We had workshops presented by experts in the field - Clinical Research for Regenerative Rehabilitation or Rehabilitation Strategies in Preclinical Models: An Overview of the Fundamentals.

Clinical Study Design for Regenerative Rehabilitation Researchers
The goal of this workshop is to address challenges and current opportunities specific to clinical trials in medical rehabilitation, including: trial design, issues in recruitment and retention, funding opportunities, and mobile technology integration into rehabilitation trials. We will also introduce investigators to additional clinical trial resources, including the REACT Center and the Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource (MR3) Network Coordinating Center.


Following an introductory lecture, workshop participants will divide into breakout sessions based on their experience level as investigators:

  • Junior
  • Mid-Career/Interim
  • Senior

Special travel awards are available for Symposium attendees who also register for this workshop. Please see Travel Awards for more information.

Intended Audience

Researchers at all levels of training/expertise who are interested in clinical trials are welcome to attend.


The sessions will be led by Dr. Marcas Bamman, Director of the National Rehabilitation Research Resource to Enhance Clinical Trials (REACT), along with Dr. Gary Cutter, Co-Director, REACT and professor of biostatistics in the Section on Research Methods and Clinical Trials in the Department of Biostatistics at the UAB School of Public Health; and Dr. Robert Motl, REACT Mobile Technology Lab Director, Associate Director for Rehabilitation Research at the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine, and professor in the UAB Department of Physical Therapy.


Marcas Bamman, PhD, FACSM:
Professor, Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology
Director, UAB Center for Exercise Medicine
Director, P2CHD086851 National Rehabilitation Research Resource to Enhance Clinical Trials (REACT)
Director, T32HD071866 Interdisciplinary Training in Pathobiology and Rehabilitation Medicine

Exercise profoundly impacts the integrity and function of every major organ system, and is therefore considered the only pluripotent form of medicine available. To maximize impact on disease progression, prevention (i.e. risk factor mitigation), and rehabilitation, the state-of-the-art in research is a focus on dose-response trials to provide the evidence base that yields optimal prescriptions in a disease-specific and population-specific manner. The UAB Center for Exercise Medicine is among the nation’s leaders in this effort, with significant emphasis on exercise as an effective form of regenerative medicine to restore the function of cells, tissues, and whole organ systems that have suffered the consequences of aging, disease, damage, or congenital defects. The Center is currently leading clinical and translational research in aging, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, head and neck cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis, HIV frailty, and post-surgical rehabilitation (i.e. following total joint replacement and organ transplantation).

Over the years Dr. Bamman has directed several exercise clinical trials including randomized dose-response trials focused on aging (e.g., NIH 5R01AG017896, NCT02442479), and he is currently the overall Principal Investigator (PI) or site PI of five, multi-site randomized exercise trials focused on: (i) molecular transducers of exercise-induced health benefits (NIH Common Fund MoTrPAC trial, U01AR071133); total joint arthroplasty rehabilitation (NIH R01HD084124, NCT02628795); (ii) aging with mobility impairment (NIH R01AG046920, NCT02308228); (iii) Parkinson’s disease (Curry Foundation); and (iv) epigenetic determinants of exercise responsiveness (Department of Defense MURI trial). All of his human studies are biologically driven – centered on cellular/ molecular analyses of biospecimens and primary stem cells coupled with thorough in vivo phenotyping in healthy (19 to 83 y/o) and diseased – to better understand mechanisms of exercise-induced improvements in neuromuscular function and muscle mass/quality in the face of atrophy and dysfunction in acute (e.g., surgery, trauma, disuse, burn) or chronic (e.g., Parkinson’s, arthritis, cancer, spinal cord injury) conditions. Dr. Bamman has served on >35 federal review panels and NIH study sections, including a 4-year term serving the NIH/CSR Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Physiology (SMEP) study section.

Rehabilitation Strategies in Preclinical Models: An Overview of the Fundamentals
Creating synergies through the integration of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation in preclinical models will result in research that can more successfully be translated into the clinic. The goal of this workshop is to overview preclinical research design using a rodent model, and to cover methods of rehabilitation and outcome measurements, in order to optimize your basic Regenerative Rehabilitation research.

Assuming the viewpoint of the benchtop researcher in this workshop, we will focus on those key elements of rehabilitation that are complimentary to regenerative medicine; namely, defined methods of exercise in rodent models and outcome measurements for evaluation. We will start out by discussing optimization of the experimental design, reducing bias and improving transparency when using rodents for behavioral research. We will then review the pros and cons of different rehabilitation methods such as wheel running and treadmill running. Two animal models of cutting-edge regenerative medicine research will be described in detail as examples- traumatic muscle injury (specifically volumetric muscle loss) and traumatic brain injury, although the rehabilitative methods and evaluation techniques for these models are useful across a broad range of preclinical models of regenerative medicine research. Lastly, we will review behavioral outcomes that are designed to measure motor/sensory function and cognition, as well as methods for assessing muscle strength, parameters that are sensitive to transplantation, endogenous stem cell behavior, and exercise.


  • Part 1: Overview of the experimental design
    • Optimizing the environment
    • Selection of species/strain
    • Age and gender
    • Scientific Rigor: Randomization, blinding
  • Part 2: Tools of the Trade: Common Rehabilitation methods in rodents
    • Voluntary running wheels
    • Forced running wheels
    • Treadmill
  • Part 3: Traumatic muscle injury (specifically, volumetric muscle loss)
    • Brief overview of the clinical problems
    • Brief overview of modeling these injuries
    • Alternative rehabilitation methods
    • Outcome Measurements
  • Part 4: Traumatic brain injuries
    • Brief overview of the clinical problems
    • Brief overview of modeling these injuries
    • Alternative rehabilitation methods
    • Outcomes
      • Assessment of anxiety, hyper- and hypo-activity
      • Motor/sensory tests
      • Cognitive tests
      • Electrophysiological assessments
  • Part 5: Small-group discussions
    • Participants will break up into smaller groups based on areas of interest for guided discussions with workshop leaders
Intended audience

Researchers at all levels of training/expertise who are interested in learning about rehabilitation and testing in rodent models of neural and/or muscular injury and disease.


Dr. Linda Noble-Haeusslein (UCSF and UT Austin Dell Medical School)
Her laboratory has incorporated measures of motor/sensory function and cognition into preclinical models of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury for well over 2 decades, with the objective of identifying targets that are early determinants of long-term recovery. This collective research has led to the development of a battery of behavioral tests that can be used to assess functionality following stem cell transplantation and/or other approaches aimed at supporting endogenous stem cells. As a former founder and co-director of the neurobehavioral core at UCSF, she is also familiar with rodent-based exercise interventions that incorporate defined activity to restore motor/sensory function and cognition.

Dr. Gordon Warren is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. He has conducted research on skeletal muscle injury and combined muscle-bone injury for 27 years. He has conducted this research using both humans and animals. In his animal research, he has implemented single fiber models as well as in vitro, in situ, and in vivo muscle models in the induction of muscle injury as well as in the assessment of the muscle’s functional capacities. He also has experience using modalities to increase or decrease muscle activity (e.g., treadmill running, use of running wheels, restricted cage activity) so as to examine its effect on muscle’s functional recovery from injury.

For more information about workshops, please contact ar3t@pitt.edu.