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Team

Fabrisia Ambrosio, PhD, MPT

Principal Investigator; Co-Director of the Mechanotransductive Methods Core, and Pittsburgh Site Lead

Fabrisia Ambrosio

Dr. Ambrosio is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Physical Therapy, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics. In addition, she is a faculty member in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Ambrosio completed a Master of Science in Physiology-Endocrinology at Laval University. She then went on to complete a Master of Physical Therapy at Hahnemann University (Drexel University). In 2005, Dr. Ambrosio completed a PhD in Rehabilitation Science & Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Ambrosio's research focuses on developing Regenerative Rehabilitation approaches to improve skeletal muscle healing and functional recovery. Her laboratory uses murine and human models to investigate the underlying mechanisms by which targeted and specific mechanotransductive signals can be used to enhance donor and/or host stem cell function.



Thomas A. Rando, MD, PhD

Principal Investigator; Co-Director of the Cellular Therapies/Tissue Engineering Core, and Stanford Site Lead

Thomas A. Rando

Dr. Rando is a Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. He is Chief of the Neurology Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, director of the Rehabilitation R&D program, and PI on the Innovative Rehabilitative Strategies for Muscle Dysfunction VA Research Enhancement Awards Program (REAP). He is an adjunct faculty member in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Rando received a Bachelor of Arts, MD and a PhD from Harvard University. He completed his residency in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he served as Chief Resident. From 1991-1994, he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at Stanford University.

Dr. Rando’s research has focused on the structure and function of skeletal muscle with particular emphasis on stem cell biology and regenerative potential of muscle tissue in the setting of aging, injury, and disease. His laboratory has more recently expanded into the area of tissue engineering, with an emphasis on Regenerative Rehabilitation, exploring the effects of exercise and physical activity on muscle regenerative and reparative functions. Dr. Rando has been recognized as leader in scientific fields ranging from the biology of aging, to stem cell biology, to muscular dystrophy. For his seminal work on systemic aging, he received the prestigious NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2005, and he recently was the recipient of a Transformative Research Award from the NIH for studies of the mechanisms of enhancement of cognition by physical activity such as exercise. He has received numerous awards, including a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholar in Aging, a Senior Scholar Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation, and a “Breakthroughs in Gerontology” Award from the American Federation for Aging Research.



Michael Boninger, MD

Co-Investigator; Co-Director of the Rehabilitation and Mechanosensitive Biomarkers Core

Michael Boninger

Dr. Michael Boninger is a Professor and UPMC Endowed Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine. He has joint appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Rehabilitation Science and Technology and the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He is Senior Medical Director for Post-Acute Care for the Health Services Division of UPMC. He is also a physician researcher for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Boninger has an extensive publication record of over 220 papers. His central research focus is on enabling increased function and participation for individuals with disabilities through development and application of assistive, rehabilitative and regenerative technologies. Dr. Boninger also has extensive experience and publications related to training researchers. His students have won over 50 national awards. Dr. Boninger holds 4 United States patents and has received numerous honors, including being inducted into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.



Linda Noble-Haeusslein, PhD

Co-Investigator; Co-Director of the Mechanotransductive Methods Core, UT Austin Site Lead

Linda Noble-Hausslein

Dr. Noble-Haeusslein is a tenured, full professor in the Departments of Psychology and Neurology, the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. She graduated from the University of Utah and the University of Nevada with a B.S. in Physical Therapy and completed her PhD in Anatomy at the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr. Noble-Haeusslein is a member of CARE (Clinically Applied Rehabilitation Engineering), a multidisciplinary organization at UT Austin that supports collaborations across the disciplines of engineering, rehabilitation, and neuroscience. She is actively involved in the Society for Neurotrauma, serving as a counselor, and the Society for Neuroscience.

Dr. Noble-Haeusslein is a regular member and chair of the NIH NSDA study section and has co-authored 3 reports by the Institute of Medicine that addressed nutrition and long-term consequences of traumatic brain injuries. Her research relies on preclinical models of neurotrauma and cellular, molecular, and behavioral tools to map those key pathogenic mechanisms, emerging acutely post injury, that are determinants of long-term recovery. This multifaceted approach has led to the discovery of new pharmacologic and stem-cell based therapeutics that ameliorate locomotor and bladder dysfunction and central neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury as well as improved cognition after traumatic injury to the developing brain.



Carmen Terzic, MD, PhD

Co-Investigator; Co-Director of the Cellular Therapeutics/Tissue Engineering Core, Mayo Clinic Site Lead

Carmen Terzic

Dr. Terzic is Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and serves as Associate Medical Director for Cardiovascular Rehabilitation at Mayo. Dr. Terzic is also an adjunct professor at Arizona State University in the School of Biological and Health and Systems Engineering. Dr. Terzic attended the University Centro Occidental Lisandro Alvarado, where she earned her M.D. degree. She completed residency training at University Hospital in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, and a graduate fellowship with Inter-American Bank of Development and Venezuelan National Council of Research, Science and Technology. Transferring to Mayo Clinic, she earned her Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology at Mayo Graduate School, and then completed her M.Sci. degree in physiology and biophysics at Venezuelan National Institute for Research. Dr. Terzic also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Mayo’s Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, in addition to completing both an internship at Mayo’s Department of Internal Medicine and a residency in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

As a physician, Dr. Terzic specializes in cardiovascular rehabilitation and neuromuscular rehabilitation. As a scientist, her research is focused on developing regenerative medicine and stem cell-based cardiac repair and optimizes their properties for cardiac commitment, as well as studying the role of nuclear transport during stem cell differentiation into cardiomyocytes. These efforts include developing techniques by which direct injection of stem cells in a murine model of cardiac infarction may lead to the engraftment and repopulation of the diseased heart with cardiac cells derived from the stem cells.



Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD

Co-Investigator; Co-Director of the Rehabilitation and Mechanosensitive Biomarkers Core

Gwendolyn Sowa

Dr. Sowa is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh where she also serves as Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine research. She holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering. She completed her PhD in Biochemistry and her MD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Using her background in biochemistry, she completed K12 fellowship training under Dr. Sudha Agarwal in the Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory at The Ohio State University, gaining relevant experience in cell mechanobiology.

The ultimate goal of Dr. Sowa’s research program is to apply the knowledge from in vitro and animal models to inform biochemical analyses of biofluids from patients to improve treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, and to utilize basic science knowledge to facilitate rational and individualized regenerative rehabilitation treatments of individuals to facilitate more effective and efficient care.



Laura Miller, PhD

Program Manager

Laura Miller

Dr. Miller is the Program Manager for AR3T. She graduated with a PhD in medical neurobiology from Indiana University School of Medicine and completed postdoctoral training in the field of behavioral neuroscience at Baylor University. Dr. Miller has specialized training in project management, supervision, and teaching. Prior to joining AR3T, Dr. Miller managed a research core facility focused on rodent behavior analysis. In this capacity, she wrote research protocols and trained investigators on behavioral testing paradigms ranging from cognitive to strength and motor coordination testing. She also has over twenty years of experience promoting pre-K-16 science, technology, engineering and math through outreach ranging from local to the national level. More recently, Dr. Miller decided to pursue a position in research administration in order to follow her passion of facilitating research opportunities for young investigators.

As Program Manager for AR3T, Dr. Miller provides program support, helps with relationship building, and is establishing mechanisms to promote Regenerative Rehabilitation within the global community. She oversees the administrative aspects; supports social media, website, and outreach efforts; and manages the implementation of AR3T’s research opportunities and programs.