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Featured Researcher - June 2012

Nancy Byl, PT, PhD, FAPTA

"I was fortunate to receive start up funding for several research projects when I began my faculty career at the University of California, San Francisco. The projects were usually clinical research studies that included students. It was a wonderful way to develop my opportunities to carry out research and begin to excite students about integrating research into their professional practice. While the funding was not considered substantial, it allowed me to purchase some of the equipment I needed as well as meet the costs for obtaining laboratory values or studies that I could not perform myself. In other cases it allowed me to pay the rent on the space/equipment that our Department did not contol. Without these start up funds, I would not have had the preliminary data to develop larger randomized clinical trials and funding. As a consequence of this early funding, I have been committed to help review grants, participate in fund raising and volunteer my time to serve on the Board of the Fund. I remain very committed to maintain this start up research option for others. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part of doing research. The next challenge for clinicians is to obtain funding to "buy" their way out of the clinic to support time for research,. As we look to the future, I will continue to support our committment to young researchers and those changing directions in their research. I also support our efforts to work more collaboratively with the Physical Therapy Foundation of the APTA. I hope others in California will support the mission of the CAL-PT-FUND and get on board to make a financial contribution to maintain and grow the CAL-PT-FUND." 

I have 50 years of experience in rehabilitation ranging from administrative management at a Departmental level to graduate level teaching in physical therapy, medicine and bioengineering to basic, clinical and translational research in the area of neuroplasticity. At UCSF, I have been instrumental in moving a professional curriculum from a baccalaureate degree to a MS degree and ultimately a doctoral degree. I participated in developing a Health Program for Performing Artists, a PT Health and Wellness Program, a NeuroFit Program for patients with chronic neurological and musculoskeletal challenges (e.g. PD, CVA, ALS, PLS, degenerative arthritis, joint replacements) and an integrative, multi disciplinary Balance and Falls Center at UCSF. I currently provide consultation and patient intervention in the Health and Wellness Center. I also participate in clinical research studying the effects of aerobic exercise and dual tasking for patients with PD and participate in several research studies evaluating the effectiveness of integrating technology into rehabilitation programs for patients poast CV, I designed an animal model to study the etiology of focal hand dystonia and contributed towards a paradigm shift in the understanding of dystonia from the perspective of a multifactorial model where we documented cortical degradation of the somatosensory and motor representations following excessive, near simultaneous repetitions. Based on these findings we developed a learning based sensorimotor training program as a method of facilitating recovery in patients post neurological dystunction. I work collaboratively with researchers in the Departments of Radiology and Neurology try to understand the biomarkers associated with patients who recover substantially post stroke or post dystonia and those who do not. I also run a group exercise program for patients with Parkinson’s Disease in collaboration with the UCSF Center for Parkinson’s Disease.

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