Current Research Opportunities for Prospective PhD Rehabilitation Sciences Students

The PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences at MGH Institute of Health Professions trains scientists to conduct research in health and rehabilitation-related fields. Prospective students are asked to identify a potential Research Mentor who is willing to work with them as part of the pre-application process.

Opportunities for the current cycle (August 2023) are below.

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The overall mission of the CASI is to improve outcomes in aging and serious illness. Work with Dr. Christine Ritchie, the Director of the CASI and Kenneth Minaker Chair in Geriatrics at MGH, a board-certified geriatrician and palliative care physician whose research program focuses on improving care delivery and outcomes for older adults with multimorbidity and advanced illnesses; and Tamra Keeney, Director of CASI Data Core, a clinician scientist and physical therapist whose research agenda is focused on optimizing rehabilitation for older adults living with serious illness, including advanced heart failure.

The CASI is looking for an enthusiastic PhD student to join their interdisciplinary team. The ideal candidate will have relevant clinical experience working with older adults and/or those living with multimorbidity and serious illness (Alzheimer’s and related dementias, heart failure, cancer, etc.) and an interest conducting research to better understand care delivery and develop and test interventions. Students will have an opportunity to participate in a wide array of research areas, including observational research, mixed methods studies, and clinical trials.

If interested, tkeeney1 [at] (contact Dr. Keeney) with your name, CV, and research interests.

man talks to another man on a recumbent bike

Join our Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program to work with Dr. J. Andrew Taylor, PhD, Principal Investigator for the Cardiovascular Research Lab at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Associate Professor at Harvard University. He is seeking a PhD student to conduct research related to exercise to prevent cardiovascular, pulmonary, and metabolic declines after spinal cord injury. His lab studies cardiovascular and autonomic (patho) physiology in the areas of bone blood flow control, anorexia, spinal cord injury, and aging. Integrative physiological techniques used in the lab include measures of systemic and regional hemodynamics, direct measures of peroneal sympathetic nervous activity, and integrative models of cardiovascular control.

Funding for a PhD student may be available, depending on the area of research interest.

For additional informationjandrew_taylor [at] ( email Dr. Taylor) with your name, CV, and area(s) of interest.

man in suit bends his arm at the elbow along with a man in a wheelchair

Research opportunity available for a physical or occupational therapist interested in working in the areas of surgical outcomes research, spinal cord stimulation, and quality of life consequences of paralysis reversing reconstructive interventions. The student will pursue a PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, and work in a collaborative research lab, the Paralysis Center led by Dr. Justin Brown – Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School. The ideal candidate will have completed the requirements for a degree in occupational or physical therapy and have experience working with individuals following paralyzing injuries. Additional experience in data collection methods such as gait evaluation, upper limb and hand function assessment, spasticity assessment or surface electromyography is desirable.

Applications from women and representatives of minority groups are encouraged. If interested, jmbrown [at] (contact Dr. Justin Brown.)

profile photo of shweta

A fully funded doctoral position is available (August 2023 start) for prospective PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences students with interests in large dataset research to examine physical activity assessments and interventions in chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Begins August/September 2023. The student will work under the mentorship of Dr. Shweta Gore and utilize large national datasets and electronic health records for health services research to mitigate the risk of poor health outcomes in individuals with chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions. The ideal candidate will have experience working with patients who have cardiovascular/pulmonary conditions. Additional experience in research methods, STATA, SAS, or R is desirable.

Please sgore [at] (contact Dr. Shweta Gore) if interested.

woman points at computer screen while another sits in front with a stopwatch in her hand

Dr. Julie Keysor is welcoming individuals with an interest in digital health care applications that integrate rehabilitation science, behavior change and technologies. Research activities will include: Stroke rehab using wearable sensors and a behaviorally based platform for behavior change of upper extremity motor recovery in the home setting (funded SBIR Phase II); use of augmented reality to clinical assessment of older adults with knee pain/OA in the home setting; and virtual realty for physical therapy rehabilitation in the home setting for children with chronic pain or degenerative muscular dystrophies. Funded opportunities are available for the academic year beginning August 2024 and availability of IHP PhD Fellowships.

If interested, please send your name, CV, and a brief statement of your interests in working in the B-ABLE lab jkeysor [at] (to Dr. Julie Keysor).

The mission of the INSPIRE lab is to help people with paralysis regain functional movements. To accomplish this mission, we focus our research on answering several important clinical questions:

  1. How do preserved neural pathways communicate with functionally relevant motor targets after spinal cord injury (SCI)?
  2. How do plasticity-promoting primers accelerate and anchor the benefits of task-specific training after SCI?

We expect that answering these questions will establish important principles for exploiting endogenous mechanisms of plasticity for treating neurologic pathologies. Understanding and learning how to harness this plasticity will profoundly impact persons with life-altering paralysis. Our recent studies provide new appreciation for the capacity of the human spinal cord to adapt and reorganize after injury. In particular, we demonstrated that a novel spinal plasticity-promoting primer elicits respiratory and non-respiratory motor recovery in rodent SCI models (Lovett-Barr et al., 2012) and improved limb function in humans with SCI (Trumbower et al., 2012). An important goal guiding our translational research is to identify whether endogenous mechanisms of spinal plasticity demonstrated in rodents also contribute to functional recovery in humans with SCI. To achieve this goal, our team uses advanced electrophysiology, pharmacology, neuromechanics, and computer simulation techniques in able-bodied humans and persons with SCI.
Funding available for two years of PhD training. Contact is Dr. Randy Trumbower, PT, PhD, Lab Director.

woman sits at table in childs classroom with a book open

Join our Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program to work with Dr. Joanna Christodoulou, EdD, Associate Professor in the IHP’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and the Brain, Education, and Mind (BEAM) Lab. We use clinical, behavioral, and neuroimaging tools to study reading development and difficulties in children. We explore mechanisms of reading difficulty, response to intervention, and comorbid/co-occurring challenges. Join us to work on improving reading outcomes for young readers. Funding for a PhD student may be available, depending on the area of research interest.

For more information, beamstudies [at] (email BEAM Studies) with your name, CV, and area(s) of interest.

little boy wears a cap made of interconnected white round disks

Join our Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program to study learning and executive functions in children with developmental language disorder (DLD) under the mentorship of Dr. Yael Arbel, PhD, CCC-SLP and the Cognitive Neuroscience Group. Funding for a PhD student may be available.

For more information, cnglead [at] (email the CNG Lab) with your name, CV, and areas of interest.

woman places small grey sensors on a person's face

The research objectives of the SPaN-AD lab are to better understand how speech motor control changes with normal and pathological aging, how cognitive function can impact speech motor control, and how age-related changes in speech motor control inform early diagnosis and progress monitoring of cognitive impairment due to AD. To address these questions, we integrate multimodal electrophysical, biomechanical, and neuroimaging techniques to identify the underlying neural and physiological mechanisms of speech production in normal and pathological speech and determine the cerebrovascular, physiological, and neuropathological factors that influence speech deterioration and cognitive decline in populations with dementia. We also characterize the interplay between cognition and speech motor control and identify structural and functional changes in speech brain regions that occur due to aging and age-associated neurodegenerative diseases. Our goal is to: 1) identify speech markers with potential to be used clinically for AD diagnosis and prognosis, and 2) develop interventional and preventative strategies to promote oromotor and cognitive function reserve for patients at risk of developing age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Potential funding for two years.

The successful candidate will develop expertise in speech acoustics and biomechanics, neuroimaging, and cognitive neuroscience and will have the opportunity to submit research proposals and develop grantsmanship experience. The roles defined for this position include: 1) data processing and analyses, and 2) dissemination of findings through the preparation of peer-reviewed manuscripts and conference presentations.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter describing research interests and experience along with your CV/resume and names/contact information of three references to meshghi [at] (Dr. Marziye Eshgi). Please include your name and the text “Research Fellow Application” in the subject line. The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.