Colin Franz Headshot

Colin Franz MD, PhD

Position Attending Physician, Research Scientist

Board Certifications: Neuromuscular Medicine, Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and Physiatry
Practicing since
Joined staff in 2018
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Telephone Number


About Me

About Me

Dr. Colin Franz, MD/PhD, is a physician and scientist at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. His subspecialties include neuromuscular medicine, electrodiagnostic medicine, and neuromuscular ultrasound. He see patients for (i) peripheral nerve injuries, (ii) brachial plexus injuries, (iii) nerve or tendon transfer candidates or postoperative rehabilitation, (iv) polyneuropathy, diaphragm muscle weakness and ultrasound studies, and (v) motor neuron diseases such as ALS. He is the director of the Electromyography (clinical) and Regenerative Neurorehabilitation (research) laboratories at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. He also is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Neurology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

His research is heavily inspired by the patient populations he cares for. His laboratory team takes a highly technology-oriented approach to precision rehabilitation medicine. Current studies range from transient (resorbable) implanted devices to deliver therapeutics directly to regenerating axons, to making human neurons derived from patient-derived pluripotent stem cells to determine isolate how individual genetic factors effect neurotrauma outcomes. Via many strong collaborations in Chicago and across North America, his lab is able to address clinical problems in neurorehabilitation, neurotrauma, nerve regeneration and degeneration. His research is supported by the NIH, Craig H. Nielsen Foundation, Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as private gifts from community members such as the Belle Carnell (in memoriam) Regeneration Neurorehabilitation Fund.


Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

355 East Erie

Chicago, IL 60611

Education & Training



    1998 - 2002
    Dalhousie University, BS (Honours) in Kinesiology
    2002 - 2007
    Dalhousie University, PhD in Anatomy and Neuroscience
    2009 - 2012
    University of Calgary, MD


    2012 - 2017
    Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University


    2017 - 2018
    Neuromuscular Medicine, The Ken & Ruth Davee Department of Neurology and McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University

Honors & Awards

  • Foundation for PM&R - Richard S. Materson ERF New Investigator Research Award
    "Neurotrauma in a Dish" - An induced pluripotent stem cell-based assay to determine patient specific factors affecting rehabilitation outcomes, 2018
  • Helen Cooper Resident, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
    Recognition of the physical medicine and rehabilitation resident who made the greatest contribution to teaching., 2016
  • Lydia Sikora Memorial Award, University of Calgary
    Recognition of the medical student who made the most outstanding contribution to research., 2011


  • Society for Neuroscience
    Member, 2003
  • Peripheral Nerve Society
    Member, 2011
  • American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    Member, 2012
  • American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine
    Member and Research Committee, 2017

Regenerative Neurorehabilitation Laboratory

This lab uses a combination of molecular, biochemical, and electrophysiological assays to study axon regeneration and motor neuron disease with a priority on human preclinical models such as iPSC-neurons.

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