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Health Professions E-NEWS

Vicki Freeman

A Message from Dean Protas

I write to announce the transition of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences to the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition in the School of Health Professions (SHP). The Center for Rehabilitation Sciences, established in 2001, is currently directed by Dr. Kenneth J. Ottenbacher and administered through the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences. The Center includes 34 core faculty representing various schools, departments, centers and institutes across UTMB.

The Center has contributed to building a research infrastructure associated with disability, recovery and rehabilitation over the past decade and works collaboratively with the Sealy Center on Aging and the Departments of Internal Medicine, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Surgery, among others. The Center also collaborates with the Transitional Learning Center (TLC) in Galveston and co-sponsors the annual Galveston Brain Injury Conference. The success of the Center's research programs is reflected in the SHP's current ranking as 8th in NIH funding among similar U.S. schools as reported by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

Two factors are responsible for the transition - the completion of the SHP Research Strategic Plan and the establishment of the Department of Nutrition and Metabolism. The SHP research strategic planning process began in October 2012 and was a goal for the School of Health Professions FY 2013 Score Card. The Research Strategic Plan involved input from the Center's core faculty, other faculty within and outside the SHP, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and the SHP External Advisory Board.

The Department of Nutrition and Metabolism was established in 2012. Under the leadership of the chair, Dr. Blake Rasmussen, the Department received initial accreditation from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics in April 2013. Current research in the department examines mechanisms associated with nutrient muscle function including protein synthesis, muscle metabolism, cell signaling, the role of essential amino acids and exercise associated with muscle growth and regeneration. The department also offers a Master of Science degree in Nutrition & Metabolism that is combined with a dietetic internship for those students planning on becoming registered dietitians.

The Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition will build on the infrastructure and funding established during the past decade. The Center will expand and integrate research on physical activity, exercise, function, and nutrition designed to provide new opportunities for research, grant funding, education and scientific training consistent with the mission and priorities of the SHP and UTMB.

We are finalizing activities associated with the transition including renovation of research space and development of facilities for clinical investigations. This space will include labs for performing clinical trials associated with rehabilitation, physical activity and nutrition and for physiological and functional outcome measurements. The Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition research space will also become a satellite Clinical Research Center of the UTMB Institute of Translational Science's CTSA and collaborate with Centers and Departments on campus and will be available to all investigators at UTMB.

We are planning a research symposium for early 2014 to introduce the facilities and activities of the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition. Watch for future announcements.

Elizabeth J. Protas, PT, PhD, FACSM, FAPTA
Vice President and Dean, School of Health Professions
George T. Bryan Distinguished Professor
Senior Fellow, Sealy Center on Aging