Cleveland, OH,
15:25 PM

MetroHealth and CWRU Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Ranks #1 in U.S. for National Institutes of Health Funding


CLEVELAND – The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at The MetroHealth System and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) ranks No. 1 in the nation in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding among PM&R departments in U.S. medical schools. The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research released the 2022 rankings based on data from the NIH.

The Department of PM&R at MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve is housed in the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute, which works to restore function, societal participation and quality of life for people with significant neurological and musculoskeletal impairments and functional limitations. Last year, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Institute #1 in Ohio and #24 in the nation among nearly 1,000 eligible rehabilitation hospitals. The Institute recently moved to a new, state-of-the-art clinical, research and education space at MetroHealth’s Old Brooklyn Health Center Campus.

The Institute was awarded $35 million in new grants in 2022, and currently has $83 million in extramural research funding (total value of active grants through the life of the grants, direct and indirect). These grants are vital to ensuring the continuation of innovative research, an essential part of advancing patient care.

“The mission of the Department of PM&R at MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve University always has been to improve the daily lives of people with severe neurological and musculoskeletal impairments, train the next generation of clinicians and scientists and actively engage the discovery and innovation process to push the field of rehabilitation forward,” said John Chae, MD, Vice President, Research and Sponsored Programs and Chair of PM&R at MetroHealth and Professor of PM&R and Biomedical Engineering at CWRU. “The fact that our researchers have received more funding in this area than those at any other institution in the nation is proof that NIH and other sponsors recognize the value of their extraordinary work in achieving that mission.”

The MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute is led by two members of the National Academies: MetroHealth’s Dr. Chae of the National Academy of Medicine; and P. Hunter Peckham, PhD, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at CWRU, of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute is world-renowned for the development and clinical implementation of sophisticated electrical stimulation systems that reanimate paralyzed muscles; restore limb, trunk, respiratory, bowel and bladder function; and facilitate neurological recovery following stroke, brain injury and spinal cord injury (SCI). More recent initiatives include interventions for the treatment of chronic pain and cardiac and pulmonary dysfunction in non-neurologically impaired populations.

"The Institute has had major growth over the past decade, with investments in new faculty and new space that has enabled us to establish our leadership role in clinical rehabilitation and rehabilitation research," Dr. Peckham said. "Our research focus is on paralytic disorders, such as spinal cord injury and stroke, and enabling individuals with these disorders to regain function and independence. MetroHealth provides an optimal environment for translating our discoveries into the clinic, ultimately enabling the growth of the medical device industry in Northeastern Ohio."

Research programs within the Institute are led by teams of biomedical, electrical and mechanical engineers, neuroscientists, neurosurgeons, nurses, occupational therapists, orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists and social scientists.

“Our community should be extremely proud of the world-class research taking place at MetroHealth and Case Western Reserve University,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE. “As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to lifting up research that will shape the future of medicine and improve peoples’ lives.”

Below are five key research grants received in 2022:

  • $12.5 million from NIH awarded to Kevin Kilgore, PhD, staff scientist in the MetroHealth Center for Rehabilitation Research (MCRR) and the Departments of Orthopedics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), for a three-year project to create the first open-source modular network of active implantable devices for use in pre-clinical and early feasibility human research and to provide ongoing support for this technology through a vibrant, sustainable community of users. Dr. Kilgore is Professor of Orthopedics and PM&R at the CWRU School of Medicine. Dr. Kilgore is the contact Principal Investigator (PI) on the project. Brian Smith, BSc (Hons), Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at CWRU, and Cindy Chestek, PhD, Department of BME at the University of Michigan, are Multi-PIs.
  • $9.5 million from NIH awarded to Anthony DiMarco, MD, Staff Scientist in MCRR and the Department of PM&R, for a five-year project to develop a system to restore effective cough in spinal cord injury patients. Dr. DiMarco is Professor of PM&R at CWRU.
  • $3.1 million from NIH awarded to Nathan Makowski, PhD, Staff Scientist MCRR and the Department of PM&R, for a five-year project to develop a system to restore the ability to walk after a stroke. Dr. Makowski is Assistant Professor of PM&R at CWRU.
  • $3.1 million from the DoD to Kim Anderson, PhD, and Robert Hoey, PhD, Staff Scientists in MCRR and the Department of PM&R, for a four-year research program to study a technique to restore bowel function in patients with spinal cord injuries. Dr. Anderson is Professor of PM&R and Dr. Hoey is Assistant Professor of PM&R at CWRU.
  • $200,000 from Craig Neilsen Foundation to Blake Perkins, DPT, ATP, clinical and research physical therapist at the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute, MCRR, and the Department of PM&R, for a two-year research program to study clinical and community-collaborative assistive technology provision in spinal cord injury.
About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit