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The primary objectives of any resident research project are to ensure that the experience is educational, ethical, productive and an overall positive experience. The Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation research staff and faculty work with our residents to meet the needs of their project and research education. This includes:

  • Consultation
  • Guidance
  • Direction to needed resources
  • Information on applying for Carolinas HealthCare Foundation funds
  • Explanation of IRB procedures
  • Training in regulatory oversight and Good Clinical Practices
  • Financial administration and project management

Janet Niemeier, PhD, ABPP, Mark Hirsch, PhD, and Tami Guerrier are here to help guide you through a successful research experience.

Research Directors and Faculty

Janet Niemeier, PhD, ABPP
Professor, Senior Director of Research

Janet Niemeier, PhD, ABPP, Professor, Senior Director of Research

Dr. Niemeier received her Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University and subsequently did postdoctoral work at University of Virginia. She is a nationally and internationally recognized, clinician/researcher with special interests in clinical trials of neurobehavioral and cognitive interventions following brain injury, ethnic and gender differences in rehabilitation outcomes, and grief following disability. Her research has been externally funded for 15 years by such agencies as NIH, NIDRR, and NARSAD. She completed a fellowship at Drexel University College of Medicine in Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine for Women (ELAM) and is board-certified in rehabilitation psychology. She joined the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Carolinas Rehabilitation in 2012, where she is currently a Professor and Director of Research.

The findings of Dr. Niemeier’s research have been published in over 50 articles, book chapters, and special intervention materials. Her social-behavioral research projects include a manualized intervention for improving functional status of persons with TBI1, a manualized intervention for improving productivity after brain injury2, and a visual attention strategy to improve outcomes following brain injury in persons with hemispatial inattention or neglect, The Lighthouse Strategy3. She has written multiple books4-6 related to coping/cognitive strategies for persons with brain injury and their family members. More recently she has organized a cross-field collaborative research team at Carolinas Healthcare System to explore biomarkers that may help shed light on treatments for persons with disabilities related to SCI and TBI.

1Niemeier JP, Kreutzer JS, Marwitz JH, Gary KW, Ketchum JM. Efficacy of a brief acute neurobehavioural intervention following traumatic brain injury: a preliminary investigation. Brain Inj 2011; 25:680-690.
2Niemeier JP, DeGrace SM, Farrar LF, Ketchum JS, Berman AJ, Young JA. Effectiveness of a comprehensive, manualized intervention for improving productivity and employability following brain injury. J Voc Rehabil 2010; 33:167-179.
3Niemeier JP. The Lighthouse Strategy: use of a visual imagery technique to treat visual inattention in stroke patients. Brain Inj 1998; 12:399-406.
4Niemeier JP, Kreutzer JS, DeGrace SM. Choosing, Finding, and Keeping a Job after Brain Injury. Wake Forest, NC:Lash & Associates, 2009
5West DD, Niemeier JP. Memory Matters: Strategies for Managing Everyday Memory Problems. National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, 2005.
6Niemeier JP, Karol RL. Overcoming Grief and Loss after Brain Injury. New York, NY:Oxford University Press, 2010.

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Mark Alexander Hirsch, PhD
Research Faculty

Mark Alexander Hirsch, PhD, Research Faculty

Dr. Mark Hirsch is a leading research scientist with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He received his PhD at Florida State University (1996) with a randomized controlled trial titled: “Activity-dependence enhancement of balance and muscle strength in Parkinson’s disease”. He completed his training in neurorehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with Barbara J. de Lateur, MD (PM&R) and obtained international expertise in movement disorders through a neurology fellowship in motor control with Harald Hefter, MD, PhD at Dusseldorf University School of Medicine, Germany. His research and scholarship address issues of motor coordination in Parkinson’s disease, including balance and gait impairment. Two research areas of particular interest are innovation and participatory medicine, including conceptual and empirical studies on spouse and patient-as-partner in delivering health care, shared decision making, and potential barriers to physical activity.

In 2012 Dr. Hirsch together with Dr. Sanjay Iyer developed RENEW Carolinas Parkinson Disease Initiative (Research and Education in Neuro-Wellness), a joint initiative with Carolinas HealthCare System Neurosciences, Carolinas Rehabilitation, LiveWELL Health Center and local branches of the YMCA of greater Charlotte, to promote community-based neuro-wellness care for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Hirsch’s participatory research has been externally funded both privately and through the National Institutes of Health. He serves on several international Editorial Boards and is the past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Parkinson Association of the Carolinas (2010-2012). Dr. Hirsch is especially passionate about mentoring Resident Physicians, Junior Faculty, and teaching.

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Tami Guerrier, LRT/CTRS, CBIST
Assistant Director, Carolinas Rehabilitation Research Department

Tami Guerrier, LRT/CTRS, CBIST, Assistant Director

Tami Guerrier holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of physical rehabilitation with over 15 years of experience with demonstration grants and research administration. Ms. Guerrier has provided administrative management for federal grants including National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) grants for TBI Model Systems and National Institute of Health grants, as well as state grant contracts at Carolinas Rehabilitation including TBI Project STAR and Health Resources and Services Administration contracts.

Due to her extensive experience with grant management the state grant contracts have been refunded annually for the past 15 years under her administration. Ms. Guerrier is a published author and a frequent presenter at local, state, and national conferences. In her present role as assistant director of Research for Carolinas Rehabilitation, Ms. Guerrier works with Dr. Niemeier and Dr. Hirsch in managing a strong, nationally-recognized research program.

Guerrier, T., Hammond, F., Lash, M. (2011). Cognition: Compensatory strategies after brain injury. Wake Forest NC: Lash & Associates Publishing/ Training, Inc.
Guerrier, T. & Hammond, F. Eds. (2010) Brain injury it is a journey: A practical guide for families. Wake Forest, NC: Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc.
Guerrier, T. & Hammond, F. Eds. (2006). Brain Injury it is a journey: A practical guide for families. Wake Forest, NC: Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc.
Guerrier, T. & Bostic, A. (2001). Bridging the gap: Community integration through collaboration between a community college and a rehabilitation program. Cognitive Technology 2001 6 (1).
Pringnitz (Guerrier), T., & Dillinger, G. Leisure counseling with chronic pain patients. Expanding Horizons in Therapeutic Recreation Journal. 1983 (4).
Pringnitz (Guerrier), T. & MacNeil, R. The Role of Therapeutic Recreation in Stroke Rehabilitation. Therapeutic Recreation Journal. 1982. 4 (16).

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Research Curriculum
Required Elements

Research Director Meetings: Each year, residents complete a research and career interest survey and meet with the research director to develop an individualized research plan for their residency.

Human Subjects Protection Education Web Course: This simple, self-paced course offers an excellent overview of the protection of human subjects involved in clinical research.

Annual Biostatistics Course: A six session Biostatistics Course is offered each September through October by our Biostatistics department. Statistician Dr. Jim Norton adds high-energy and plenty of imagination to this entertaining (yes, entertaining!) course. Jim is an excellent teacher with a unique ability to turn basic research language into something everyone can understand and enjoy.

Quarterly Research Conference: Research Conferences are held four times yearly and are scheduled during Thursday noon lectures. Conference topics vary, and are developed in accordance with the education needs of the residents and faculty. Topics cover four broad categories:

  • Regulations, ethics and good clinical practices
  • Literature searches, electronic resources, research funding, statistics and project management
  • Dissemination of research findings
  • Critical review of the literature

These conferences are designed to provide an interactive forum that complements the activities of residents as they move through the different phases of research project cycles.

Journal Club: Journal Club is held twice per quarter. The goals of the Journal Club are:

  • To teach critical review of the literature
  • To prepare residents to pursue their academic and research interests
  • To provide exposure to the basics of research design and statistics
  • To allow for discussion of articles that describe changes in practice or current thinking

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Research Curriculum
Non-required Elements

Resident Research Project: Research creates countless opportunities for critical thinking and literature interpretation. In the era of evidence-based medicine, it becomes necessary for each specialty to create practice guidelines with a rigorous scientific basis. The resident research project prepares residents to:

  • Search and review literature with a critical approach
  • Pursue their career/academic vision
  • Present clinical and research findings effectively

The curriculum is individualized and designed to be practical, interactive and inspiring. A variety of levels of research endeavors are available, including

  • Case studies
  • Case series
  • Article and chapter review
  • Database research
  • Prospective and retrospective original studies

The Research Director and faculty help guide each resident throughout the research process, preparing each resident to meet the academic challenges ahead. Some are so inspired by their research experience that they choose to continue to focus on much-needed PM&R research.

Industry-Sponsored Research: Residents may be offered the opportunity to participate in industry-sponsored clinical trials.

Research Elective: Residents may elect to spend up to one month on research. They may choose to focus this time on their own project, or to work on other research department activities. Prior to the elective, the resident and Research Director develop individualized objectives specific to the upcoming rotation. In order to get resident research projects completed before the end of residency, residents are encouraged to complete their "research month" during the PGY-3 year or in early PGY-4.

Co-Investigator Meetings: Research project participants meet regularly with co-investigators who guide the project from inception to completion. This forum provides a perfect platform for both education and collaboration.

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Carolinas Rehabilitation Research Excellence Award

Upon completion of the residency, the class of PGY-4 residents will be considered for the Clinical Research Award. In order to be eligible the resident must do the following:

  • Complete their research project
  • Submit the manuscript for publication
  • Demonstrate excellence in research

Though eligibility will be reviewed annually, this award acknowledges the highest standards of research, and thus may not be granted every year. The award consists of an elegant commemorative inscription and $500.

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