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Publish Date: 07/10/14
Media Contact: Katy Cosse, 513-556-2635
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Focus On Research with Pierce Boyne, DPT

Focus On highlights faculty, staff, students and researchers at the UC Academic Health Center. To suggest someone to be featured, please email

Pierce Boyne, DPT, is a physical therapist and a visiting instructor in the College of Allied Health Sciences’ Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. 

After graduating from UC’s Doctorate in Physical Therapy program in 2010, he stayed on faculty to pursue research in the lab of associate professor Kari Dunning, PhD.

This summer, Boyne received funding by the national Foundation for Physical Therapy to support his research—one of only 16 physical therapists in the country to receive the foundations "Promotion of Doctoral Studies” (PODS) I & II Scholarships.

As part of his PODS scholarship, Boyne was award the 2014 Scot C. Irwin Award, for displaying outstanding merit within a PODS application focusing on post-professional studies within cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation. 

What brought you to UC—and what made you want to stay after graduation to serve as faculty? 
"After high school, I knew I wanted to be a physical therapist, so I chose the best school in the area with a physical therapy program. When I was in the undergraduate health sciences program at UC, my father –in-law was in a car accident and had a spinal cord injury. As one of his caregivers, I learned a lot about rehabilitation from neurologic injury and became driven to find new ways to improve recovery.

"In my junior year I met Kari Dunning, PhD, who has been an amazing mentor ever since. Her research focus in stroke rehabilitation matched my interests, so after graduating with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, I continued to work with her on research as a physical therapist at the Drake Center. Taking a faculty position at UC has allowed me to put more effort into research, identifying new ways to improve recovery from neurologic injury. It has also allowed me to begin teaching and mentoring students, which is very rewarding.”

What are your research interests?
"I am focused on the problem of aerobic deconditioning among people who have had a stroke. Weakness caused by stroke makes movement more inefficient and energy costly, so people often become very sedentary, which causes a rapid decline in cardiovascular health.

"My PhD research will include a survey of U.S. physical therapists to determine utilization and barriers to aerobic exercise prescription among patients with stroke, an epidemiologic study to determine the effectiveness of aerobic exercise for preventing future cardiovascular events, and clinical studies testing the effectiveness of novel interventions for addressing post-stroke deconditioning.

"By adapting intensive exercise strategies that have been shown to be highly effective for healthy adults and people with heart disease, we may be able to elicit greater improvements in movement recovery and cardiovascular health after stroke.”

What does it mean to you to receive the PODS award?
"I felt extremely grateful and honored! The review committee includes influential leaders in the field of physical therapy and they recognized my dedication, the strength and commitment of my mentors and the impressive research environment at UC.” 

What do you like to do outside your work?
"I spend most of my free time with my wife and kids. We like swimming, walking on nature trails and playing video games. We just got back from a trip to New Hampshire where we hiked in the White Mountains. My daughter, who loves baseball, also got to see the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park.”

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