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Research News

02/07/20 P. Hunter Peckham, PhD, receives Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Neuromodulation Society

Hunter PeckhamP. Hunter Peckham, PhD, Co-Director of the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute and Research Faculty in the Departments of Orthopedics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), received the Lifetime Achievement Award at Annual Meeting of the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) in Las Vegas, NV. The NANS Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made significant and lasting contributions to the field of neuromodulation over the course of their career.

Dr. Peckham is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and Fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Peckham is Distinguished University Professor, Donnell Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Orthopedics and PM&R at Case Western Reserve University.

01/16/20 Dr. Vrabec awarded $2.3 million NIH grant to study control of cardiac arrhythmias

Tina Vrabec, PhDTina Vrabec, PhD, research faculty in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) and the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute, in collaboration with the UCLA Neurocardiology Center for Excellence, was awarded a 5-year, $2.3 million NIH grant entitled, “Investigation of Partial Electrical Nerve Block for Autonomic Regulation.” 

More than 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. Sudden cardiac death often occurs as a result of ventricular tachyarrhythmias (VT) in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and/or heart failure (HF). Conventional treatments lack efficacy in certain populations of patients and are accompanied by off-target side effects. Partial electrical nerve block, originally developed to block pain signals in chronic pain patients and unintentional muscle activation among neurologically impaired patients, is proposed to provide control of cardiac function that is targeted, rapid, reversible, and gradable. The addition of a biosensor to measure regional cardiac neurotransmitters is designed to generate feedback for the system to provide a customizable, adaptable, patient-specific intervention for cardiac dysfunction. The evaluation of this approach could lead to interventions that automatically adapt to a patient’s disease state over time.

Dr. Vrabec is Assistant Professor of PM&R at the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine (SOM). Co-investigators and CWRU faculty based at The MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute include Kevin Kilgore, PhD, Professor of Orthopedics, PM&R and Biomedical Engineering, and Niloy Bhadra, PhD, Associate Professor of PM&R. Other collaborators include Corey Smith, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the CWRU SOM and Jeff Ardell PhD, Professor of Medicine and Anesthesiology at UCLA and Director of the UCLA Neurocardiology Center for Excellence.

12/09/19 Rep. Crossman Tours MetroHealth, Meets with Rehab Institute Staff

Rehabilitation Tour, Kim Alexander, PhD Several members of the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute team had an opportunity Friday to showcase their work and our facilities to State Rep. Jeff Crossman, who represents Parma, Brooklyn Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, and part of southwest Cleveland.

John Chae, MD, Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R); P. Hunter Peckham, PhD, Co-Director of the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute and a staff scientist in Orthopedics and PM&R; Jayme Knutson, PhD, Director of Research for PM&R; and Kim Anderson, PhD, a staff scientist in PM&R, hosted the tour.

Rep. Crossman had an opportunity to learn about the research and work being done at the Rehabilitation Institute, especially in the areas of spinal cord injury, stroke therapies and technology to relieve chronic pain. The Institute focuses on restoring function, social participation and quality of life to persons with significant disabilities. The team’s approach is to deliver outstanding rehabilitation care, train the next generation of rehabilitation clinicians and scientists, and discover new knowledge that becomes part of our standard of care. Rep. Crossman also toured The Zubizarreta House, our fully accessible facility where out-of-town patients can stay when receiving these treatments at MetroHealth. The 7,000-square-foot, one-story house can house several patients and is located near the MetroHealth Old Brooklyn Medical Center.

11/22/19 Kavita Arora, MD, Appointed CWRU-MetroHealth Dierker-Biscotti Women’s Wellness Endowed Professor

Kavita S. Arora, MD, MBEWe are pleased to announce the appointment Dr. Kavita S. Arora to the CWRU-MetroHealth Dierker-Biscotti Women’s Wellness Endowed Professorship.

Dr. Arora completed Medical School at Jefferson Medical College and received a Master’s Degree in Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology with a secondary appointment in the Department of Bioethics, after completing her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in 2013. Since joining our faculty Dr. Arora has provided women’s health services to our patients at MetroHealth, and to active duty service members and veterans at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Arora’s research is focused on understanding and eradicating the disparities in access and autonomy afforded to vulnerable women regarding long-acting reversible contraception and permanent sterilization. She combines her expertise in theoretical bioethics, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, and understanding of health policy to further this mission. Funded through the NIH-CWRU KL2 scholars program, the CWRU Social Justice Institute, the Society for Family Planning, HRSA, and the NIH-funded CWRU Center for Genetics Research, Ethics and the Law, Dr Arora’s research has resulted in over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts in major national and international journals, including; The American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Arora has served on committees of key national organizations that have the potential to impact women’s health and bioethics, including; the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. She currently serves on the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Board of Directors. Locally, Dr. Arora serves as Director of Quality for the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at MetroHealth, and as unit leader for Reproductive Ethics in the Masters of Bioethics program at Case Western Reserve University. She is a recognized teacher and mentor, serving as faculty advisor and research mentor for numerous Case Western Reserve University Medical Students, ObGyn Residents, Master’s of Public Health and Bioethics candidates. Her excellence in teaching has been recognized every year between 2010 and 2018. In 2014, Dr. Arora was recognized with the CREOG National Faculty Award for Excellence in Resident Teaching.

As the Dierker-Biscotti Women’s Wellness Professor, Dr. Arora will continue to serve as a tribute to the lifelong contributions and efforts of Drs. LeRoy Dierker and Matthew Biscotti to improve women’s health and wellness.    

10/08/19 Dennis Bourbeau, PhD, Receives $735,000 Craig H. Neilson Award to Improve Bladder Function for Patients with Spinal Cord Injury

Dennis Bourbeau, PhDDennis Bourbeau, PhD, Staff Scientist in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), received a 3-yr, $735,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation entitled “Ambulatory closed-loop stimulation to inhibit neurogenic bladder overactivity”. 

Following spinal cord injury (SCI), most individuals develop neurogenic bladder characterized by overactivity, which can severely impair a person’s health and quality of life and is associated with high costs. Electrical stimulation of the genital nerves has been shown to inhibit overactive bladder to improve bladder capacity and urinary continence in men and women with SCI. The objective of this project is to evaluate the potential feasibility and effectiveness of automated closed-loop genital nerve stimulation to stop unwanted bladder contractions using a custom algorithm and a wireless, catheter-free bladder pressure sensor developed with collaborators. 

Dr. Bourbeau is Assistant Professor of PM&R at Case Western Reserve University.