Faculty Research Areas

Our Research Areas

Exercise and Cardiometabolic Health

Faculty Investigators
Todd Cade, PT, Ph.D
Grace Ditzenberger, DPT Student

Our laboratory aims to study mechanisms of and treatments (nutritional/exercise/pharmacologic/gene therapy) for abnormalities in cardiometabolic disease, focusing on substrate (e.g. amino acid, glucose, fatty acid) metabolism, energetic, and functional abnormalities in skeletal muscle, heart, adipose tissue, liver, and brain. 

Learn more about our research on exercise and cardiometabolic health.

Neurological Rehabilitation

Faculty Investigator Jody Feld, PT, DPT, PhD

Student Lindsay Heffron, DPT Student

Our research aims are to reduce mobility disability, falls, and chronic sedentary behavior in people living in the community with subacute stroke. In doing this, our intent is to improve their physical activity levels, quality of life, and participation in society. In order to accomplish these aims, we are working on developing individualized multifactorial assessment protocols with strong prognostic value to guide personalized rehabilitation in post-acute care.

Movement Matters for Adults with Multiple Comorbid Conditions and Medical Complexity

Faculty Investigator Amy M. Pastva, PT, MA, PhD, CHSE

Dr. Amy Pastva has two decades of experience as a physical therapist and an academician and has participated as a clinician-scientist at the Principle Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator (Co-I) levels on foundation and federally-funded projects where she developed care transition and rehabilitative strategies aimed at positively influencing physiological mechanisms of health and improving patient-centered outcomes of physical function and quality of life for adults with chronic and/or medically complex conditions such as heart failure, respiratory failure, cancer, and stroke.

Learn more about Dr. Pastva’s research.

Education Innovation Lab

Faculty Investigators
Kyle Covington, PT, DPT, PhD
Katie Myers, PT, DPT Jamie Greco, PT, DPT, EdD
Marcus Roll, PT, DPT Chad Cook, PT, MBA, PhD, FAPTA
Jody Feld, PT, DPT, PhD Kara Lardinois, PT, DPT

Faculty Residents (current)
Zachary Rethorn, PT, DPT
Kelly Reynolds, PT, DPT
Jack Magill, PT, DPT

The Duke DPT Education Innovation Lab is a community of faculty scholars with a shared vision of advancing educational research in the pursuit of excellence in physical therapy education. We aim to be change agents in education, with research projects that investigate and answer critical questions that elevate the standards in crucial components of DPT education. The ultimate purpose of our work is to translate educational research outcomes into delivery of excellent educational experiences, preparing future clinicians that will truly transform society.

Learn more about the Education Innovation Lab.

Neurobiology of Nervous System Damage and Recovery

Faculty Investigator
Timothy D. Faw, PT, DPT, PhD

Lindsay Heffron, DPT Student
Alea Penner, DPT Student
Gabriel Witt, DPT Student

Our translational research investigates the cellular and molecular underpinnings of nervous system damage and recovery, including testing novel interventions to improve outcomes. To do this, we utilize small animal models of clinically-relevant nervous system injuries (spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury) alongside clinical trials in human participants. We are specifically interested in the roles of neuroinflammation and rehabilitation in motor learning, myelin plasticity, and recovery of sensory and motor function after injury. 

Learn more about Neurobiology of Nervous System Damage and Recovery

Clinical Informatics and Data Science

Faculty Investigator
Maggie Horn, DPT, MSPH, PhD

Dr. Horn’s research agenda focuses on understanding the multifactorial experience in patients with musculoskeletal pain by leveraging secondary data from claims, administrative, clinical outcomes, and registry data sources. She has a particular interest in developing sustainable and scalable processes to collect patient-reported outcome measures and clinical data through the EHR to undertake research and quality improvement projects and develop data analytics platforms. 

Learn more about Clinical Informatics and Data Science

Orthopedic Sports Medicine 

Faculty Investigator
Laura Pietrosimone PT, DPT, PhD

Dr. Pietrosimone’s research focuses on lower extremity biomechanics and physical activity in orthopedic and sports medicine populations. Specifically, her work seeks to advance translational science through the development of innovative rehabilitation strategies that address the lasting consequences of both acute and chronic lower extremity injury to promote joint health and optimize patient quality of life.

Learn more about Orthopedic Sports Medicine