rehabilitation.

The majority of ARRT’s 44 graduated fellows have extensive records of achievement in research grant funding, serving as principal investigators, and leading highly regarded research teams. VCU ARRT fellows and trainees have published over 370 peer-reviewed articles or book chapters, and delivered over 300 national and international presentations. Please welcome our latest group of ARRT post-doctoral fellows (see introductions below).

Melissa Sandler, PharmD is a Neurocritical Care and Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Fellow with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation working with Dr. Gretchen Brophy. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), completed her PGY1 pharmacy residency at Grady Health System in Atlanta, GA, and her PGY2 critical care pharmacy residency at University of Washington Medicine in Seattle, WA. Her clinical and research interests include stroke, traumatic brain injury and pharmacokinetics in the critically ill. Melissa enjoys spending time outdoors, running, reading novels, and dreaming of the day she can get a dog.

Cooper Hodges, PhD is an Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Fellow with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, where he is studying the intersection between chronic substance use and traumatic brain injury using neuroimaging techniques. Raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Hodges received his Bachelors of Science in Psychology in 2016 from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He then received his doctorate in psychology (with a focus on cognitive neuroscience) from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah in 2020. During his doctoral work, he became heavily invested in ongoing research efforts both at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah that aimed to uncover the effects of repeated blast exposure on brain structure in military veterans. Dr. Hodges is also involved with a number of consortia that focus on traumatic brain injury, including the Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta Analysis (ENIGMA) consortium and the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (CENC).

Sulaiman Almohaish, PharmD is a Neurocritical Care Research Fellow with the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science working with Dr. Gretchen Brophy. He received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree at King Faisal University (KFU) and is a faculty member at the Department of Pharmacy Practice at KFU, Saudi Arabia. He then completed the Advanced Clinical Pharmacy Practice Graduate Certificate Program, finished his PGY1 hospital based pharmacy residency training, and PGY2 Internal Medicine pharmacy residency training all with the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy and at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. His areas of interest include stroke, traumatic brain injury, seizure and public health administration. In his free time, he likes playing and watching soccer, and hiking or outdoor exercising with a group of people.

Exciting center news

Perrin and Seel awarded $850K from Department of Defense

The Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to assist caregivers of veterans who are living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and dementia.
Paul Perrin, PhD, associate professor and director of the Health Psychology Doctoral Program at VCU, also a co-principal investigator of the study, and Ronald Seel, PhD, professor and executive director of the Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at VCU, is a co-investigator. The REACH Hope Behavioral Intervention, is a three-year randomized clinical trial to evaluate a behavioral intervention for caregivers of veterans with TBI and Alzheimer’s dementia or mixed dementia (AD/MD) to reduce caregiver depression, anxiety and burden, and improve veterans’ health management and safety. Click here to learn more.

New publications from CERSE researchers

Waist circumference cutoff identifying risks of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease in men with spinal cord injury (Link to download.)

Effect of Spinal Manipulative and Mobilization Therapies in Young Adults with Mild to Moderate Chronic Low Back Pain A Randomized Clinical Trial (Link to download.) Also, click here to listen to an interview with Dr. James Thomas, co-author and Director of the Motor Control Laboratory in the Department of Physical Therapy, about the clinical trial.

The COVID-19 Telepsychology Revolution: A National Study of Pandemic-Based Changes in U.S. Mental Health Care Delivery (Link to download.)

News to share?

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

VETAR Funding Reminder

Reminder to Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation faculty members that departmental VETAR proposals are currently being solicited. Proposals are due no later than Friday September 25th. Contact Devin Bowers with any questions (

Also, a reminder to all School of Medicine faculty that SOM VETAR proposals are being solicited. Proposals are due no later than Friday October 16th at midnight. Contact Zakir Ullah with any questions (

Internal Resources/Events

Research Interest Network: The Research Interest Network (RIN) was developed by Dr. Kaprea Johnson, an associate professor in the counseling and special education department in the School of Education; with technical assistance from Mr. Thomas Woodard of the VCU Alt Lab. RIN provides easy research connections between research project leads (i.e., faculty or community partners) who have an existing project and collaborators (i.e., faculty or students).

OVPRI Fall 2020 Grant Academy: The OVPRI is pleased to announce the Fall 2020 Grant Academy, a grant-writing program providing training and support for a select cohort of faculty investigators working with senior faculty, research-development experts, and research administrators, with the goal of submitting successful funding proposals. Applicants need to consistently attend all cohort workshop sessions. There will be approximately one session per month. Workshops will generally be on a Tuesday 3-5 pm. Online applications are due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday September 30th. 

External Resources/Events

Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program: The program involves an intensive Research Career Development Workshop associated with the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) annual meeting, plenary presentations at the AAP meeting, ongoing mentorship and, when ready, feedback on career development and research grants from NIH and other funding sources. Applications are due October 1.

Free Fall 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Submission: No plane tickets, hotel costs, or food budgets to worry about! In fact, no registration fees either! The NIH is bringing the Fall 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration direct to your computer…free of charge, Tuesday, October 27 – Friday, October 30! This event is designed to demystify the NIH grant application and review process!

Contact CERSE

We offer...

Development resources

We provide data management, statistical, writing, research coordination, grant application preparation and regulatory and compliance support.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering · 1223 E Marshall St · Richmond, VA 23298-5053 · USA