The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
congratulates its faculty member Rory Cooper, PhD, and the staff of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) on their selection by the Department of Veterans Affairs as the VA Center of Excellence for Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering. As a Research Center of Excellence, HERL will receive 1 million dollars each year for a 5-year cycle of funding before having to submit an application for competitive renewal. This is the third time HERL has received this award.
Directed by Dr. Cooper, this Center for wheelchair technology focuses on the design, development, and evaluation of new technologies to improve the mobility of physically-impaired individuals. In its short history, HERL has become an important contributor in the fields of wheelchair design, seating systems, transportation systems, and novel approaches to the delivery of assistive technology.
VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service (RR&D) Centers focus on research in high-priority areas relevant to the rehabilitation needs of Veterans, providing cutting-edge solutions to the issues of chronic impairment. VA RR&D Centers serve as a resource primarily for Veterans but also for the rehabilitation community at large. These Centers are expected to:
- Successfully leverage core support funding through nationally competed and scientifically reviewed funding vehicles;
- Mentor and support young investigators, both clinician and non-clinician scientists, through pre- and post-doctoral programs, and recruit them into VA;
- Nurture strong interactive relationships with clinical service providers engaged in rehabilitation, long-term management of impairment, and overall quality of life issues;
- Facilitate effective information dissemination for a broad spectrum of audiences; and
- Foster the integration of research findings into clinical practice.
HERL is currently located at the Highland Drive Division of VAPHS and is closely affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center along with other public and private organizations. Since 1994, HERL has sought solutions to problems that exist for Veterans and individuals who use wheelchairs and other forms of assistive technology, such as prosthetics, walkers, etc. Today, the program includes 9 laboratories staffed by more than 50 individuals—including an expert team of bioengineers, exercise physiologists, roboticists, epidemiologists, rehabilitation counselors, and physical and occupational therapists—who are all enthusiastic about helping Veterans with disabilities. The laboratories occupy more than 15,000 square feet with the latest state-of-the-art research instruments and machines.
Illustration: Human Engineering Research Laboratories, University of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Business Times (07/01/09)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (07/09/09)
Human Engineering Research Laboratories
Human Engineering Research Laboratories video
Human Engineering Research Laboratories, VA.gov
Bio: Dr. Rory Cooper