Dr. Gerard Francisco Elected to Prestigious National Academy of Medicine

A research and clinical leader in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, Gerard E. Francisco, MD, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Dr. Francisco, chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann and professor and chair of the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, is one of 80 professionals elected to the academy for outstanding professional achievement and one of only 17 PM&R specialists in the world elected to the 2,127-member academy since its inception in 1970. Of that small number of physiatrists, 13 are from the United States.

“The entire UTHealth community is proud to congratulate Dr. Francisco on this well-deserved honor,” says UTHealth President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD. “He joins a small and elite group of physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists in the National Academy of Medicine, which speaks to his impressive, important contributions to the field.”

Dr. Francisco specializes in brain injury and stroke rehabilitation, and currently chairs the Brain Injury Medicine Examination Committee of the American Board of PM&R. A National Institutes of Health RO1 grant recipient, Dr. Francisco is the founding director of the NeuroRecovery Research Center at TIRR, where he and his team study the role of neuromodulation, human-machine interfaces, robots and exoskeletons in facilitating neurologic and physical recovery.

“Part of what makes TIRR Memorial Hermann a national leader in rehabilitation is our team of physicians led by Dr. Francisco,” says Carl Josehart, former senior vice president and CEO of TIRR Memorial Hermann. “Through our partnership with UTHealth, Dr. Francisco and his team are helping us to redefine rehabilitation through cutting-edge research and innovation. His election to this prestigious organization is most deserved and a validation of his significant contributions to the field of rehabilitation though research, clinical care and academic scholarship.”

Dr. Francisco received his medical degree at the University of the Philippines and completed his residency in PM&R at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Medical School, where he was chief resident. Before joining the Brain Injury Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann in 1997, he served as director of the Brain Injury Program at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Dr. Francisco was elected to the The University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education in 2013, and was selected to McGovern Medical School Academy of Master Educators in 2012. He was named a Distinguished Member by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in 2015 and received the Sidney Licht Award from the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in 2016. Dr. Francisco has served as president of the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

“What makes this honor truly special to me is that I’m joining my mentors in physical medicine and rehabilitation,” Dr. Francisco says. “This would not have been possible had I not been working at TIRR and UTHealth, a collaborative incubator for innovation and opportunities to make a difference in PM&R. Only 13 physiatrists out of more than 2,100 members is a very small number. It was 21 years before the first physiatrist was elected to the academy. My hope is that this will lead to increased recognition of our field.”

The TIRR Memorial Hermann Traumatic Brain Injury Model System has been renewed for 2022 with an award of $2,315,000.

Lex Frieden, MA, received the 2017 Fries Prize for Improving Health Recipient at the James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation and the CDC Foundation VIP Luncheon held in November 2017. Under his direction, ILRU received a competitive renewal of the ADA PARC grant with a value of $2.5 million over five years. The ILRU also received two cooperative agreements that extend current work, one for the Center for Independent Living, which has a value of more than $1.7 million over three years, and a second for the Statewide Independent Living Council Training and Technical Assistance Award, with a value of $259,316 over three years.

Catherine Murray, OT, earned her Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals certification.

Marcie O’Malley, PhD, director of rehabilitation engineering at TIRR and professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab at Rice University, has been appointed Special Advisor to the Provost for Health-Related Research and Educational Initiatives at Rice University, serving from July 2017 to June 2018. She received the 2017 Hamill Innovation Award given by the Rice Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering and the 2017 George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University.

Carly Thom, OTR, PhD, occupational therapy clinical coordinator at TIRR Memorial Hermann Adult and Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation, has earned her doctorate in occupational therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Houston.

Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, was elected to the UTHealth Academy of Master Educators (AME). The AME honors distinguished scholars at UTHealth for their teaching and educational excellence, and commitment to the enhancement of medical and graduate education.

Four physicians affiliated with TIRR Memorial Hermann were named Top Doctors by Houstonia magazine. They are Glendaliz Bosques, MD, pediatric rehabilitation consultant at TIRR and clinical assistant professor at UTHealth; Joel Frontera, MD, assistant professor, residency program director and vice chair for education in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UTHealth; Jacob Joseph, MD, a clinical assistant professor at UTHealth and clinical chief of specialty rehabilitation programs and medical director of international programs at TIRR; and Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, medical director of Brain Injury and Stroke Programs at TIRR and assistant professor and vice chair of quality, compliance and patient safety at UTHealth.


Bailey EK, Nakase-Richardson R, Patel N, Dillahunt-Aspillaga C, Ropacki SA, Sander AM, Stevens L, Tang X. Supervision needs following veteran and service member moderate to severe traumatic brain injury: A VA TBI Model System Study. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 2017;32:245-254.

Erwin AE, O’Malley MK, Ress D, Sergi F. Kinesthetic Feedback During 2DOF Wrist Movements via a Novel MR-Compatible Robot. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. 2017;25(9):1489-99.

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Francisco GE, Yozbatiran N, Berliner J, O’Malley MK, Pehlivan AU, Kadivar Z, Fitle K, Boake C. Robotic-assisted training of arm and hand movement shows functional improvements for incomplete cervical SCI. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2017;96(10); S171-S177.

Frullo JM, Elinger J, Fitle K, Pehlivan AU, Nedley K, Francisco G, Sergi F, O’Malley MK. Effects of Assist-As-Needed Upper Extremity Robotic Therapy After Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury: A Parallel-Group Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Neurorobotics. 2017;11:26.

Karri J, Zhang L, Li S, Chen Y-T, Stampas A, Li S. Heart rate variability: a novel modality for diagnosing neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury. Frontiers in Physiology. 2017 July 18;8:495.

Li X, Li L, Shin H, Li S, Zhou P. Electrical Impedance Myography for Evaluating Paretic Muscle Changes after Stroke. IEEE in Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering. 2017 May;PP(99):1-1.

Murray C, Jennings J, Kadivar Z, Bollmeyer T, Meier G. Translating upper extremity research evidence into a wellness-based model. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. 2017 Sep;40(5): 602.

Potter T, Li S, Nguyen T, Nguyen T, Ince N, Zhang Y. Characterization of Volume-Based Changes in Cortical Auditory Evoked Potentials and Prepulse Inhibition. Scientific Reports. 2017 Dec;7:1.

Rodriguez MM, Li S, Francisco GE. Centrally Mediated Late Motor Recovery After Botulinum Toxin Injection: Case reports and a review of current evidence. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 2017 Aug. 31;49(8):609-19.

Sander AM, Clark AN, van Veldhoven LM, Hanks R, Hart T, Leon-Novelo L, Ngan E, Arciniegas DB. Factor analysis of the Everyday Memory Questionnaire in persons with traumatic brain injury. The Clinical Neuropsychologist. Epub ahead of print 2017 Aug 29:1-15.

Stevens LF, Lapis Y, Tang X, Sander AM, Dreer LE, Hammond FM, Kreutzer J, O’Neil-Pirozzi T, Nakase-Richardson R. Relationship stability after traumatic brain injury among veterans and service members: A VA TBI Model System study. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 2017;32;234-244.


Adair C, Abbott R. Leveraging Education Design to Reach Quality Outcomes and Program Growth. The American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association, Chicago, Oct. 2017.

Anderl E, Lyon M, Martin L, Wingard D. The Error of Our Ways: A Novel Approach to the Rehabilitation of Acquired Brain Injury Induced Ataxia. Presented at the Texas Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference, Corpus Christi, Oct. 2017.

Clark RK, Moderated a Lunch & Learn Roundtable Discussion to Represent TIRR’s Experience and Success in Implementing Malnutrition Initiatives as Part of a Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative as Part of a Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative Learning Collaborative. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics FNCE, Chicago, Oct. 2017.

Erwin A, Pezent E, Bradley J, O’Malley MK. The effect of robot dynamics on the smoothness of wrist pointing movements. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, London, UK, July 2017.

Falco C. Pharmacologic Interventions of Neuropsychiatric Disorders after TBI. The Transitional Learning Center’s 4th Annual Brain Injury Conference, Lubbock, TX, Oct. 2017.

Hughes RB, Nosek MA, Robinson-Whelen S, Krueger A, Silveira SL, Markley R. A Practical Guide for Offering Psychological Health Promotion Interventions to Small Groups in Online Virtual Worlds. Texas Psychological Association Annual Convention, Houston, Nov. 2017.

Ivanhoe CB, Speaker at Disorders of Consciousness Dissertation Defense, University of Oslo, Norway, Nov. 2017.

Ivanhoe CB, Neuropsychology Concussion: Case-Based Learning Case Presentation. Neuropharmacology Pre-Course: Spasticity Management. American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Atlanta, Oct. 2017.

Ivanhoe CB, Working Women Across the Generations. The Horses and Zebras of Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy. Subspecialty-Based Spasticity Pearls: Movement Disorders. Why Was That ITB Trial Negative and Why Didn’t That Toxin Work? American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Denver, Oct. 2017. Li S, Observational gait analysis of post-stroke hemiparetic gait for botulinum toxin therapy. AAPMR, Denver, Oct. 2017.

Li S, An Example of Clinical Application of Biomedical Engineering – 3D Innervation Zone Detection from Surface EMG Recording for Spasticity Management. Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston, Oct. 2017.

McDonald CG, Dennis TA, O’Malley MK. Characterization and Classification of Surface Electromyography (sEMG) Patterns in Single and Multi-Degree-of-Freedom Movements in an Upper-Extremity Exoskeleton for Wrist and Elbow. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, London, UK, July 2017.

O’Malley MK, Challenge and Engagement: Ensuring effective upper limb robotic rehabilitation. Gulf Coast Consortia Cluster for NeuroEngineering 7th Annual Symposium, [where?], Oct. 2017.

O’Malley MK, Enhancing Human Performance with Wearable Robotics. Technology Collaboration Center, Automation & Robotics Workshop, Houston, Aug. 2017.

Pehlivan AU, Losey DP, Rose CG, O’Malley MK. Maintaining Subject Engagement during Robotic Rehabilitation with a Minimal Assist-as-Needed (mAAN) Controller. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, London, UK, July 2017.

Pezent E, Rose CG, Deshpande AD, O’Malley MK. Design and Characterization of the OpenWrist: A Robotic Wrist Exoskeleton for Coordinated Hand-wrist Rehabilitation. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, London, UK, July 2017. Finalist for Best Poster Award.

Robinson-Whelen S, Hughes RB, Taylor HB, Markley R, Vega J, Nosek MA. Promoting Psychological Health Using the Online Virtual World of Second Life. Texas Psychological Association Annual Convention, Houston, Nov. 2017.

Rose CG, Kann CK, Despande AD, O’Malley MK. Estimating Anatomical Wrist Joint Motion with a Robotic Exoskeleton. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, London, UK, July 2017.

Sander AM, Caregiving for Wounded Warriors: Impact and Treatment Implications. Mitchell Rosenthal Memorial Lecture Webinar, sponsored by the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation and Brain Injury Association of America, Aug. 2017.

Sander AM, Primary language and participation outcomes after traumatic brain injury. In T. Bushnik’s Cultural Considerations and Impacts for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury. The 94th annual conference of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Atlanta, Oct. 2017.

Silveira SL, Robinson-Whelen S, Taylor H. Self-Report Weight Status and Weight Loss Efforts in Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Participants. American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Oct. 2017.

Sullivan JL, Bhagat NA, Yozbatiran N, Paranjape R, Losey CG, Grossman RG, Contreras-Vidal JL, Francisco GE, O’Malley MK. Improving Robotic Stroke Rehabilitation by Incorporating Neural Intent Detection: Preliminary Results from a Clinical Trial, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, London, UK, July 2017.

Verduzco-Gutierrez M, White-Coat Nation: Employing Modern Technology in Medicine. Subspecialty-Based Spasticity Pearls. Fellowship Round Table: How to Land the Fellowship You Want. Chemodenervation of the Upper Limb. Working Women Across Generations: What Has Changed? What Has Not?

Winter 2018 Edition