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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Names Dr. Michael Boninger Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 5, 2009 – The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has selected Michael Boninger, M.D., a renowned researcher in spinal cord injury and assistive technology, as chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R).
Since November 2007, Dr. Boninger has directed the UPMC Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (IRR), which combines medical care and research to help patients regain independence and enhance their quality of life. The IRR recently opened new clinical and research quarters, offering an expansion of specialized services for stroke, pain management, and brain and spinal cord injuries, among others. Dr. Boninger will continue serving this role along with his position as associate dean for medical student research at the Pitt School of Medicine and his secondary Pitt appointments in the School of Engineering and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
“Mike Boninger is a superb clinician, leader and investigator with a career-long interest in educating and training students, residents and fellows on the value of research and preparing them for research careers,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the Pitt Schools of the Health Sciences and dean of the Pitt School of Medicine. “We are fortunate indeed to have a person of his talent and commitment in place to fill the role of chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.”
The author of five U.S. patents, Dr. Boninger is recognized for his extensive research on spinal cord injury, assistive technology and overuse injuries, particularly those associated with manual wheelchair propulsion. He currently receives research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Also interested in medical student research and education, he has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed journal publications, 20 book chapters and nearly 200 refereed conference proceedings.
Dr. Boninger is director of Pitt’s Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury and medical director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), a joint venture among UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and designated a “Center of Excellence for Wheelchairs and Related Technology” by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
After earning his bachelor’s and medical degrees from The Ohio State University, Dr. Boninger completed a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. He joined the Pitt School of Medicine faculty in 1993 as an instructor in what then was the Division of PM&R. He is a founding faculty member of the Department of PM&R and has served as a professor since 2004.
Pitt’s Department of PM&R is ranked No. 1 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The department currently comprises 33 full-time, multidisciplinary faculty members who train and educate the next generation of rehabilitation physicians and researchers. 

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see

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