Who We Are
The Delaware Rehabilitation Institute comprises University of Delaware faculty and graduate students from various scientific fields representing five colleges and 10 university departments. DRI facilitates interdisciplinary research among its members to advance rehabilitative medicine. Together, we are making UD a leading national center for physical rehabilitation research.
Dr. Thomas S. Buchanan, director of the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, is also the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He received a BS from UCSD in applied mechanics & engineering sciences (bioengineering) and a PhD in theoretical & applied mechanics from Northwestern University. After completing post-doctoral work at MIT in brain & cognitive sciences, he was given a faculty appointment back at Northwestern in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and had a lab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. From there he moved to the University of Delaware's Department of Mechanical Engineering and became director of the Center for Biomechanical Engineering Research. Dr. Buchanan also served as academic director of UD's interdisciplinary Biomechanics & Movement Science graduate program. Buchanan served as Chairman of UD's Department of Mechanical Engineering and as deputy dean of the College of Engineering before being appointed the inaugural director of the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute. Outside of UD, he has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics and as president of the American Society of Biomechanics. Buchanan holds the rank of fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Buchanan has been principal investigator on over $25 million of NIH research grants.
Dr. Gregory Hicks is an associate professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Physical Therapy. His role within DRI and our COBRE III is to offer expertise in methodological issues and statistical analysis. During the course of his training, he has worked as a clinical trials coordinator and research associate for several large-scale, musculoskeletal research projects. Dr. Hicks has also trained at the National Institute on Aging where he was intimately involved in protocol development and daily operations of a large-scale epidemiologic study on aging. By nature of the clinical research and epidemiologic work that he does, he has a strong history of collaboration with multidisciplinary teams, including physicians, engineers, epidemiologists, data managers and biostatisticians.
Specifically, his regular collaborations with an NIH-funded biostatistician have led to publications focused on statistical methodology. In summary, Dr. Hicks’s specific training and expertise in the areas of musculoskeletal rehabilitation, clinical research, epidemiology and biostatistics have uniquely prepared him to be a member of this collaborative team.
Associate Professor Jill S. Higginson joined the UD faculty in 2004. Her research, which focuses on neuro-musculo-skeletal biomechanics, is conducted through mechanical engineering's Center for Biomedical Engineering Research (CBER). Higginson earned her PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, her M.S. degree in bioengineering from Penn State University, and her B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.
Dr. Higginson and her research group are working to improve understanding of muscle coordination in normal and pathological movement through coupled experimental and simulation studies. She is a co-investigator on the COBRE III’s Patient-Specific Modeling Core. The objectives of the PSM Core are to provide tools to address specific aims motion capture and simulation involving human subjects and share knowledge with investigators, students and the biomechanics community through training and outreach activities.
Dr. Kurt Manal is a research assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering with appointments in Biomedical Engineering and the Biomechanics and Movement Science Program. Dr. Manal received his PhD in biomechanics & movement science from the University of Delaware in 1998. He then conducted post-doctoral training in the Department of Mechanical Engineering using and developing neuromuscular models to study normal and pathological movement. Dr. Manal’s current research interests include the prediction of muscle forces and joint loading in patients with ACL injury and in people with knee osteoarthritis.
Dr. Lynn Snyder-Mackler is the Alumni Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware. Dr. Snyder-Mackler received her ScD: in applied anatomy and physiology in 1990 from Boston University, her master’s degree in organizational behavior in 1984 from the University of Pennsylvania. Also from the University of Pennsylvania she received her Certificate in Physical Therapy in 1980 and her BS in quantitative studies from Johns Hopkins University in 1978.
Dr. Snyder-Mackler is responsible for the overall administration and oversight of the DRI Clinical Research Core staff including three medical service representatives, a research coordinator, data analyst, and biostatistician. Further she will regularly interact with the principal investigators of the research projects within the COBRE to facilitate and enhance their scientific work.
Ryan Polhig is our resident biostatician. Dr. Pohlig received his PhD in research methodology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. He provides biostatistical support using state-of-the-art data analysis procedures to analyze research data. He assists investigators in preparing the data analysis sections for scientific publications. In the case of pilot projects, Ryan also provides design support for investigators as they refine their study questions and hypotheses. He also works with investigators to determine and verify appropriate sample size estimations for research projects to ensure high quality scientific work.
Dr. Pohlig will play a key role in integrating the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB) infrastructure in the Delaware Accel Center for Translational Research (DEAC-CTR) Data Mart. This will include alteration of the bioinformatics data analysis pipelines, user portals and their underlying databases to accommodate the increased scale and needs of the biomedical research community that the DEAC-CTR will serve.
Dr. Liyun Wang is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware. She received a BS in mechanical engineering an MS in biomedical engineering from the University of Science and Technology of China (Hefei) a PhD in mechanical/biomedical engineering from the City University of New York. She conducted postdoctoral research in orthopedics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine before joining the University of Delaware in 2005. She is the recipient of the Alice L Jee Young Investigator Award (2007). Dr. Wang's research interests are bone and cartilage biomechanics, bioimaging, and mathematical modeling. She is interested in how mechanical loading influences cell and tissue functions and responses. The ultimate goals of her studies on load-induced solute transport around bone cells and cross-talk between bone and cartilage in the joint are i) to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying osteoporosis and osteoarthritis; and ii) to develop more effective treatments.
Dr. Wang is the director of the COBRE III Cytomechanics Core. The central goal of the Core is to support the University of Delaware’s concerted multi-disciplinary focus on the study of osteoarthritis. The Cytomechanics Core offers the unique ability to combine imaging and mechanical manipulation to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cartilage degradation, repair, and cell function.
Dr. Randall Duncan is the chairperson of Biological Sciences department at the University of Delaware. He received his BS in biology and chemistry from Southwestern College in Winfield, KS, then earned his MS-PhD in physiology from Oklahoma State University and did his post-doctoral research work in electrophysiology at the Medical College of Virginia.
Dr. Duncan’s role is to continue to act in an advisory capacity on the Internal Advisory Board and as a mentor for young investigators. Dr. Duncan has been involved in basic rehabilitation research for over two decades and has collaborated extensively with colleagues at the University of Delaware to increase basic and translational research in this area. He is a founding member of the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute (DRI) and believes that the administration of the COBRE III award will be served well by the DRI.
Dr. Stuart A. Binder-Macleod is the Edward L. Ratledge Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware, associate vice provost for Clinical and Translational Research, a member of DRI’s steering committee as well as part of the Internal Advisory Committee for our COBRE III award.
His research interest include the effects of electrical stimulation parameters on muscle performance and he works with both human and animal research models.
A $25 million grant named Delaware – CTR ACCEL program, awarded in September 2013, will support the growth of clinical and translational research over the next five years and will be led by Dr. Binder-Macleod. For more information on this generous award, please visit ACCEL.