Amy Pastva, PT, PhD

Dr. Amy Pastva

Assistant Professor

Phone: 919-681-3595

Office: Wing B, #216


Dr. Pastva is a clinical scientist, a basic scientist, an educator and a mentor in the DPT Program. In addition to primary faculty appointment in the DPT Division, she holds secondary appointments in the Department of Cell Biology and Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine. She is also a Senior Fellow in the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development and a Duke Pepper Older American Independence Center (OAIC) Scholar. With expertise in physical rehabilitation, exercise physiology, and cellular and molecular physiology, she understands bodily processes at the functional level, organ physiological level, and cellular and molecular level; this skill set is vital to leading or collaborating on projects that involve physical activity and exercise interventions and incorporate measures of physical reserve, especially for medically complex and/or older adults, and for translating relationships among biophysiological data and functional performance outcomes. Dr. Pastva is also interested in the use of simulation and team based learning principles in physical therapy and interprofessional curricula.


  • 1991 B.S. Physical Therapy, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA
  • 1994 M.A. Applied Physiology, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • 1998-2000 Doctoral Student, Applied Physiology Teachers College, Columbia University
  • 2004 Ph.D. Program, Cellular and Molecular Physiology, University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB)
  • 2004-2006 Post-doctoral Fellowship, Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Durham, NC


  • PT 623 Cardiopulmonary Patient Management, Summer Semester, Course Director and Instructor
  • PT 724 Evidence-Based Practice Capstone, Instructor


  • Expertise in management of patients with disorders of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.
  • Steering Committee and Mentor, DUHS Cardiovascular and Pulmonary PT Residency Program.


Dr. Pastva's scholarly pursuits cross three areas of investigation:

  1. Basic Science. Dr. Pastva studies the immune regulatory properties of pulmonary surfactant, a lipoprotein complex produced by alveolar epithelial cells and clara cells in the lungs that regulates immune host defense. She also studies the mechanisms by which aging and chronic diseases affect immune system and skeletal muscle function.
  2. Clinical Science. She bridges her expertise in physical therapy and physiology to investigate rehabilitation strategies for optimizing the health and function of individuals living with chronic cardiopulmonary diseases and/or surviving critical illness. In these experiments, Dr. Pastva is investigating novel therapeutic techniques that can be implemented either early in hospitalization or after hospitalization to mitigate the physical and cognitive impairments that can accompany acute or acute on chronic illness.
  3. Education. She explores pedagogical strategies such as team-based learning and low-and high-fidelity simulation in health professions curricula to address clinical practice expectations in aging and acute illness. 

She has participated as a clinician-scientist at the principle investigator and co-investigator levels on university-, foundation-, and NIH-funded projects where she developed or assisted in the development of the innovative rehabilitative strategies for medically complex patients aimed at improving patient-centered outcomes of physical function, quality of life, and healthcare utilization. She regularly presents her research findings at inter/national conferences of societies such as the American Physical Therapy Association and American Thoracic Society. She serves on the American Physical Therapy Association’s ICU Rehabilitation Clinical Guideline Development Group and on the Research Committee of its Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section.

Recent publications

Awards and honors

  • 2008 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease's K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award
  • 2009 Scholarship to present at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society
  • 2011 Selected Participant, Course in Scientific Leadership and Management, Sponsored by Dean Nancy Andrews, Duke University School of Medicine
  • 2011 Scholarship to attend the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Annual Meeting
  • 2011 Claude D. Pepper Scholar Award in Aging Research, Duke University Pepper Center
  • 2013 Appointed Senior Fellow, Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development
  • 2014 Appointed, Clinical Practice Guideline Development Group – Physical therapy management of critically ill patients in the ICU, American Physical Therapy Association, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section
  • 2014   American Thoracic Society Foundation Unrestricted Grant award recipient
  • 2015   Best Platform Presentation, APTA Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, Combined Sections Meeting
  • 2015   Best Student Presentation, APTA Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, Combined Sections Meeting (awarded to her mentees)
  • 2015   Best Student Presentation, Duke DPT Capstone Day (awarded to her mentees)
  • 2015   Research Podium Award, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association

Selected Grants


Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center                                                      

  • Awarded by:  National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Aging (2016-2021)
  • Goal:  Understand and optimize physiologic reserve and physical resilience in older adults.
  • Role:  Co-Investigator/Physical Measures Core

Early supported discharge for improving functional outcomes after stroke

  • Awarded by:  Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (2015-2020)
  • Goal: Pragmatic randomized clinical trial of state-wide North Carolina hospitals to compare whether Comprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services (COMPASS), which combines transitional care and early supported discharge for stroke patients who go home directly from the hospital, improves patients’ daily function compared with usual care.
  • Role:  Co-Investigator/Intervention Coordinator

REHAB-HF:  A Trial of Rehabilitation Therapy in Older Acute Heart Failure Patients                   

  • Awarded by:  National Institute of Health, National Institute for Aging (2014-2019)
  • Goal:  Multicenter randomized clinical trial (Wake Forest, Duke, Thomas Jefferson) to test whether, in addition to standard care, a progressive, multi-domain rehabilitation intervention administered to elders with acute decompensated heart failure beginning early in hospitalization and continuing for 3 months will improve functional and utilization outcomes.
  • Role:  Co-Investigator/Intervention Coordinator

ERiCC:  Early Rehabilitation in Critical Care

  • Awarded by:  American Thoracic Society and National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia (2014-2015, 2016-2017)
  • Goal:  Multi-site randomized clinical trial (University of Melbourne/Austin Health, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Royal Brisbane) to determine whether functional electrical stimulation-assisted cycling will improve physical and neurocognitive outcomes compared to usual care in those who are critically ill.
  • Role:  Duke Site Principle Investigator                                                                                                                                   

Physical therapist management of critically ill patients in intensive care

  • Awarded by:  American Physical Therapy Association (2015-2018)
  • Goal:  Develop the clinical practice guidelines for the physical therapist management of critically ill patients in the intensive care setting.
  • Role:  Core Development Group


Impact of age on outcomes associated with early mobilization in medical intensive care

  • Awarded by: Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association Foundation (2014-2016)
  • Goal:  Retrospective trial to assess the impact of age on clinical and functional outcomes in patients who were critically ill in the medical intensive care unit and who participated in an early mobility program.
  • Role:  Co-Principle Investigator (with V.Sabol)

Skeletal muscle mass and strength trajectories in older patients hospitalized with medical illness  

  • Awarded by:  Duke Claude D. Pepper OAIC (2014-2015)         
  • Goal:  Pilot project to explore the relationship between level of physical activity and changes in lean body mass and strength over the course of hospitalization in older adults with medical illness.
  • Role:  Co-Investigator

The in vivo role of surfactant protein A in allergen-mediated lung disease.

  • Awarded by: National Institute of Health, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (2008-2012)
  • Goal: To determine the role of surfactant protein A in modulating the transition between innate and adaptive immunity and influencing airway physiology using murine models and cell isolates.
  • Role:  Principle Investigator