Scientific Advisors

James T. Heaton

James T. Heaton

James T. Heaton received a BA degree in Psychology from Luther College (Decorah, IA) in 1990, and the MS and PhD degrees in Psychology (Neuroscience and Cognitive Science program) from the University of Maryland (College Park, MD) in 1993 and 1997, respectively.

He joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1997 in the Department of Otology and Laryngology, and he is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery.
He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at MGH Institute, where he teaches neuroanatomy/neurophysiology.

Dr. Heaton’s work in the past 2 decades have involved the development of novel surgical and research instruments, bench-top testing of excised tissues, mathematical modeling of physiological processes, development of animal models for human disease states, and investigations of laryngeal physiology and neuromuscular control of communication in human research participants.

Current Research Interests:

  • Human voice and speech physiology
  • Facial and laryngeal nerve regeneration
  • Development of improved voice prosthetic equipment
  • Creation of a speech recognition platform that uses speech-related muscle signals as an input (instead of a microphone) for healthy and dysarthric populations
  • Implantable neural prosthetic systems for facial and laryngeal reanimation after nerve palsy
Dr. Zev W. Rymer

Dr. Zev W. Rymer

Dr. Zev W. Rymer received the MBBS medical degree from Melbourne University in 1962, and completed his residency in internal medicine at Prince Henry’s Hospital/Monash University in Melbourne in 1967. He then undertook predoctoral training for his PhD in Neuroscience at Monash University, completing training in 1971. He was awarded a Fogarty Fellowship at NINDS/NIH from 1971-1974, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University from 1974-1976, respectively. He currently serves as the director of the Singe Motor Unit Laboratory at the AbilityLab (RIC), Chicago.

In the four decades Dr. Rymer’s lab has been in the fore front of research and clinical work surrounding motor disorders in patients with stroke and spinal cord injury. In brief, these studies include analyses of changes in control signals arising from damaged brain areas using electrophysiological and imaging methods, recordings of altered motor unit discharge patterns to explore origins of muscular weakness and spasticity, and mechanical measurements of altered forces and torque patterns generated by muscles in the impaired limbs.

Current Research focus:

  • Pathophysiogy of motor-associated injuries: stroke, spinal cord injury and spinal circuits, neural signal processing.
Prof. Jim Richards

Prof. Jim Richards

Jim Richards received a BEng (Hons) degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Plymouth (England) in 1991, an MSc in Bioengineering from Strathclyde University (Scotland) in 1992 and a PhD in Biomechanics of Rehabilitation from Glasgow Caledonian University (Scotland) in 1998.

He was appointed Professor in Biomechanics and Research Lead for the Allied Health Research unit at University of Central Lancashire in 2004. He holds International Professorial Chair positions in Italy, Portugal, Czech Republic, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil, and Honorary Fellowships at several UK Hospitals.

Professor Richards’ work includes the clinical application of biomechanics, the development of new assessment tools for chronic disease, and the conservative and surgical management of orthopaedic and neurological conditions. The focus of Professor Richards work is the development of evidence based approaches for improving patient care with a particular focus on neuromuscular control, and to encourage inter-professional research and to develop direct parallels with research to the ‘real world’ of allied health work.

Current Research Interests:

  • Clinical biomechanics
  • Development of objective clinical assessments of neuromuscular control
  • Effects of mechanical and proprioceptive interventions in orthopaedic conditions
  • Assessment of Quality of Movement in neurological conditions
  • Identification of responders and non-responders and clinical subgroups.

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