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Bryan Heiderscheit, Ph.D., PT, FAPTA Named Vice Chair for Research

Madison, Wis. – In January 2022, Frederick Gaenslen Professor of Orthopedics Bryan C. Heiderscheit, Ph.D., PT, FAPTA was named Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In addition to this new position, Dr. Heiderscheit holds appointments as Director of Research for Badger Athletic Performance, Co-Director of the UW-Madison Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab, as well as Physical Therapist for the UW Badgers. He is also an affiliate faculty member of the Graduate Program in Clinical Investigation, Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UW-Madison. Dr. Heiderscheit is internationally recognized for his leadership and innovative research aimed at understanding and enhancing the clinical management of orthopedic conditions, with a focus on sports-related injuries.

A highly accomplished researcher throughout his nearly two decades at UW-Madison, Dr. Heiderscheit comes to his new role with a perspective he adopted early in his career when he set out to “develop an impactful research program within a leading research institution, while at the same time, maintaining a clinical practice and mentoring students.”

This multi-pronged approach grew out of Dr. Heiderscheit’s strongly held belief that each role feeds into the others.

“So much of [how we have benefited patients] has come from those discoveries we made through the research program. And on the other side, many patient interactions have led to an idea that spurred a line of research. It is one hundred percent symbiotic.”

Dr. Heiderscheit began his career as a physical therapist. His experience as a clinician, coupled with the research he conducted and published as an undergraduate, led him to pursue his Ph.D. in Biomechanics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Upon joining the UW-Madison Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in 2003, three years after completing his Ph.D., Dr. Heiderscheit quickly put his multidisciplinary tenet into practice by establishing the UW Health Sports Medicine Runners’ Clinic. A program designed to connect patient care with research, this novel initiative evaluates the running mechanics of patients who experience a running-related injury while applying best-practice treatments, many of which were developed by the clinic’s researchers.

“We’ve come up with several simple strategies that can be implemented in routine clinic practice and have a significant impact on our patients’ ability to run pain-free.”

Since creating the Runners’ Clinic, Dr. Heiderscheit has earned widespread recognition, giving over one hundred talks at organizations all over the world on how to implement this program. Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Washington University are among the many institutions that have adopted this model and received assistance from Dr. Heiderscheit and his team in launching the program.

In 2009, Dr. Heiderscheit began working with University of Wisconsin Athletics to develop yet another novel program – Badger Athletic Performance (BAP).

“Our idea was to create a collaborative program that integrates the athletics and academic arms of the University – tearing down the wall that so commonly exists between the two.”

With the full support of University of Wisconsin Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Department Chair, Dr. Thomas Zdeblick, the Division of Sports Medicine, and UW Athletics, Dr. Heiderscheit worked closely with Denny Helwig, former Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine, now retired, to establish a joint venture housed in Athletics that is one of a few of its kind in the nation.

“More than just a lab, our program is designed around the needs of our student-athletes and integrates science, training, and injury management. We do so in a very rigorous manner, which allows us to systematically study key issues and advance the overall field. As a result, our work not only has an immediate benefit to our student-athletes but also any active population beyond our campus.”

Today, BAP has grown to include over 10 principal investigators, who contribute their expertise and resources from their own labs into the program operations.

In addition to leading these innovative programs, Dr. Heiderscheit is nationally known for his work in other areas of orthopedic research, including hamstring injury management. Dr. Heiderscheit and colleagues were recently awarded a four-year, $4 million grant by the NFL to advance research in this area. He also serves on the NFL’s Soft Tissue Injury Task Force on reducing muscle-tendon injuries, with hamstring injuries being one of the priorities.

The success of Dr. Heiderscheit’s research program is due in large part to his research team. He is a mentor to undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral trainees, as well as young investigators pursuing clinical research. Many have gone on to attain tenure track faculty positions, with some earning global scientific scholarship recognition.

A prolific author and presenter, Dr. Heiderscheit’s scholarly publications include over 130 peer-reviewed articles, multiple book chapters, editorials, and other publications. He has presented 216 abstracts or proceedings, and over 240 invited lectures and symposium events. Dr. Heiderscheit serves as a Senior Editor of the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, the flagship journal for the orthopedic and sports physical therapy profession.

Dr. Heiderscheit has received over 50 honors and awards, is a member of nine professional associations, and currently serves as Research Chair of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy.

As Vice Chair for Research, Dr. Heiderscheit will work with Dr. Zdeblick and Dr. Tamara Scerpella to oversee the research mission of the department. Dr. Heiderscheit stated that their goal will be “to expand faculty research opportunities and resources while facilitating collaborations both within and outside of the department. We know that a robust research infrastructure will enable our talented clinicians and scientists to bring their ideas to light.”

“Dr. Heiderscheit has shown a tremendous ability to focus research on clinically meaningful topics,” noted Dr. Zdeblick. “His accomplishments reflect his optimistic ‘can do’ attitude, which he is now imparting to our entire research program. His leadership skills will help the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation continue to build on our national reputation as a leader in cutting-edge, musculoskeletal developments.”


May 9, 2022