Deborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM
VP of Research and Innovation
Deborah Backus is a grant-funded researcher, physical therapist and educator with more than 35 years of experience in the neurorehabilitation field. In addition to serving as vice president of research and innovation at Shepherd Center, she is the director of the Virginia C. Crawford Research Institute and director of multiple sclerosis (MS) research.
At Shepherd Center and within the rehabilitation medicine field, Dr. Backus is known for her innovative approaches to facilitating clinician involvement in research activities; translation of meaningful evidence into practice; the uptake of technology into clinical programs; and the incorporation of standardized outcome assessment into routine clinical practice to better guide clinical care.
Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and the National MS Society. She is currently principal investigator for one of the largest PCORI-funded exercise trials in MS evaluating the comparative effectiveness of an evidence-based exercise program delivered in a facility or in the home.
Dr. Backus received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Boston University in 1986. She earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Emory University in 2004.
In addition to serving on the GRA board, Dr. Backus is the immediate past president of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) and serves as one of the founding editors for the Archives of Rehabilitation Research & Clinical Translation. Her mission is to empower patients, students, and colleagues to achieve their greatest potential, and to advance rehabilitation science and care for people with disability due to neurological injury or disease.