Foundation Funding Recipient: Jennifer Stevens-Lapsley, PT, MPT, PhD
When Jennifer Stevens-Lapsley, PT, MPT, PhD, was in high school, she spent her summers working as a lab assistant at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her time there introduced her to the possibilities of a research career and the importance of mentorship.
Today, Stevens-Lapsley is the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program Director and a Professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She also serves as director of the RESTORE team and as a Health Scientist at the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center. She is focused on identifying, integrating and advancing innovative evidence-based medicine solutions for older adult rehabilitation through highly effective research methods and partnerships. She has almost 20 years of clinical research experience in patients with osteoarthritis planning joint arthroplasty, and more recently, medically complex patient populations. Her research ranges from understanding the mechanisms of skeletal muscle dysfunction to studies of implementation of best rehabilitation practices in post-acute care settings.
“I felt that becoming a researcher would add a new dimension to what I could do as a therapist,” said Stevens-Lapsley. “I was lured in by the impact I could have on changing the quality of life for patients beyond the ones I was personally treating.”
Stevens-Lapsley credits the Foundation with helping her make strides in her research career. She received a 2000 Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) I Scholarship, 2001 PODS II Scholarship, and the 2007 Pittsburgh-Marquette Challenge Grant.
Her Foundation-funded research provided the base for two larger projects awarded by the NIH. She was awarded a K23 grant for career development and an R01 grant that focused on progressive rehabilitation after knee replacement.
Throughout her career, she has received more than $14,000,000 as Principal Investigator in research funding from organizations like the NIH, Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Veterans Affairs. Recently, she received a two-million-dollar grant from the AHRQ to develop and implement a clinical tool to use predictive analytics to facilitate personalized approaches in caring for patients after TKA.
Although Stevens-Lapsley devotes time each week to working in the lab and interacting with clinicians in the field, she also dedicates much time to teaching and mentoring students. Her own experiences shaped her view on mentoring under Lynn Snyder-Mackler, PT, ScD, SCS, FAPTA, and Stuart Binder-Macleod, PT, PhD, FAPTA. Both Snyder-Macler and Binder-MacLeod were at one point Foundation-funding recipients. Binder-MacLeod is also now a Foundation Trustee. Over the years, she has mentored many students, some of whom have also received Foundation funding, such as Brian Loyd, PT, DPT, PhD; Jason Falvey, PT, DPT, GCS, PhD; and Andrew Kittelson, PT, DPT, PhD, Allison Gustavson, PT, DPT, PhD, and Michael Bade, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, FAAOPT.
“They taught me the importance of mentoring and developing a future generation of clinical scientists to help the profession grow,” said Stevens-Lapsley.
Several of her mentees have also been recipients of Foundation scholarships and grants. Stevens-Lapsley understands the importance of staying connected with organizations like the Foundation. She continues to advise her students on the role the Foundation plays in promoting physical therapy research.
“Physical therapy has so much room for growth and unexplored opportunities,” said Stevens-Lapsley. “If we can utilize fewer resources and refine our techniques to be more effective, this will translate to improvements in quality of life and cost savings for all.”