Skip to main content


Adapt To The Demands Of The Future

Ranked 9th in Public Universities for NIH funding

The Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation is actively involved in many research endeavors to maximize health and physical function. We are exploring all types of therapies including complementary and integrative methodologies. The Department is home to the Program on Integrative Medicine (PIM), which conducts research in complementary and integrative medicine. PIM is the administrative home of the T-32 Research Fellowship in Complementary and Integrative Healthcare and multiple NIH grants.

Ongoing Research


Clinical Trials and Intervention Development


OPTIMUM: Group-based mindfulness for patients with chronic low back pain in the primary care setting
Illustration of human torso with spotlight on lower backDates of Study (Funder) :9/01/2020-03/31/2025 (NIH/NCCIH)
Description: OPTIMUM is a pragmatic randomized clinical trial comparing mindfulness delivered in an integrative medicine group visit with usual care for individuals attending primary care clinics. The three participating sites include Boston Medical Center, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and UNC with Piedmont Health Services
Principal Investigator: Natalia Morone (Boston Medical Center)
PM&R Investigators: Susan Gaylord, PhD; Kim Faurot, PhD; Isabel Roth, DrPH; Jessica Barnhill, MD, MPH
Link to Research for Me:
Link to NIH:
Study status: recruitment completed
The HARMONY Study – A culturally relevant, randomized controlled stress management intervention to reduce cardiometabolic risk in African American women.
Dates of Study (Funder): 7/29/2020- 2/28/2025 (NIH/NIMHD)
Description: To test a culturally tailored mindfulness-based diet and exercise intervention vs. a conventional diet and exercise intervention for African American Women with cardiometabolic risk.
Principal Investigator: Cheryl Woods Giscombé, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, FAAN, UNC School of Nursing
PM&R Investigators: Susan Gaylord, PhD, Kim Faurot, PhD
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Study Pages:
Study status: recruiting
Thriving Hearts: Healing-Centered, Integrated, Community Maternity Care
Dates of Study (Funder): 4/1/2024 – 3/31/2029 (PCORI)
Description: Thriving Hearts is a multilevel intervention that is designed to address historical and structural determinants that contribute to disparities in maternal health outcomes in North Carolina related to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Using a hybrid type 1 effectiveness-implementation design, Thriving Hearts will implement support and connection at the individual, healthcare provider, and community level to reduce incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and its complications.
Principal Investigator: Stuebe, Stewart (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UNC-CH)
PM&R Investigators: Jessica Barnhill, MD, MPH
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Status: planning year
Project BrEAtHe (Brothers reclaiming emotional awareness, tranquility, healing, & existence) Disrupting Racism-related Stress, Trauma, & Problematic Substance Use
Dates of Study (Funder): 9/14/2021 – 8/30/2024 (NIH/NIMHD)
Description: Project BrEAtHe is a research study to create a program focused on mindfulness and stress reduction specifically tailored to young adult Black males (18 to 29 years old) residing in Durham, NC and in Hartford, CT. We are also interested in receiving feedback about options to modify and scale a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction intervention and its preliminary effects on reducing physical and emotional stress reactions and poor coping mechanisms like marijuana and alcohol use linked to everyday racism and discrimination.
Principal Investigator: Wizdom Powell (UConn)
PM&R Investigators: Susan Gaylord, PhD
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Study status: recruitment completed
Digital health platform (DHP) to deliver Mindfulness as a Stress Management Intervention Leveraging Electronic (SMILE) health records for racial and ethnic populations during the COVID-19 pandemic: Clinical Trial
Dates of Study (Funder): 7/14/2022 – 3/30/2025 (NIH/NIMHD)
Description:The overall objective of this proposal is to investigate effectiveness and sustainability of our Digital Health Platform, to delineate MBSR mechanisms of active by measuring changes in psychological self-reported metrics and autonomic balance using HRV, and to examine associations between COVID-19 related stress and mental health outcomes, resilience, and HRV.
Principal Investigator: Susan Gaylord, Keri Heilman, Maria Davila
PM&R Investigators: Susan Gaylord, PhD; Kim Faurot, PhD
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
More information: Coming soon
Privacy Policy: Link to App Privacy Policy
Study status: recruitment pending
Self-Compassion for Children and Caregiver
Dates of Study (Funder): (Mind and Life Foundation)
Description:Self-Compassion for Children and Caregivers study, funded by the Mind & Life Foundation, is a collaboration with researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison. This study aims to explore the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary outcomes of an online, group-based self-compassion course for children ages 8-11 with anxiety and/or depressive symptoms and their caregivers.
Principal Investigator:
PM&R Investigators: Christine Lathren, MD, MSPH
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Study status:
Developing and Piloting a Tailored Self-Compassion Program to Enhance the Well-Being of Informal Caregivers of Children with Physical Disabilities
Dates of Study (Funder): UNC PM&R
Developing and Piloting a Tailored Self-Compassion Program to Enhance the Well-Being of Informal Caregivers of Children with Physical Disabilities is a study funded by an Innovations Grant provided by the Fitch Family Foundation through the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. This study gathers feedback from multi-level stakeholders to co-develop a resiliency and self-compassion based program to meet the needs of caregivers of children with physical disabilities. The co-developed program will then be examined for feasibility, acceptability and preliminary outcomes in a cohort of caregivers.
PM&R Investigator: Christine Lathren, MD, MSPH
Link to Research for Me: (not active)

Observational studies

A personalized, community-based rehabilitation sensing system to improve daily functions of stroke survivors
Dates of Study: 9/1/2022- 8/31/2027
Description: The objective of this project is to develop a personalized community-based rehabilitation sensing system to improve daily functions of these individuals. The system will include three essential components: a nanomaterial-enabled multimodal wearable sensor network to monitor arm and leg functional activities; a low-power data acquisition, processing, and transmission protocol; and a smart phone APP to communicate training outcomes to the users and clinicians via internet and receive feedback from them.
Principal Investigator: Franz (Biomedical Engineering)
PM&R Investigator: JM Baratta, MD
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Study status: recruiting soon
Risk Stratification in Children with Concussion
Dates of Study (Funder): 5/2023 – (NIH/NINDS)
Description: This is an observational study designed to evaluate how children recover after a concussion in terms of post-concussion symptoms and fatigue. The study will also assess inflammatory biomarkers assessed in saliva and impacts on thinking, school, and relationships.
Principal Investigator: Karin Reuter-Rice (Duke University)
PM&R Investigator: Peter Duquette, PhD
Link to Research for Me:(not active)
Study status: recruiting
Wheelchair Charging and Mobile Power Solutions (CHAMPS)
Sign illustrating charging station for wheel chair batteryDates of Study (Funder): 9/1/2022 – 3/31/2024 (NIDILRR)
Description: The purpose of this research study is to see what the charging and power needs are for people who use power mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and scooters. Specifically, this research study hopes to find out how community-based battery charging stations could help users of power mobility devices. The study team will conduct focus groups and usability testing to gather feedback on the design, location and use of these charging stations in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities.
Principal Investigator: Pantic (NC State, School of Engineering)
PM&R Investigators: William Filer, MD; Kim Faurot, PhD; Jessica Barnhill, MD, MPH
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Status: recruiting for final usability test
Esports eye fatigue and vision performancePhoto of gaming station monitor and chair
Dates of Study (Funder): November 2023-2024 (Department)
Description: This is a study to assess the degree of eye fatigue and its effect on eSport performance in an observational study of competitive eSports players.
Principal Investigator: Katie Bartolo, MD (PM&R)
Link to Research for Me: (not active)

Implementation Research and translational science

Scaling-Up Integrative Pain Management in Federally-Qualified Health Centers
Dates of Study:
In this study, the investigators test strategies to implement Integrative Medical Group Visit (IMGV) in Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), including training and coaching clinic staff, and measure the effectiveness of the IMGV on health outcomes for patients with chronic pain.
Principal Investigator:
Isabel Roth, DrPH
Link to Research for Me:(not active)

Recently completed research

Easing the Burden of Dementia Caregiving: A Telephone-delivered Mindfulness Intervention for Rural, African American Families
Dates of Study:2/1/2019-6/30/2022
The Mindful Coping and Communication in Caregiving (MC3) study designed and tested a telephone-based mindfulness training program for pairs of family caregivers of people living with dementia.
Principal Investigator:
Susan Gaylord,Sharon Williams, Kim Faurot, PhD, Co-I
Link to Research for Me: (not active)
Targeted Alteration of Dietary Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Headache, funded by the Department of Defense through the Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine
Dates of Study:4/1/2016 – 9/30/2022
The Nutrition for Post-traumatic Headache study was a multi-site randomized controlled trial comparing two diets designed to reduce post-traumatic headaches among service members and their dependents.
Principal Investigator:
Kim Faurot, PhD UNC Site PI, Data manager
Link to Research for Me: (not active)

Link to 2023 Research Roundup

Partnering Organizations

Joint Department of Biomedical engineering, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State
NC TraCS Institute

UNC SOM Allied Health Sciences