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Meet the Researchers

Dr. Gerard Francisco


Dr. Gerard Francisco is Professor (with tenure) and Chairman of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at UTHealth McGovern Medical School. He is also the Chief Medical Officer and founding Director of the NeuroRecovery Research Center at TIRR Memorial Hermann. His research projects encompass a wide range of areas within motor recovery in persons with stroke, brain, and spinal cord injuries, including wearable exoskeletons, neuromodulation and neural interfaces, and robot-assisted rehabilitation. In addition he conducts therapeutic trials in spasticity management using botulinum toxins and intrathecal baclofen. As a national leader in PM&R he actively leads international and national associations, such as the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (inaugural editor-in-chief of the Journal of ISPRM) and the American Board of PM&R (director). Recent leadership positions include the Accreditation Commission for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Review Committee for PM&R (chair) and the Association of Academic Physiatrists (president) . He has been honored with the Sidney Licht Lecture Award by the ISPRM and Distinguished Member, and DistinguishedTeaching Professor by the University of Texas Systems.

Dr. Ping Zhou

Dr. Ping Zhou received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering and the M.S. degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China, and the Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA. From 1999 to 2014, he was progressively a Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Assistant Professor, and Research Associate Professor at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA. He currently is a Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), TX, USA. He directs the NeuroMyo Engineering for Rehabilitation laboratory of TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center, Houston, TX, USA. His research interests include biomedical signal (in particular, EMG) processing, motor unit pathophysiology, electrodiagnosis, myoelectric control, and assistive devices for neurorehabilitation.

Dr. Marcia O'Malley

O'Malley Marcia

Dr. Marcia O'Malley is Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Rice University, where she directs the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab. She currently also serves as Special Advisor to the Provost on Health Related Research and Educational Initiatives. She holds joint appointments in the departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at both Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Additionally, she is the Director of Rehabilitation Engineering at TIRR and co-founder of Houston Medical Robotics, Inc. Her research interests focus on the issues that arise when humans physically interact with robotic systems. One thrust of her lab is the design of haptic feedback and shared control between robotic devices and their human users for training and rehabilitation in virtual environments. Psychophysical studies provide insight into the effect of haptic cues on human motor adaptation, skill acquisition, and the restoration of motor coordination. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and currently serves on the editorial boards of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and the ACM Journal of Human Robot Interactions.

Dr. Sheng Li

Dr Sheng Li Sheng Li, MD, PhD is Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School. Dr Li received his medical degree from Beijing Medical University, Beijing, China. He obtained his PhD degree in Kinesiology from The Pennsylvania State University, and subsequently completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in Neurorehabilitation at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago with a focus on spasticity management and stroke rehabilitation. He was an Assistant Professor in the school of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana from 2004 to 2008. Dr. Li joined the McGovern Medical School PMR department as an Associate Professor in July 2013 after he completed his PMR residency training on a Clinical Investigator Pathway.

Dr Li’s primary clinical focus is spasticity management and neurorehabilitation after neurological impairments, mainly stroke and traumatic brain injury. Dr. Li is the Director of Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory at TIRR Memorial Hermann Research Center. His main research focus is sensory and motor recovery after neurological impairments, including pathophysiology and management of spasticity, motor control and motor recovery after stroke, and neuropathic pain. He has invented a technique – breathing-controlled electrical stimulation (BreEStim, as a non-pharmacological intervention for management of spasticity and neuropathic pain. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles on these topics. His research has been continuously supported by federal grants (NIDILRR, NIH, including an NIH R01 grant), foundation grants (Mission Connect, a program of TIRR Foundation) and industrial research grants. Dr. Li have served as a regular member of the Motor Function, Speech and Rehabilitation (MFSR) study section at the NIH (2011-2015). Dr. Li is currently an Associate Editor with Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and a guest Editor with Frontiers in Neurology and Neural Plasticity. Dr. Li is the 2017 recipient of prestigious Early Career Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP).

Dr Li is a member of Association of Academic Physiatrists, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Society for Neuroscience.

Dr. Shuo-Hsiu (James) Chang

Chang James Dr. Shuo-Hsiu Chang is Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Administrative Director of NeuroRecovery Research Center and Scientist at TIRR Memorial Hermann. Dr. Chang is a physical therapist from Taiwan and received MS and PhD in Human Movement Science, with specialty in motor control and learning, from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received Fellowship in Geriatric Research Award from Section on Geriatrics, American Physical Therapy Association in 2005 for his significant contribution in geriatric research. During his postdoc training in University of Iowa, his research focused in neuromuscular plasticity and neurophysiology.

As a human movement specialist, his research focus centers in mechanism of motor recovery with emphasis on effects of neuromuscular modulation, and clinical application of rehabilitation robotic devices in gait rehabilitation, mobility and community integration. He is particularly interested in the developing effective intervention that can exercise paralyzed or weak muscles and facilitate plasticity in neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems in patients with neurological disability. He received funds to investigate the effects of peripheral stimulation on spinal and cortical excitability and identify biomarker that may modulate the excitability following neurological injury and the effects of lower limb exoskeleton locomotion training on gait in patients with neurological injury.

Dr. Nuray Yozbatiran

Dr. Nuray Yozbatiran is Assistant Professor for Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr.Yozbatiran has received her Ph.D degree from Dokuz Eylul University School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation in Izmir, Turkey. She was a postdoctoral fellow in Department of Neurology at University of California, Irvine and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in McGovern Medical School. She has been involved in clinical studies emphasizing recovery of upper-limb functions after stroke and spinal cord injury, by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT), robotic exoskeletons and used functional MRI to study mechanism of recovery (Mentor: Steven Cramer, MD at UCI). Dr.Yozbatiran is since 2009 a McGovernMed faculty. She is primarily interested in development and optimization of treatment protocols for rehabilitation of upper-limb movements in persons with stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. Treatment modalities vary between non-invasive brain stimulation devices such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), robotic exoskeletons and exercises. Secondarily she is interested in underlying mechanism of neurorecovery, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional MRI techniques.

Dr. Argyrios Stampas

My fellowship in SCI allowed me to incorporate electric stimulation in the outpatient rehabilitation of SCI. I have been able to take that education with me and use it in the inpatient rehabilitation setting. Now as a clinical researcher, I want to advance the field of acute rehabilitation using electric stimulation in the acute period to prevent problems commonly found in chronic spinal cord injury, including neurogenic bladder, autonomic dysreflexia, and spasticity.

Dr. Xiaoyan Li

Dr. Li received her B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Anhui University, and M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from University of Science and Technology of China, both in Hefei, China. She obtained her second M.S. degree in Computer Sciences from Loyola University Chicago, and her Ph.D. degree in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Later she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Neural Computation of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), CA, and in the Sensory Motor Performance Program of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, IL. She was a research assistant professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, prior to her joining the PM&R department of McGovern Medical School as assistant professor in 2014.

Dr. Angelle M. Sander

Dr. Sander is an associate professor with tenure in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and director of the division of Clinical Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Psychology at Baylor College of Medicine. She is co-project director for the Texas Traumatic Brain Injury Model System of TIRR for which she leads a multisite collaborative project on health literacy and its impact on health outcomes following TBI. She is also site PI for a project on developing a quality of life measure for caregivers of persons with TBI and on a study examining the relationship between negative attributions and anger and aggression following TBI.

Dr. Sander’s history of federal grant funding began in 1997. Her areas of expertise include caregiver assessment and interventions, cognitive and psychosocial interventions, community integration of persons with TBI, intimacy and sexuality after TBI, assessing and treating substance abuse in persons with TBI, and ethnic diversity in outcomes. She has more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and numerous book chapters and published abstracts.

Dr. Mark Sherer

Dr. Mark Sherer is a board-certified neuropsychologist with more than 30 years of experience as a clinician, administrator and educator in brain injury rehabilitation. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Neuropsychology and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Dr. Sherer has served as principal investigator for grants on TBI recovery, impaired self-awareness, telephone counseling for persons with TBI, TBI community integration and rehabilitation of brain tumor patients, and has published more than 150 articles and book chapters and made numerous presentations at state, national and international conferences.

He is the recipient of Robert L. Moody Prize for Distinguished Initiatives in Brain Injury Research and Rehabilitation, awarded by The University of Texas Medical Branch School of Health Professions and the Transitional Learning Center of Galveston; the Mitchell Rosenthal Award for Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems National Database Research, awarded by the TBI Model Systems Program; the Leonard Diller Award for Scholarly Contributions to Neurorehabilitation, awarded by the American Psychological Association Division of Rehabilitation Psychology; the Williams Fields Caveness Award for National and International Contributions to Bettering the Lives of People Who Have Sustained Brain Injury, awarded by the Brain Injury Association of America; and the Harold E. Yuker Award for Research Excellence, awarded by the journal Rehabilitation Psychology and the Rehabilitation Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association.