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

CERSE continues to grow as VCU’s interdisciplinary rehabilitation research engine. In 2020 CERSE researchers have been awarded 10 new grants with total awards of over $16M and have submitted 25 grants with potential new total awards of over $15M. We have completed the CERSE webpage, which highlights our research programs, transdisciplinary research collaborations, grant awards and faculty and staff.

This month, our ‘Meet the Researcher’ section highlights CERSE faculty member Zina Trost, PhD, who is conducting innovative research on portable virtual reality applications in pain, SCI, and stroke.

CERSE faculty Amol Karmarkar, PhD, is directing rehabilitation research at the Sheltering Arms Institute with Devin Bowers, CERSE Associate Director of Research Development, leading research administrative support (see newsletter story below.)

The CERSE Leadership Council is working on increasing communications and processes between schools/colleges, centers, and local/regional institutions to facilitate grant collaborations. The VCU Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI) has awarded CERSE $50K to facilitate collaborative grant submissions including pilot funds.

We have completed a CERSE donor brochure to solicit potential individual, organization and foundation donors. We are working with the SOM Foundation to identify potential donors and are writing proposals for foundation and industry funding requests.

Thanks to all for your efforts on behalf of CERSE and I hope everyone and their families are healthy and finding time to enjoy the summer.

With appreciation,

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

Meet the researcher

Innovative researcher trailblazing VR as a tool for rehabilitation

Dr. Zina Trost is a clinical health psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, where she leads an innovative research program focusing on adapting virtual reality and gaming technologies to address pain and rehabilitation. Her work has received national and international research support, including funding from the American Pain Society, International Association for the Study of Pain, National Institutes of Health, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, and Department of Defense. Dr. Trost received her Bachelor’s in Psychology in 2003 from Fordham University in New York City where she grew-up. She received her doctorate in Clinical Health Psychology from Ohio University in Athens, OH where she first began to explore her interests in chronic pain and illness. During her internship at the University of Washington Medical Center Dr. Trost further developed interests in the area of rehabilitation psychology, particularly factors that influence individuals’ adjustment to traumatic injury. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in pain research at McGill University in Montreal and then joined the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in August 2015. Dr. Trost has developed a number of international collaborations with colleagues in Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada.

Exciting center news

Budding research collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute

On June 13th the Sheltering Arms Institute (SAI) opened and started providing care to patients. The institute is a collaboration between Sheltering Arms Hospital and VCU Health, and is the only facility in central Virginia constructed solely to provide physical rehabilitation. This collaboration “blends advanced technology, research, and evidence-based clinical treatment to create an innovative, transdisciplinary model of rehabilitative care that will facilitate superior outcomes for patients.” Under the leadership of Dr. Amol Karmakar, as the Director of Research, SAI and CERSE will work together to accelerate research that drives rehabilitation breakthroughs. Examples of future collaborations include working with big data to improve patient outcomes and establishing a spinal cord injury model system.

Trost, Peterson, Goetz, Pidcoe and Gustin awarded $71,250 in VETAR funding

Dr. Zina Trost and co-investigators (Carrie Peterson, Ph.D.; Lance Goetz, M.D.; Peter Pidcoe, DPT, Ph.D.; and Sylvia Gustin, Ph.D.) have received an award from the Value and Efficiency Teaching and Research (VETAR) program, which is a competitive, pilot grant program supported by VCU Health with the goal of promoting scientific research and education within the School of Medicine. This proposal is a CERSE collaboration between VCU's School of Medicine, Colleges of Engineering and Health Professions, the Central Virginia VA Healthcare System and the University of New South Wales Sydney. Dr. Trost and collaborators will test the feasibility, safety and efficacy of a virtual reality walking interface and capitalize on the related haptic, volitional, and embodiment capabilities of the interface in combination with targeted sensorimotor cortex stimulation via transcranial direct current stimulation. This approach will simultaneously enhance surviving sensory spinal nerve fibers and somatosensory (touch) signals in the brain in an effort to restore touch perception among individuals with dis-complete spinal cord injuries.

News to share?

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

External events

NIH Conference on Rehabilitation Research

The trans-NIH Conference on Rehabilitation Research is virtual and scheduled for October 15-16, 2020. This meeting will help inform the revision of the Congressionally mandated NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation. For more information and to register, click here.

Gulf War Illness State of the Science Conference

Co-hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development and the Department of Defense Congressionaly Directed Medical Research Programs Gulf War Illness Research Program, the purpose of this virtual conference is to present and advance the state of the science regarding GWI, raise awareness of the federal research funding landscape, and to encourage collaboration and enable idea exchange among research groups and across disciplines. Click here for more information and to register.

Contact CERSE

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