McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Affiliated Faculty Member Elected to Institute of Medicine
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michael Boninger, MD, has been elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM), an honor that acknowledges his contributions to the field. The election of Dr. Boninger, professor and chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pitt School of Medicine, director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, and a physician scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, was announced recently at the IOM 42nd annual meeting. Dr. Boninger’s research efforts at both the university and the VA focus on technologies to improve the lives of individuals with spinal cord injury and other disabilities. His team’s wheelchair work primarily conducted at Pitt’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories, where he is the medical director, has led to patents for devices used throughout the world. In addition, his team discovered a link between how a person propels a manual wheelchair and their risk of injuries, such as rotator cuff tears. This discovery led to clinical practice guidelines that have become the standard of care. Dr. Boninger led the development of these guidelines in conjunction with a team of renowned clinicians and with the support of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Dr. Boninger has made other substantial contributions in the broad area of assistive technology. Recent work conducted in part at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games has been in the field of brain computer interfaces, where he is part of a team that is enabling people with spinal cord injury to control devices through thought. He prides himself in being a teacher and mentor, and has funding and publications related to teaching research. Dr. Boninger, who earned his engineering and medical degrees at Ohio State University before completing his residency at the University of Michigan, joined the Pitt faculty in 1993 as an instructor in what was then the Division of PM&R – now a department that he chairs.
Current IOM members select new ones from the health sciences, medicine, and public health in a rigorous process. Election requires a commitment to volunteer on boards and in other activities carried out by IOM in its role as an independent, science-based advisor on health issues. The IOM was established in 1970 as the health branch of the National Academy of Sciences.