The MRRIN, funded through the NICHD's National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) with additional support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, builds research infrastructure in medical rehabilitation by providing investigators with access to expertise, courses and workshops, technologies, and other collaborative opportunities from allied disciplines such as neuroscience, engineering, applied behavior, and the social sciences.
Medical rehabilitation—a key component of the NICHD mission—involves basic and clinical studies in the domains of pathophysiology, impairment, function, disability, and societal interaction. Access to technologies and approaches from allied fields is critical to promoting multidisciplinary collaborations and developing research opportunities needed to advance the field.
The Network exemplifies the idea that centralized research infrastructure and opportunities enhance the capability of medical rehabilitation investigators, particularly early-career investigators, to understand mechanisms of functional recovery, develop therapeutic strategies, and improve the lives of people with disabilities.
Opportunities facilitated by the Network, which is supported through an R24 funding mechanism, include research training, consultations, core services, on-site sabbaticals, and pilot project funding.
The MRRIN grew out of a 1999 NCMRR initiative to support four regional research networks. Each network was built upon collaboration among three institutions in the geographic region to provide outreach, focus scientific expertise, transfer information, and improve research capacity in medical rehabilitation. Based on the success of the initial regional networks, the NCMRR set about to renew and reinvent the program in 2005 by focusing on providing access to key research expertise and technologies. The reinvented Network—the MRRIN—supported research cores in biomedical, behavioral, and psychosocial sciences relevant to current topics in medical rehabilitation research. In 2010, the Network was expanded further to support research across the rehabilitation research spectrum.
The MRRIN provides rehabilitation researchers access to resources to study a wide range of conditions, including stroke, brain and spinal cord injury, musculoskeletal and joint disorders, developmental disorders, and degenerative disorders.
- Children's National Medical Center (Washington, DC) (genomic analyses, gene expression, and proteomics)
- University of California, San Diego (muscle physiology, histology, imaging, and metabolism)
- Stanford University (human modeling and simulation of movement)
- Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (bioengineering and robotics)
- Boston University Medical Campus (outcomes measurement and assessment)
- University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (using large datasets and health services research)
- Simbex, Inc. (Lebanon, NH) and Dartmouth College (technology assessment and product development)