Endowed Scientific Chair, Arms + Hands Lab, Shirley Ryan AbilityLabTM, Chicago, IL


Shirley Ryan AbilityLab® (SRALab) formerly, The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago — a name synonymous with world-class care and breakthrough research — is taking the next step forward with its groundbreaking new hospital the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab®, an inspiring environment in which top experts, equipped with the most advanced technology and cutting-edge research, treat patients using the most progressive therapeutic interventions anywhere in the world. Physicians, therapists, nurses, scientists, innovators and technologists help patients regain and re-imagine functional independence in ways never thought possible.

SRALab is pioneering a fully “translational” model of treatment — infusing 21st-century biomedical science into clinical care in ways unlike anywhere else. As home to one of the largest rehabilitation research efforts in the world, SRALab has nearly 300 projects underway, representing an investment of more than $18 million annually, funded through governmental and private support. Scientists and clinicians collaborate with patients in real time, sharing the same space to enable application and testing (“translation”) of research during care. This integrated approach shortens the time between lab and treatment advances. In this way, it helps patients achieve better outcomes faster.

Over the past 60 years, SRALab has developed deep expertise, wisdom and compassion in caring for patients with various conditions of the arms and hands. Today, SRALab clinicians and scientists focus on the advancement of hand function and movement, body and upper-limb coordination, strength, reaching and hand control (including individual finger manipulation).

SRALab is engaged in research to optimize recovery for individuals with arm and hand function in medical conditions resulting in loss of complex hand/arm and reaching skills. Such medical conditions include brain injury, spinal cord injury and diseases of the nerves, muscles and bones. The Arms + Hands Lab is designed for patients and research subjects who would benefit from a stimulating and robust environment in pursuit of complex hand and reaching skills. The Lab will actively pursue investigational and experimental approaches which include experimental electromyography, movement analysis, kinetic analysis, biomechanics, sensor technologies, brain and/or other imaging, brain physiology, musculosketal physiology, experimental biologics, experimental pharmacotherapeutics, and use of smart devices and other emerging technologies.

Key Responsibilities

The Endowed Scientific Chair of the Arms + Hands Lab provides leadership to the scientific teams establishing the road map to realize SRALab’s Vision. The Endowed Scientific Chair will facilitate clinically meaningful research and apply state-of-the-art scientific principles that improve patient function, specifically in the areas of complex arm/hand and reaching skills. The Endowed Scientific Chair establishes research themes, provides guidance and technical expertise in collaboration with the Clinical Chairs of all Innovation Centers. The Endowed Scientific Chair is expected to create synergy among investigators and clinicians in the Arms + Hands Lab that will speed discovery and ensure clinical adoption of discoveries.

  1. Develops strong research vision encompassing innovative approach to solving problems for patients with loss of function in the arms and hands; must also be able to articulate and communicate the vision broadly. Vision must be consistent with and complementary to SRALab’s Vision, which includes the integration of science/research, where possible, within the clinical milieu.
  1. Provides leadership to Arms + Hands Lab, accountable for overall success and effectiveness of entire Lab (as well as for his/her own research pursuits).
  1. Recruits and directs productive research focused on patient problems associated with Arms + Hands Lab. This responsibility includes recruiting and overseeing success of other principal investigators and their labs in the work of applied research (includes influencing and overseeing growth of federal grant funding).
  1. Partners with Clinical Chairs to ensure that clinicians are intimately involved in defining patient needs, which will drive scientific research.
  1. Provides scientific guidance and experimental advice related to arm and hand function in medical conditions resulting in loss of complex hand/arm and reaching skills. Such medical conditions include brain injury, spinal cord injury and diseases of the nerves, muscles and bones.
  1. Oversees research of principal investigators focused on complex hand/arm and reaching skills.
  1. Partners with Clinical Chairs (of Innovation Centers) through close collaboration in order to:
  • Establish research priorities.
  • Ensure that scientifically validated innovations, including treatments and devices, are quickly adopted into clinical practice.
  • Ensure that appropriate instruments and methods are in place to measure strength and endurance.
  • Ensure that clinical innovation and practice are supported and informed by appropriate research methodology.
  • Ensure that activities of the Lab are driving real, validated improvements in patient outcomes.
  1. Remains abreast of state-of-the-art research methods used around the world in areas relevant to Arms + Hands Lab.
  1. Serves as member of the Ability Index/Outcomes “swat initiative” team responsible for driving the process, metrics, analysis and reporting; owns influence over the Ability Index domains that reflect complex hand/arm and reaching skills.
  1. Creates synergy among investigators in Arms + Hands Lab to maximize research productivity and quality.
  1. Actively participates in key research committees throughout hospital, chairing when appropriate.
  1. Liaises with all other Research Chairs to guarantee synergy and best practices throughout hospital.
  1. Recruits, hires, mentors and develops highly qualified staff with expertise in complex hand/arm and reaching skills, and who are capable of guiding research consistent with SRALab’s Vision.
  1. Provides scientific leadership to SRALab investigators in Arms + Hands Lab; mentors young researchers and integrates them into ongoing research being performed by more senior investigators.
  1. Provides operational leadership to maximize appropriate use of Lab scientific equipment and personnel.
  1. Tracks research productivity (grants, publications, laboratory space) of all SRALab investigators in Arms + Hands Lab; provides monthly research productivity reports to Chief Scientific Officer.
  1. Develops and tracks annual and long-range research budget for Arms + Hands Lab, including all relevant grant funds, endowments and philanthropic accounts.
  1. Implements leadership strategy cultivating collaborative, professional, creative work environment to stimulate inquiry, scientific method and continuous quality improvement.
  1. Advances SRALab’s academic mission by creating exciting teaching environment, maintaining strong relationships with appropriate local, national and international academic institutions and professional organizations.


Reporting Relationships

  1. Reports directly to Chief Scientific Officer, with dotted-line/matrix reporting to Chief Medical Officer.
  1. Responsible for researchers within Arms + Hands Lab.
  1. Active member of the “Ability Index Steering Council” (name TBD).
  1. Active member of “Clinical Research Integration Council” (name TBD) led by Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Medical Officer.



  1. Doctoral degree in relevant field, e.g., physiology, biomechanics, motor control, exercise physiology, biomedical engineering, neural engineering or others.
  1. University faculty appointment of Associate Professor or higher.
  1. Outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written.
  1. Minimum of ten years’ experience running and growing a large research lab or research group.
  1. Proven ability to develop and lead a large, complex, multi-dimensional team that is quality- and outcome-oriented, patient-care-service driven.
  1. Proven success competing for federal grants, such as VA, DOD, NIH and NIDRR agencies; funding level of approximately $500k-$1M/year.
  1. Substantial publication, demonstrating leadership in field, establishing credibility and engendering confidence in junior and senior scientists; publication threshold of approximately 100 research reports.
  1. Publication in relevant basic science and clinical journals such as Journal of Biomechanics, Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Journal of Hand Surgery, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Journal of Neurophysiology and Journal of Physiology (London).
  1. Proven ability in translational research, providing specific examples of basic science applied to addressing clinical problems.
  1. Experience with and knowledge of fundraising; demonstrated experience in donor cultivation activities.


Professional and Interpersonal Characteristics

  1. Established scientific leader in field relevant to Arms + Hands Lab; proven thought leader in field.
  1. Outstanding interpersonal skills, including proven ability to communicate effectively with scientists and clinicians working in fast-paced, fluid environment.
  1. Proven ability to recruit senior scientific leaders to bring their novel work/join the momentum in Arms + Hands Lab, and to support their integration and success.
  1. Proven ability to mentor both junior and senior scientists.
  1. Ability to think creatively in applying scientific principles to measurement of complex hand/arm and reaching skills, especially with respect to clinical problems.
  1. Affinity for and/or experience with human-subject research.
  1. Comfortable operating in clinical environment, including demonstrated professionalism, environment-specific vocabulary and patient management.
  1. Demonstrated leadership in medical research programs that include both basic scientists and physicians.
  1. Willingness and ability to fulfill SRALab Vision of fully integrating scientific and medical disciplines.
  1. Current knowledge of all state-of-the-art research methods and approaches relevant to Arms + Hands Lab.

Please direct all nominations and curriculum vitaes to Kristin Koppen or Kathy Jordan via email to  [email protected] or by phone at 866.750.7231, Attention: Job Code SRALab A+H.

SRALab is an Affirmative Action-Equal Opportunity Employer. Applicants are considered for all positions, and employees are treated during employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, marital or veteran status, the presence of a non-job-related medical condition, disability, sexual orientation or any other legally protected status to the extent required by law. 

SRALab embraces diversity in its work force.


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