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Scott Crawford, PhD, receives ICTR KL2 Scholar Award

May 30, 2023 – Scott Crawford, PhD, an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin Departments of Kinesiology at the School of Education and Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the School of Medicine and Public Health, was recently awarded a KL2 Scholar Program grant; he will officially begin the program in July 2023. Funded by the NIH through the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), the KL2 Scholar Program supports “junior faculty at UW Madison pursuing and actively engaged in translational research and who are committed to developing an independent research program.” Crawford’s KL2 grant will provide him with two years of protected time for research and career development training – allowing him to delve into novel ideas and emerge as a leader in the field.

His current research project, “Neuroplasticity in Muscle Mechanics Following Hamstring Injury: A Combined fMRI and Ultrasound Study,” will investigate the neural changes that occur after hamstring injuries. Crawford says that, while we have gotten good at diagnosing and identifying the progression of hamstring injuries and returning athletes to their sport, “re-injury rates are still very high.” Most studies show as high as 1 in 3 will go on to re-injure – though some show re-injuries as high as 60% or more.

By examining muscle tissue mechanics using ultrasound and brain activity using fMRI, Crawford hopes to uncover if altered brain activity following a recent hamstring strain injury may be related to why re-injury rates for hamstring strains remain high, despite advancements in rehabilitation protocols. The study is still in the piloting stage, where Dr. Crawford and his team are refining their methodology before enrolling participants.

Before coming to UW, Dr. Crawford earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cedarville University in Ohio and his Master’s and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University. He joined the UW as an NIH-funded TL1 Post-Doctoral Trainee under Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit in January 2019 – later transitioning to a faculty position in the Kinesiology Department with a joint appointment in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in August 2022.

Dr. Crawford’s educational background in biomedical engineering and biomechanics and his work in the Badger Athletics Performance Lab shaped his interdisciplinary approach to studying sport-related muscle injury. Further, as Dr. Crawford pursues the focused study afforded by his KL2 grant, he says that the symbiotic relationship between research investigators across different academic departments, clinicians, and surgeons at UW allows him to “collaborate with people like Dr. Heiderscheit, [the Badger Athletics Performance Program], and other orthopedic faculty members” and find “common ground” that will ultimately translate research findings into impactful treatments for patients.