Newswise — Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD, Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the University of Pittsburgh/UPMC and Director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, has been elected president of the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP), the largest membership society for academic physiatry, at their 2021 Virtual Conference. Dr. Sowa succeeds Adam Stein, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of PM&R at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/ Northwell. Dr. Sowa will serve a two-year term focused on building resources, relationships and the future of academic physiatry.

"We have been very fortunate to have Dr. Stein gracefully lead us through the most tumultuous of times,” said Dr. Sowa. “With his calm guidance and the commitment of our entire team, our organization emerges even stronger and better poised to address ongoing challenges and opportunities. In what promises to be a future of uncertainties and rapid change, we will embrace our differences and leverage our relationships to serve as a resource for each other. In supporting the AAP’s core mission – to mentor, discover and lead – we will reinforce the essential role of Physiatry in our academic institutions and in our communities. With everything that we have learned in the past year, it is with eager anticipation that I look forward to helping the AAP to thrive and continue to be an indispensable resource for our members." 

Dr. Sowa has been an active member of the AAP since her residency training in 2002, including serving as Chair of the Governance Committee and Research Committee. She has also served in other roles including the AAP’s Chairs Council, Women in Physiatry Task Force, Legislative Affairs Committee, Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program (RMSTP) and the Board of Trustees. She is nationally and internationally renowned for leading and mentoring diverse groups of trainees, physicians and scientists.

Dr. Sowa also serves as Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research, and Medical Director of UPMC Total Care - Musculoskeletal Health. She completed her PhD in Biochemistry and her PM&R residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University. She has served as a clinician-scientist in PM&R for over 15 years and has mentored more than 90 trainees in research and career development. Throughout her career, she has authored and co-authored over 100 original research publications and 40 book chapters and reviews, and given over 200 national presentations and numerous lectureships. She has received over 20 local, national and international awards, including a K12 award through RMSTP, the AAP’s Early Career Academician Award, the Electrode Store Best Paper Award, UPMC’s Teacher of the Year Award, International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Biology Prize Award, the PASSOR Legacy Award and more, and has been an invited participant in NIH and National Academy of Medicine workshops and symposia.

Dr. Sowa is joined by seven newly elected members of the AAP’s Board of Trustees.

  • Christopher Visco, MD was elected as the Secretary and Treasurer on the AAP’s Board of Trustees for 2021-2023. Dr. Visco is the PM&R Residency Program Director, Vice Chair of Education and Sports Medicine Fellowship Director at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University.
  • Pablo Celnik, MD, PhD, Chair and Professor of PM&R at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was elected as a Member-at-Large.
  • Michael Lee, MD, MHA, Chair and Professor of PM&R at Baylor College of Medicine, was elected as a Member-at-Large.
  • Monica-Verduzco-Gutierrez, MD, Chair and Professor of PM&R at UT Health San Antonio, was elected as Chair of the new Diversity & Community Engagement Committee.
  • Danielle Powell, MD, Interim Chair and Associate Professor of PM&R at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was elected as a Member-at-Large.
  • Preeti Raghavan, MD, the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of PM&R at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was elected as a Member-at-Large.
  • Richard Wilson, MD, MS, Vice Chair and Associate Professor of PM&R and Division Director of Neurological Rehabilitation at Case Western Reserve University/ MetroHealth Medical Center, was elected as a Member-at-Large.