Recently, leaders of the Pennsylvania National Guard awarded McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Rory Cooper, PhD, FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America Professor and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology, Professor of Bioengineering, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, and Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), and Garrett Grindle, PhD, Associate Director for Engineering at HERL and a Research Scientist at the University of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Veterans Service Award for their work protecting veterans and their caregivers during the pandemic.
In April 2020, HERL pivoted from their usual technology research and development to producing nasal swabs, face shields, and other medical supplies to meet demand during the crisis. Their work helped keep VA hospitals open and safe for workers, patients, and caregivers.
“I am extremely proud of the team at HERL,” Dr. Cooper told the VA’s Research Currents publication last spring. “They have risen to the challenge of assisting with VA’s response to COVID-19 and have performed outstandingly. The work of the team at HERL has likely helped slow the spread of the disease and has assisted VA health care providers in saving the lives of veterans.”