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Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD, Elected President of the Association of Academic Physiatrists

February 18, 2021

Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhDGwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD, endowed professor and chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, has been elected president of the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP), the largest membership society for academic physiatry. Dr. Sowa will serve a two-year term focused on building resources, relationships, and the future of academic physiatry.

Dr. Sowa has been an active member of the AAP since her residency training in 2002, including serving as Chair of the Governance Committee and Research Committee. She has also served in other roles including the AAP’s Chairs Council, Women in Physiatry Task Force, Legislative Affairs Committee, Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program (RMSTP), and the Board of Trustees. She is nationally and internationally renowned for leading and mentoring diverse groups of trainees, physicians, and scientists.

At UPMC, she has served as a clinician scientist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for more than 15 years and has mentored more than 90 trainees in research and career development. She has been active in developing new models of care, assessment of patient reported outcomes, and interdisciplinary work groups to improve the quality of care provided. In particular, she has fostered collaboration between various disciplines to improve care of patients with low back pain. 

Dr. Sowa also serves as co-director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research, and medical director of UPMC Total Care - Musculoskeletal Health. 

She completed her PhD in Biochemistry and her PM&R residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University. Throughout her career, she has authored and co-authored over 100 original research publications and 40 book chapters and reviews and given over 200 national presentations and numerous lectureships. 

She has received over 20 local, national, and international awards, including a K12 award through RMSTP, the AAP’s Early Career Academician Award, the Electrode Store Best Paper Award, UPMC’s Teacher of the Year Award, the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Biology Prize Award, the PASSOR Legacy Award, and more. Dr. Sowa has been an invited participant in NIH and National Academy of Medicine workshops and symposia.