Research Training in Rehabilitation for Brain Injury and Neurological Disability

Principal Investigator: Michael Johnston

This is the first resubmission of an application for renewal of an Institutional National Research Service Award for a successful postdoctoral training program in medical rehabilitation research that focuses on brain injury and neurological disability. The PIs propose to train 4 postdoctoral level trainees per year, each for a total duration of 2-3 years. The training program is based in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and in the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. The Kennedy Krieger Institute is a major center for clinical care and research on neurological disabilities in children and young adults on the Johns Hopkins University medical campus. These programs complement the clinical and research programs of the Department of PM&R that serve adults at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Trainees have the opportunity to work with faculty advisors from the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Department of PM&R, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Departments of Neurology, Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

The goals of the program are to:

  1. train clinicians and basic scientists who will go on to make important contributions that advance the rehabilitation of patients with brain and spinal cord injuries and other neurological disabilities
  2. equip these trainees with the skills needed to become independent grant-funded investigators. The focus of the training program is on a mentored period of hypothesis-driven clinical and/or laboratory based research.

Faculty have expertise in one or more of six major rehabilitation themes: 

  1. brain-behavior relationships and rehabilitation for pediatric traumatic brain injury
  2. the continuum of care from intensive care to rehabilitation
  3.  physiology of swallowing and recovery from dysphagia
  4. brain plasticity and recovery of function
  5. spinal cord rehabilitation and regeneration
  6. epidemiology and rehabilitation outcomes.

A training program management committee provides specific goals for progress of trainees to achieve core research competencies, and it monitors progress closely. The program provides a strong curriculum of weekly conferences, journal clubs and didactic lectures that reflect the research and scholarly environment at Johns Hopkins. The program has produced more than 30 researchers and university faculty members who are active in rehabilitation research, and several who have high profile careers and hold two R01 grants. Six graduates who completed the program in the last three years are currently supported by NIH career development awards. This training program is directly related to improving treatment and reducing disability for millions of children and adults with disorders including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, autism, Parkinson's disease and numerous related disorders.