Dr. Zev Rymer

William Zev Rymer, MD, PhD

Director, Research Planning Engineering in Neuroscience
Director, Sensory Motor Performance Program (SMPP)

About Me

W. Zev Rymer, M.D., Ph.D., has lent his expertise and leadership first to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and then to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for the last quarter century. He was the second scientist hired by the organization and is a founding force behind the growth and success of our research enterprise, to date the largest and most internationally revered of its kind. He served RIC as Chief Scientist for nine years, transitioning to his current role as Director of Research Planning in July 2014. Today he also continues to lead his renowned Sensory Motor Performance Program (SMPP) laboratories. In addition, Dr. Rymer served as RIC’s John G. Searle Chair in Rehabilitation Research, stepping down in July 2014.

In addition to his research roles, Dr. Rymer holds appointments as Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Physiology and Biomedical Engineering at  Northwestern University and at the Edward Hines, Jr., Veterans Administration Hines Hospital, Hines, Illinois. His laboratory receives support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a number of research-oriented foundations and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Rymer earned his medical degree from Melbourne University and his Ph.D. in neurophysiology from Monash University, both in Australia. After postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University Medical School, he became an assistant professor of neurosurgery and physiology at the State University of New York, Syracuse. In 1978, he came to Chicago as an assistant professor of physiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and he remained as a faculty member in physiology until his appointment at the RIC in 1989.


Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

355 East Erie

Chicago, IL 60611

Education & Training



    Melbourne University
    1967 - 1972
    PhD Neuroscience, Monash University, Australia
    1972 - 1976
    Neuroscience, NIH


    1971 - 1974
    Neuroscience, NIH

Recent Publications

A Unifying Pathophysiological Account for Post-stroke Spasticity and Disordered Motor Control.
Li S, Chen YT, Francisco GE, Zhou P, Rymer WZ
Frontiers in neurology
doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00468
Prolonged time course of population excitatory postsynaptic potentials in motoneurons of chronic stroke survivors.
Son J, Hu X, Suresh NL, Rymer WZ
Journal of neurophysiology
doi: 10.1152/jn.00288.2018
Stride management assist exoskeleton vs functional gait training in stroke: A randomized trial.
Jayaraman A, O'Brien MK, Madhavan S, Mummidisetty CK, Roth HR, Hohl K, Tapp A, Brennan K, Kocherginsky M, Williams KJ, Takahashi H, Rymer WZ
doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000006782


  • An Exploration of Acute Intermittent Hypoxia as a Tool to Enhance Neural Recovery in Stroke Survivors
    American Heart Association, 2018 - 2020
  • Rehabilitation Research Grant Writing Workshops in United States (TIGRR)
    Medical University Of South Carolina, National Institutes of Health, 2018 - 2023
  • Rehabilitation Science for Basic Scientists and Engineers: An Advanced Training Program
    Northwestern University, NIDILRR, 2017 - 2021
  • Origins of Increased Motoneuron Excitability in Hemispheric Stroke
    National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
    , 2016 - 2021
  • Effect of a Novel Intervention Using Daily Intermittent Hypoxia and HIgh-Intensity Training on Upper-Limb Function in Individuals with Spinal Cord Inj
    USA Medical Research Acquisition Activity
    , 2017 - 2021
  • Multi-site Clinical Trial of Hypoxia in Incomplete SCI
    , 2017 - 2022
  • Intensive Rehabilitation Research Grant Writing Workshops in United States (TIGRR)
    Medical University of South Carolina
    , 2018 - 2023

Single Motor Unit Laboratory

We record electrical activity from single motor units as well as muscle during voluntary and reflex contractions in patients with neurological disorders.

view lab

Work History

  • 1989 - 2014
    Director of Research
    Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
  • 1977 - `
    Professor, Physiology