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2 Research Scientists Honored by AIMBE

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Two Shirley Ryan AbilityLab research scientists — Wendy Murray, PhD, and James Patton, PhD — were inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s (AIMBE’s) College of Fellows at the organization’s April 9 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

This elite distinction is reserved for the top 2 percent of medical and biological engineers in the country, including the most accomplished and distinguished research directors, professors, innovators and entrepreneurs. Admittance follows a process of nomination, review and election by peers.

Dr. Murray is recognized by AIMBE for “development and clinical applications of musculoskeletal simulation of the human arm, and for service contributions to the biomechanics community.” Her research involves the creation of computer models to find better solutions for surgery and rehabilitation.

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“The aim of my research is to use mechanical engineering techniques to predict what a muscle does when the nervous system turns it on,” she says. “We're always working to build better models. We use simulation to develop questions to ask experimentally. Then, we apply our findings to help clinicians make better treatment decisions.”

Dr. Patton is recognized for “exceptional contributions in neural control of movement with applications in the areas of learning and rehabilitation.” His research concentrates on using robotics and other technology to facilitate better results in patients’ rehabilitation

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“I’m focused on how humans control movement. It’s not an easy thing to study or understand; it requires things like robotics and dynamics and feedback control theory,” he says. “It’s a tough problem, but it’s fascinating to an engineer.”

The AIMBE College of Fellows is unique in that it is an honor that also includes a focus on legislative advocacy.

“AIMBE is an important voice that bioengineers have on the side of policy and politics,” Dr. Patton says. “The goal is changing policy to enable bioengineering science to move forward.”

“AIMBE is encouraging us to meet with our government representatives while we’re in D.C. It strives to take a leadership role in advocating for science and communicating about science,” Dr. Murray says. “That’s very exciting.”

Dr. Murray and Dr. Patton join four other Shirley Ryan AbilityLab researchers in the College of Fellows: Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD; Lee Miller, PhD; Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi, PhD; and Eric Perreault, PhD. “So, to be inducted as a fellow is quite an honor,” Dr. Patton says.

“I was a marathon runner, so this accomplishment is very similar to that, where you put in a lot of work for a goal that’s somewhat far away,” Dr. Murray says. “You pursue what you’re interested in and what you value. You hope other people think it’s important as well, so it’s really validating to be recognized.”

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