CJ Heckman

CJ Heckman, PhD

Associate Chair for Research, Dept. of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sci.

About Me

Dr. Heckman's lab has worked on the mechanisms of spinal motor output for over 25 years. Motoneurons provide the output to muscle for all movements and our systematic studies of these cells provide a fundamental underpinning for understanding motor function and its rehabilitation. The techniques in our lab span the cellular, circuit and system levels in animal preparations and the resulting data has allowed us to achieve remarkably deep insights in motor function in human subjects. Our development of biologically realistic computer simulations of motoneurons synthesizes this multi-level information and provides both predictions to guide experiments in humans and a deeper understanding of cellular mechanisms of human function, with an emphasis on developing new therapies for spinal injury, ALS and cerebral stroke.


Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

355 East Erie

Chicago, IL 60611

Education & Training



    1971 - 1975
    Biology, Oberlin College
    1979 - 1983
    Kinesiology, MS, University of Washington
    1983 - 1986
    Physiology and Biophysics, PhD, University of Washington


    1986 - 1988
    Neural Control of Movement, National Institutes of Health

Recent Publications

Association of Skin Cancer Risk and Protective Behaviors with Health Literacy Among Young Adults in the USA.
Heckman CJ, Auerbach MV, Darlow S, Handorf EA, Raivitch S, Manne SL
International journal of behavioral medicine
doi: 10.1007/s12529-019-09788-1
Couple-focused interventions for men with localized prostate cancer and their spouses: A randomized clinical trial.
Manne SL, Kashy DA, Zaider T, Kissane D, Lee D, Kim IY, Heckman CJ, Penedo FJ, Murphy E, Virtue SM
British journal of health psychology
doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12359

Professional Affiliations

  • Editorial Board Member
    Journal of Neurophysiology, 2008
  • Chair, NIH Study Section BNVT
    National Institutes of Health, 2012 - 2014

Research Interests

  • Spinal cord injury
  • ALS
  • Cerebral stroke
  • Basic mechanisms of spinal motor output

Selected Grants

  • NIH
    RO1 NS085331, 2014 - 2019
  • NIH
    RO1 NS089313, 2014 - 2019
  • NIH
    RO1 NS098509, 2016 - 2021