Kinesiology & Applied Physiology
Over my 30-year career, my research has touched on a variety of topics, ranging from gait and movement analysis and chronic health conditions to modeling pediatric obesity.
The common thread that joins these seemingly disparate topics is my interest in finding generalized solutions to compelling problems. I like to be exceedingly objective in my approach—I’ve found that the results when you do that can be very revealing. In the area of gait analysis, for example, my team has developed generalized systems of equations that can be readily adapted to different people, movement patterns, and devices.
We’re now applying this approach to the development of virtual prototyping methods to make custom ankle-foot orthoses for wounded warriors in concert with a UD-led national program called the BADER Consortium. We’re actually “printing” these devices to the exact specifications of individual patients and can deliver them within 24 hours rather having patients wait weeks for custom orthotics. In short, we’re working to interface patients directly with the digital manufacturing world.
The interesting thing about the generalized solution concept as the foundation of my research is that it can be applied not only to specific problems in health science but also to entire systems.
For example, through the Delaware INBRE Program, which is aimed at building Delaware’s biomedical research infrastructure, we’ve developed a model pilot grant process to support the career development of young researchers. Once it’s been shown to be effective, this process can be incorporated into any program, anywhere, that’s aimed at establishing or strengthening an organization’s research infrastructure.
Similarly, with the BADER Consortium—which includes military treatment facilities, hospitals, and academic institutions across the U.S.—we modeled how a research enterprise of this size and scope could work, and that knowledge can be applied to research consortia addressing virtually any area of interest.
Under one of our newer programs, STRiDE, we’re now modeling the translational research process and determining the steps a researcher—whether it’s an engineer or a psychologist—should take to effectively partner with clinicians on translational research. Delaware has remarkable clinical research resources. There are lots of places throughout the country, from NIH to Harvard to the Mayo Clinic, that know how best to use these capabilities. With STRiDE we’re looking to put those mechanisms—for example, recruitment of human subjects across institutions—into place for effective collaboration.
One of our next efforts will focus on developing a model system for kids with cerebral palsy at the A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, where we’ve begun developing ankle-foot orthoses to meet their specific needs.
I came to the University of Delaware five years ago to be a change agent, and the way you do that, in my opinion, is to move programs forward by positive example. I learned a lot from my many years at NIH, and I take pride in applying much of that knowledge here.