New doctorate in rehabilitation science

Washington University in St. Louis will offer a doctoral program in rehabilitation and participation science beginning in fall 2011 designed to meet the growing demand for medical scientists in the rehabilitation field.

The Rehabilitation and Participation Science (RAPS) degree program is offered through the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and administered through the Program in Occupational Therapy at the School of Medicine.

“This unique program is aimed to train scientists within the areas of occupational science, neuroscience, environmental science and engineering to provide a scientific basis to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions and to increase their ability to participate in family, work and community life,” says Carolyn Baum, PhD, the Elias Michael Director of the Program in Occupational Therapy and professor of occupational therapy and of neurology.


Baum adds that the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth of 40 percent for medical scientists between 2008-2018.

RAPS is an interdisciplinary program that will prepare students for rehabilitation research and to pursue a career as a clinician and researcher. It offers training in one of three core areas:

  • Neurorehabilitation, which focuses on biomedical, cognitive, behavioral and environmental strategies that aid in recovery and management of neurological deficit in people with acute and chronic conditions;
  • Performance, which focuses on purposeful actions and activities of people with acute and chronic disorders, how body function and structure affect actions and activities, and how the actions and activities affect participation in daily life; and
  • Community participation, which focuses on person-environment interactions and examines the physical, socio-cultural and policy aspects of the environment that impact participation of persons with or at risk for chronic illness or disability.

Senior biomedical, clinical and population health scientists at the School of Medicine and Danforth Campuses will serve as mentors to students with the aim of generating knowledge that will improve the human condition of a person with a disability, chronic illness and/or developmental disabilities.

The program is designed for, but not limited to, those with a degree relevant to rehabilitation and participation science, including occupational therapy, medicine, physical therapy, anthropology, engineering, public health, social work and speech language pathology. Two students will be accepted for 2011 and 2012, and four students will be accepted thereafter.

Applications are due Jan. 31, 2011.

For more information, go to To apply, go to