Research & Clinical Trials


Spaulding Stroke Research and Recovery Institute

Brain Research

The Institute provides opportunities for collaboration and coordination of research efforts, and for dissemination of study information to scientific and lay communities. It is developing a central stroke research registry to facilitate study recruitment and collect longitudinal outcome data.

The Stroke Institute maintains a registry for current and former stroke patients who are interested in participating in stroke recovery research projects at Spaulding. The information in this registry will be used by research faculty at the Stroke Institute to assist them in identifying and recruiting appropriate subjects for their research projects.  To participate in the registry patients provide their name and contact information and give permission for research faculty to review their Spaulding medical record.  This way, they can be contacted about studies appropriate to their particular medical circumstances. To join the Stroke Institute Research Registry email us today.

Ongoing studies

To learn more about any of the studies listed below, please email

  1. Electric Field Navigated 1HZ rTMS for Post-Stroke Motor Recovery Trial
    Principal Investigator: Felipe Fregni

  2. Wrist-Worn Sensors for Tele-Rehabilitation of the Hemiparetic Upper-Extremity; A Feasibility Study: Phase II
    Principal Investigator: Paolo Bonato

  3. Phase II - Bimanual Robotic Rehabilitation System with Variable Interaction Modes
    Principal Investigator: Paolo Bonato

  4. Stroke-Net - Telerehabilitation in the Home versus Therapy In-clinic for Patients with Stroke - An Assessor-blind, Randomized, Non-inferiority Trial
    Principal Investigator: Ross Zafonte 

  5. Assessment of a Physio-Neuro Platform (SynPhNe) for Home-Based Retraining of Hand Function in Stroke Survivors
    Principal Investigator: Paolo Bonato

  6. Research Registry: Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury
    Principal Investigator: Randie Black-Schaffer

  7. Retrospective Review of the Relation Between Early Clinical Measures and Rehabilitation Outcomes after Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
    Principal Investigator: Can Ozan Tan

  8. Wrist-Worn Sensors for Tele-Rehabilitation of the Hemiparetic Upper-Extremity
    Principal Investigator: Paolo Bonato

  9. The Efficacy of Lingual Strengthening Exercises for Treatment of Dysphagia in the Acute stroke Population
    Principal Investigator: Jordan Green

  10. Effects of Contralesional Repetitive Magnetic Stimulation Combined with Fluoxetine on Motor Recovery in Stroke Patients
    Principal Investigator: Felipe Fregni

  11. Assessing Usability of the BiArm Robotic Device for Upper Extremity Training
    Principal Investigator: Paolo Bonato

  12. Biomarker and Stroke Recovery
    Principal Investigator: Qing Wang

  13. Investigating New Non-Invasive Techniques for Restoring the Blink in Stroke-Related Eye Lid Paralysis
    Principal Investigator: Kevin Houston

  14. RESPONSE Trial: REmediation of SPatial NEglect Trial
    Principal Investigator: Paolo Bonato

  15. Biomarkers and Post-Stroke Fatigue
    Principal Investigator: Qing Wang

  16. Acute Ischemic Stroke and Neurovisual Deficiticts
    Principal Investigator: Ferdinando Buonanno

  17. Development of Modular Soft Exosuits for Neurorehabilitation
    Principal Investigator: Conor Walsh

Stroke Institute Monthly Meetings

The Stroke Institute holds monthly research meetings where faculty discuss their research interests and projects, with the goals of disseminating information about current lines of investigation and fostering collaboration among researchers. 



Dr. Lou Awad is an Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy in Boston University's College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, an Associate Faculty Member of Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and a Research Faculty Member of the Stroke Research and Recovery Institute at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. His research has spanned the translation continuum and has included studies focused on discovery and evaluation of novel interventions and wearable rehabilitative technology designed to restore neuromotor function after stroke. He is director of Boston University’s Neuromotor Recovery Laboratory (NRL). Research in the NRL is based on multi-modal evaluations of poststroke locomotor ability conducted before, during, and after targeted gait interventions. These evaluations span the clinical, biomechanical, and physiological domains and serve to inform the development and testing of theory-inspired and hypothesis-driven gait rehabilitation programs. A principal goal for the NRL is to support innovation in rehabilitative technologies and to leverage these advances to better the science and art of neurorehabilitation.

Marianne Beninato is Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the MGH Institute of Health Professions where she teaches in the area of gross anatomy, neuroscience and motor control in the entry level and post-professional physical therapy curricula. She earned her degree in Physical Therapy at Quinnipiac College and her PhD in anatomy with a concentration in neuroscience from the Medical College of Virginia. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in the area of neuropharmacology where she studied the interconnections between brainstem structures and the basal ganglia. She currently holds an appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital where she practices physical therapy in the area of acute care neurology.

Dr. Beninato’s research interests are in the area of psychometric measurement qualities of the clinical outcome measures commonly used in physical therapy and rehabilitation. Her research helps clinicians formulate meaningful interpretation of the test scores they generate as part of their patient examinations. She has published extensively in this area.

Randie M. Black-Schaffer, M.D.,M.A. is Director of the Stroke Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.  She also Directs of the Spaulding Stroke Research and Recovery Institute  and  is Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Black-Schaffer received her BA degree at Swarthmore College, her MA (History)  at Indiana University – Bloomington,  and MD at Indiana University School of Medicine. She started the first inpatient rehabilitation program for young adults with stroke in 1984, and founded Spaulding’s Young Adult Stroke Service in 2003.  She has lectured and published widely on topics related to  stroke in young adults and rehabilitation after stroke.  Her present focus is on  expanding the stroke recovery research program at Spaulding, and on developing clinical programming for long-term stroke survivors. 

Paolo Bonato, Ph.D., serves as Director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston MA.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA, an Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston MA, and an Associate Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Boston MA.  His research interest is focused on rehabilitation technology with special emphasis on mobile health technology and rehabilitation robotics.

Lisa Tabor Connor, PhD, MSOT, is Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at MGH Institute.  She earned her PhD in Experimental Psychology and her MS in Occupational Therapy at Washington University. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at Georgia Institute of Technology in cognitive aging and at the Boston VA Medical Center in adult communicative disorders.  Her research focuses on understanding the neural, behavioral, and psychosocial predictors of recovery and participation in people with stroke both with and without aphasia.  She is an internationally recognized speaker and has extensively published peer‐reviewed texts, articles, and book chapters. She has been a peer reviewer for many scholarly journals including Stroke; New England Journal of Medicine; Behavioural Neurology; Brain & Language; Aphasiology; American Journal of Speech‐Language Pathology; Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair; and American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.  She is an active member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM).

Susan Fasoli, ScD, OTR/L is Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.  Dr. Fasoli’s clinical background is primarily in acute care and inpatient rehabilitation settings, with an emphasis on motor performance and functional independence for adults with neurological diagnoses. She first became involved with rehabilitation robotics during her post-doctoral fellowship in the Newman Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation at MIT, and has worked closely with engineers and neuroscientists since that time on the design and implementation of robot-assisted therapy for adults and children with upper limb impairments due to stroke and cerebral palsy.

In collaboration with other researchers in the Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN) at the Providence VA Medical Center and Brown University, Dr. Fasoli has studied the use of rehabilitation technologies to evaluate and treat persons with stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Recently, she has worked with Linda Resnik, PhD PT to implement a functional MRI study for persons learning to use the state-of-the-art DEKA prosthetic arm. She is a member of the BrainGate2 team, providing an OT perspective to research that involves control of an assistive robot via brain computer interface. She has a strong interest in designing and testing research protocols that integrate rehabilitation technology with conventional OT practice, with the goal to optimize client outcomes and participation in valued activities and life roles through evidence-based practice.

Dr. Fasoli is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM). She is a section editor for Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and peer reviewer for several other professional journals. 

 Felipe Fregni, M.D., is the Director of the Laboratory of Neuromodulation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, as well as an Associate Professor of Neurology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. He is also the course director for the HMS continuing medical education course, Principles and Practice of Clinical Research, a 6-month distance learning course. It focuses on promoting collaboration and bringing clinical research education to practicing clinicians worldwide.

Joseph T. Giacino, PhD, is the Director of Rehabilitation Neuropsychology and Research Associate in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consulting neuropsychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and Adjunct Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Dr. Giacino’s clinical and research activities are centered on the development and application of novel assessment and treatment methods for individuals with severe acquired brain injury (ABI) and disorders of consciousness (DOC). He served as co-chair of the Aspen Workgroup (responsible for developing the diagnostic criteria for the minimally conscious state (MCS) and was co-lead author of the Mohonk Report, which provided recommendations to the U.S. Congress for lifelong care of patients with DOC. He currently chairs the Disorders of Consciousness Guideline Development Panel, co-sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which is charged with revising existing clinical guidelines for management of patients with DOC. He serves as co-chair of the International Traumatic Brain Injury Common Data Element Steering Committee convened by the National Institute on Neurologic Disorders and Stroke to harmonize data collection across federally-funded TBI research studies. He is currently Project Director of the Spaulding-Harvard TBI Model System funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and Co-PI of the NIH-funded Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI project which will design and test a new platform of clinical, imaging, genomic and outcome biomarkers to enable more precise TBI diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. He has served as Principal Investigator on 4 different NIDRR-funded projects- three focusing on the development of novel fMRI paradigms for detection of conscious awareness in patients with DOC, and a recently-completed 12-site clinical trial which demonstrated that amantadine hydrochloride (AH) accelerates recovery in patients with prolonged disturbance in consciousness. He was also Co-PI of an FDA-approved pilot study of deep brain stimulation aimed at restoring speech and motor functions in patients with chronic post-traumatic MCS. Regarding clinical activities, Dr. Giacino directs the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network Disorders of Consciousness Program and maintains numerous local, national and international collaborations aimed at improving care for patients with DoC. 

Jordan R. Green  Dr. Green is the director of the Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. He teaches courses on the neurologic bases of speech and swallowing and related disorders. His research focuses on advancing the assessment and treatment of speech and swallowing disorders. Dr. Green has served on multiple grant review panels at the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. He has received numerous awards for his research including an Editor’s Award from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research; and the Zemlin Lecture Award in speech science. In 2012, he was appointed as a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Eng Lo, PhD, received a BS in engineering at Yale, a PhD in biophysics from Berkeley, and completed a neuroscience fellowship at Stanford. In 1991, Dr. Lo joined the Massachusetts General Hospital where he is currently Professor of Radiology and Neuroscience at Harvard. His research interests include neuroprotection and neuroplasticity in stroke and neurodegeneration, and in vivo imaging of brain function. Dr. Lo serves on the editorial boards of Experimental Neurology, Metabolic Brain Disease, Brain Research, Cerebrovascular Disease, Translational Stroke Research, Journal of Neurotrauma, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, and Stroke. He has contributed to over 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals, chaired study sections for NIH, and serves on the scientific advisory board of the European Stroke Network. From 2003-2007, he served on the board of directors for ISCBFM, and in 2013, he co-chaired the program committee for the society’s Brain conference. In 2009, he was selected as the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator by NIH. In 2012, he was appointed as the Phyliss and Lyle Rappaport Scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2013, Dr. Lo received the Thomas Willis Award for contributions to stroke research.

Jorge L. Morales-Quezada is the Associate Research Director of the Neuromodulation Center at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he collaborates with Dr. Felipe Fregni in the field of noninvasive neuromodulation.  His major focus is the exploration of brain stimulation applied in patients with neurological disorders to promote functional recovery, and also in the development of new technologies to be used in neurological rehabilitation.

Dr. Morales-Quezada graduated from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes Medical school with post-graduate training in emergency and intensive care medicine from Centro Hospitalario de Aguascalientes. He also earned his MSc in neuropsychology and rehabilitation from Touro University (New York, USA) and his PhD in Cognitive Neurosciences from De Montfort University (Leicester, UK) with a post-doctoral fellowship in the department of neurobiology, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Neuromodulation laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Currently Dr. Morales-Quezada is a Harvard/NIH T32 fellow in integrative and complementary medicine for the study of the placebo response in pain and neurological rehabilitation.

Dr. Morales-Quezada clinical and research focus includes neurodevelopment, neurorecovery and cognitive neurosciences as well as specifically the use of psychophysiology, neuromodulation and technology development for neurorehabilitation.

Marjorie L. Nicholas, PhD, SLP-CCC is Professor and Associate Chair of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. She is also the Associate Director of the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program at MGH IHP.  She conducts research on language and cognition in aphasia and other neurogenic communication disorders.  She was one of the founders of the Aphasia Center at IHP, which currently operates as a community service for people with aphasia and as a clinical training site for graduate students. Prior to joining MGH IHP in 2001, she worked for 15 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Boston VA Medical Center and the Harold Goodglass Aphasia Research Center.

Mingming Ning, M.D  is a board certified Vascular Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She received her B.S. in Molecular Biochemistry & Biophysics from Yale University, M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine, M.Sc from Harvard Medical School, completed residency in neurology and Vascular/Neurocritical Care Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). She currently serves as the Medical Director of General Inpatient Medical Consult Service, Director of the Clinical Proteomics ResearchCenter and Co-director of the Cardio-Neurology Clinic in the MGH Department of Neurology. Dr. Ning’s clinical activities focus on neurovascular disease, with particular interest in strokes related to cardiac structural abnormalities and non-invasive monitoring of therapeutic efficacy. Her clinical research, supported by the NIH/NINDS, utilizes proteomic technology to explore various neurovascular diseases and therapeutic nterventions in order to develop novel therapy and biomarkers to improve clinical treatment. She has received awards from the American Heart Association, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and has been named among America’s Top Physicians. In addition to her clinical and research activities, Dr Ning also plays an active role in teaching and mentoring.


Judith D. Schaechter, PhD received her doctoral degree in neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and continued with postdoctoral training in the neurosciences at Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School. She then received a Master's degree in physical therapy at Boston University. Her clinical practice included the rehabilitation of stroke patients. This background led Dr. Schaechter to develop a research program housed at the MGH Athinoula A. Martinos Center devoted to understanding the neurobiological processes underlying motor recovery after clinical stroke using advanced imaging methods. These studies have led to new discoveries about functional and structural changes in the brain associated with motor recovery after stroke.  The overall aim of Dr. Schaechter’s research is to learn through neuroimaging the neurobiological rules that determine sensorimotor recovery after stroke, and to use information to develop, improve and select neurorehabilitation strategies aimed at maximizing functional recovery in stroke patients.  

Can Ozan Tan Dr. Tan received his PhD degree from Boston University in Cognitive and Neural Systems and Computational Neuroscience. He joined the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical as a post-doctoral researcher in 2007.  He is presently Instructor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Currently, Dr. Tan is pursuing a translational research path that intersects application of state-of-the-art quantitative and experimental approaches with integrated human physiology. Over the past 5 years, his research has focused on understanding the physiology of brain vasculature and regulation of brain blood flow. His recent and current explorations include the pathophysiology of brain vasculature that potentially underlies headache and cognitive impairment after traumatic brain injury; neuronal injury and brain damage after subarachnoid and intracranial hemorrhages and stroke; inactivity‐related declines in brain vascular function and consequent increase in the risk of stroke after spinal cord injury; and small vessel disease in the brain and consequent age related cognitive and motor decline.

J. Andrew Taylor, PhD, is Associate Professor in the Dept of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge.  He received his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Arizona and completed a fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at Duke University Medical Center.  He held an appointment as Research faculty in Cardiology at the Medical college of Virginia before moving to Harvard. His research program has evolved from aerobic exercise to mitigate age-related cardiovascular decline,  to estrogen replacement therapy, coronary disease and stress, chronic fatigue syndrome, and the effects of hypoglycemia and hypoxia.  More recently he has investigated the  the control of cerebral blood flow and its relationship to  traumatic brain injury as well as novel exercise approaches to prevent inactivity- related declines after spinal cord injury.

Conor Walsh is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. He founded and directs the Harvard Biodesign Lab, which brings together researchers from the engineering, industrial design, apparel, clinical and business communities to develop new disruptive robotic technologies for augmenting and restoring human performance. This research includes new approaches to the design, manufacture and control of wearable robotic devices and characterizing their performance through biomechanical and physiological studies so as to further the scientific understanding of how humans interact with such machines. Example application areas include enhancing the mobility of healthy individuals, restoring the mobility of patients with gait deficits and assisting those with upper extremity weakness to perform activities of daily living.

He is the winner of multiple awards including the MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 Award, Best Paper Award at the 2015 International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics, National Science Foundation Career Award, the Robotics Business Review Next generation Game Changer Award and the MIT 100K Entrepreneurship Competition Grand Prize. Conor received his B.A.I and B.A. degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing engineering from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, in 2003, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 and 2010.

Qing Mei Wang, M.D. obtained her PhD and MD at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and completed residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. After completing residency training in 2008 she joined the faculty at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School , where she provides inpatient/outpatient clinical care, supervises trainees, and conducts research on stroke recovery to enhance our knowledge and the quality of patient care.

Dr. Wang leads the Stroke Biological Recovery Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilation Network Research Institute of Harvard Medical School. Her research is funded by the National Institute of Health as well as intramural grants and aims to determine the molecular biological mechanisms of neuroinflammation in neurological disorders and to develop novel pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to promote recovery.

Ross Zafonte D.O. is Earle P. and Ida S. Charlton Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. He also serves as chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Senior Vice President Medical Affairs Research and Education at Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. Dr. Zafonte’s work is presently funded by the NIH, DOD and NIDRR, and he is currently directing several clinical treatment trials. His laboratory work has focused on understanding mechanisms of recovery after Brain and Spinal Cord Injury. He has published extensively on traumatic brain injuries, spasticity, and other neurological disorders, as well as presented on these topics at conferences nationally and internationally. He is the author of more than 300 peer review journal articles, abstracts and book chapters.   

Dr. Zafonte  serves on the Board of Governors for the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. In addition, he is on the editorial board of the Journal of Neurotrauma, and NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. Dr. Zafonte has received numerous awards, including the 2006 Walter Zeiter award and lectureship by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and, and the 2008 Association of Academic Physiatrists Distinguished Academician Award.

 Lauryn R. Zipse, PhD, CCC-SLIP is Assistant Professor in the MGH Institute of Health Professions Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Her research is focused on the cognitive and neurophysiological basis of neurogenic communication disorders, particularly aphasia.  Recent work has explored the prosodic and rhythmic processing abilities involved in speech planning, and the degree to which these abilities may be preserved in aphasia.

Dr. Zipse received her PhD from the Harvard-MIT HST Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program, and took courses towards clinical certification in speech-language pathology at the MGH Institute.  She went on to complete a postdoctoral and clinical fellowship at the Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before joining the Institute as a faculty member.

Find a Service

Please call for more information or to make a referral

Inpatient: 1.617.952.5350

Outpatient: 1.888.SRN.4330

Join the Spaulding Research Volunteer Registry

Your participation in research will help investigators to advance the science of neurologic recovery and develop better treatments strategies for stroke, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury

Learn More

Clinical Trials at Spaulding
RSVP for Health - Clinical Trials at Spaulding

Spaulding is part of Partners HealthCare's Clinical Research Network.  Enrollment opportunities exist across many therapeutic categories.

Learn More