Grant establishes interdisciplinary training program for physical, occupational therapists

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a five-year, $4.6 million grant to establish an interdisciplinary career development training program for physical and occupational therapists.

The grant is from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

It is one of only two grants under the National Institutes of Health’s K12 grant program awarded for physical and occupational therapists.

The Washington University School of Medicine project, called Comprehensive Opportunities for Rehabilitation Research Training (CORRT), will fund 15-20 postdoctoral scholars over the five-year period and allow them to train at one of seven institutions: Washington University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Delaware, Johns Hopkins University, Emory University, University of Miami and University of Iowa.

Michael J. Mueller, Ph.D., associate professor of physical therapy, who will lead the program, said this grant uniquely provides an interdisciplinary approach to bring other sciences into the field of physical rehabilitation.

“There is a tremendous array of more than 60 mentors and laboratories where the scholars can do clinical research to improve the lives of people with chronic physical disabilities,” Mueller said.

Each scholar will work with at least two mentors: one a physical therapist or occupational therapist and another from a different discipline. Twenty Washington University faculty members from diverse research areas have agreed to serve as mentors for the scholars in the CORRT project.

M. Carolyn Baum, Ph.D., the Elias Michael Director and professor of occupational therapy at the School of Medicine, is on the executive committee representing occupational therapy for the CORRT program and will serve on the admissions committee.

Applications will be accepted starting later this month for training to begin Jan. 1.

“It’s exciting to think about the different research collaborations that will develop from this program in the coming years,” Mueller said.

Washington University School of Medicine’s full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.