Michael Boninger MD
Vice Chair for Research

Michael Boninger, MD is a tenured professor and UPMC endowed vice chair for research in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. He is senior medical director for Post-Acute Care for the Health Service Division of UPMC and vice president for Medical Affairs for Community Provider Services. Dr. Boninger holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering, Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology, Clinical Translational Science Institute, and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. He is also a physician researcher for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Boninger holds 4 United States patents and has received numerous honors, including being inducted into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science. He has mentored over 100 students, ranging from undergraduates to medical students, and doctoral and postdoctoral trainees since joining the department in 1994. His students have won over 50 national awards.


Specialized Areas of Interest
Assistive technology, biomechanics, neuroprosthetics, spinal cord injury, wheelchairs, regenerative medicine, teaching research.

Board Certifications
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Education & Training
BS, Mechanical Engineering, Ohio State University, 1985
MD, Ohio State University College of Medicine, 1989
PM&R Residency, University of Michigan Medical Center, 1993
Research Fellowship, Engineering and Rehabilitation Technology, University of Pittsburgh

Honors and Awards
Distinguished Academician Award, Association of Academic Physiatrists 2016
ACRM John Stanley Coulter Lecturer Award, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, 2015
President of the Association of Academic Physiatrists, 2013
Breakthrough Award for Brain Computer Interface Research Popular Mechanics,2012
Elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), 2012
Distinguished Mentor Award Institute for Clinical Research Education, University of Pittsburgh, 2012
A. Estin Comarr Award for Distinguished Clinical Service Academy of Spinal Cord Professionals, 2011
College of Fellows, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), 2003
Winner Pittsburgh Business Times Health Care Heroes Award for Innovation and Research, 2002
Young Academician Award, Association of Academic Physiatrists, 1998

Research Activities
Dr. Boninger‚ÄĚs central research focus is on enabling increased function and participation for individuals with disabilities through development and application of assistive, rehabilitative and regenerative technologies. Dr. Boninger is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury, a National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) Center of Excellence, he is also PI or Co-PI on several projects funded by DARPA and NIH

Dr. Boninger also has extensive experience and publications related to training researchers. He is co-director and PI for the Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program (RMSTP), which is an NIH funded grant that provides funds for clinician researchers across the country. Dr. Boninger is also PI on the Alliance for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research and Training (AR3T). This NIH funded national center is charged with elevating the science of regenerative rehabilitation. Dr. Boninger has an extensive publication record of over 20 book chapters and over 220 published papers.

Professional Organization Membership
Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
American Spinal Cord Injury Association
Association of Academic Physiatrists
National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine)
International Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Medicine

Selected Publications
Wheelchair Skills Capacity and Performance of Manual Wheelchair Users with Spinal Cord Injury. Kirby RL, Worobey LA, Cowan R, Pedersen JP, Heinemann AW, Dyson-Hudson TA, Shea M, Smith C, Rushton PW, Boninger ML. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Jun 15. pii: S0003-9993(16)30242-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.05.015. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27317867

Type and Frequency of Reported Wheelchair Repairs and Related Adverse Consequences Among People With Spinal Cord Injury. Toro ML, Worobey L, Boninger ML, Cooper RA, Pearlman J. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 May 3. pii: S0003-9993(16)30085-5. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.03.032. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27153763

Processes and Outcomes from a Medical Student Research Training Program in Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine. Dicianno BE, Glick RM, Sowa GA, Boninger ML. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Apr 15. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27088478

Dr. Boninger's publications on PubMed

UPMC OnTopic Discussions
"Rehabilitation: Recovery Each Step of the Way."
Dr. Mike Boninger talks about the most comprehensive rehabilitation network in the region.

"What Makes a High Quality Rehabilitation Program?"

"Paralyzed Man Moves Robotic Arm"