Cernich appointed director of NICHD’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research

Alison Cernich

NICHD Director Alan E. Guttmacher announced that, after an extensive national search, Alison Cernich, Ph.D., has been selected as Director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research.  Dr. Cernich, a neuropsychologist, has served as the Deputy Director for the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury at the United States Department of Defense (DCoE).

“Dr. Cernich has extensive expertise in the relationship between mild traumatic brain injury and mental health conditions,” Dr. Guttmacher said.  “Besides her strengths as a scientist, she brings to her new role at NICHD a broad administrative background in research oversight, regulatory compliance, and portfolio management.”

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

The DCoE seeks to improve the lives of our nation’s service members, families and veterans by advancing excellence in psychological health and traumatic brain injury prevention and care.  In her capacity as Deputy Director, Dr. Cernich was the senior liaison from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Defense on matters relating to psychological health and traumatic brain injury. In this role, she served on multiple interagency strategic planning committees and government oversight committees for major research initiatives in both Departments.

Previously, she was the Director of Neuropsychology and Director of the Polytrauma Support Clinical Team at the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS).  She is also an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Her research interests involve investigating the effects of aerobic exercise on cognition in individuals diagnosed with stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other clinical populations.

Dr. Cernich received her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in 2002.


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute's website at

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