Atlanta, GA,
09:38 AM

Shepherd Center’s Vice President of Research and Innovation Named to Georgia Research Alliance Board of Trustees

Deborah Backus, PT, Ph.D., FACRM, joins alliance of top leaders from industry, academia, healthcare and government.

Dr. Backus assumed the role of vice president of research and innovation on March 1, 2021. Photo by Joann Vitelli.

Deborah Backus, PT, Ph.D., FACRM, vice president of research and innovation at Shepherd Center, recently joined the board of trustees for the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). This nonprofit organization brings together Georgia's research universities, business community and state government to create opportunities to grow Georgia's economy through scientific discovery.

As a grant-funded researcher, physical therapist and educator, Backus comes to the board of trustees with more than 35 years of experience in the neurorehabilitation field. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the National MS Society.

“I am honored to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Research Alliance,” Backus said. “GRA has been instrumental in establishing Georgia as a center of discovery and invention, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to further bolster research, science and innovation in Georgia and beyond.”

Backus is known for her innovative approaches to facilitating clinician involvement in research activities, translating meaningful evidence into practice, progressing technology uptake into clinical programs and incorporating standardized outcome assessment into routine clinical practice to better guide clinical care. In addition to serving on the GRA board, Dr. Backus is the immediate past president of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) and serves as one of the founding editors for the Archives of Rehabilitation Research & Clinical Translation. In addition to serving as vice president of research and innovation at Shepherd Center, she is the director of MS research at Shepherd Center and of Shepherd Center’s Virginia C. Crawford Research Institute.

Established in 1996, Shepherd Center’s Virginia C. Crawford Research Institute is an internationally recognized neurological and neuromuscular research center. Researchers conduct federal- and industry-sponsored clinical studies in collaboration with leading experts at other hospitals, research centers, medical schools, and universities worldwide. Research activities primarily focus on spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. 

Since 2016, Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based neurorehabilitation hospital, has received more than $25,000,000 in extramural funding and another $300,000 from industry partners related to innovation. In 2021, Shepherd Center received approximately $1,000,000 generated from industry-sponsored trials. At any given time, Shepherd Center has approximately 20 active grants and 75 active research projects involving hundreds of participants with spinal cord injury, brain injury, MS and related conditions. You can learn more about research at Shepherd Center here

GRA, which expands research and commercialization capacity in Georgia’s universities to launch new companies, create high-value jobs and transform lives, appointed 10 new members, including Backus, to serve three-year terms and two new ex-officio members at a January 20, 2022 meeting. The Board of Trustees serves as the governing body of GRA and generates outside support for the organization.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.