Item of Interest: Theresa Cruz appointed director of NICHD’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research

Center at NIH focuses on enhancing health and quality of life for people with physical disabilities

A headshot of Theresa Cruz, Ph.D.
Theresa Cruz, Ph.D. NCMRR Director

Theresa Hayes Cruz, Ph.D., has been selected as director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), part of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). After a year-long national search, Dr. Cruz, who has served as acting director of NCMRR since September 2019, will fill the position permanently.

“Dr. Cruz’s fresh perspective on the benefits of technology and rehabilitation and her long-standing engagement with the community will be a great benefit to NCMRR, NICHD and NIH,” said Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., NICHD Director.

Under Dr. Cruz’s leadership, NCMRR has awarded a new national rehabilitation infrastructure network, worked to revise the NIH Research Plan for Rehabilitation, and is leading an NIH-wide rehabilitation research conference scheduled for October 2020.

Through basic, translational, and clinical research, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research advances scientific knowledge needed to enhance the health, independence, and quality-of-life of people with physical disabilities.

Dr. Cruz has been with NIH since 2009. As a health scientist administrator with NCMRR, Dr. Cruz managed grants in the Devices and Technology Development and Rehabilitation Diagnostics and Interventions Programs. She also managed Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer awards in medical rehabilitation.

In addition to her duties at NCMRR, Dr. Cruz is a team lead in the NIH Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative, where she co-manages a grant portfolio focused on neurotechnology development, validation, and translation for applications in neuroscience, neurophysiology, movement disorders, pain, neuromodulation, and other interfaces with the nervous system.

Dr. Cruz received her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering with highest honors from the School of Engineering at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She received her master's and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University. Her previous research at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago focused on motor control and gait impairments of the lower limb following stroke.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD leads research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents, and optimize abilities for all. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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