From the author of the GI Bill of Rights to a former Army Surgeon General, veterans have shaped the trajectory of the University of Pittsburgh — and the world. As Pitt honored those who have served this Veterans Day, the Office of Veterans Services and Archives and Special Collections highlighted veterans from the 20th and 21st centuries who have made a major difference in Pitt’s history. Three of those veterans are McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members.

Ronald Poropatich, MD

Military career: Dr. Poropatich served 30 years on active duty in the U.S. Army with extended assignments at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from 1985-2012. His last assignment was at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, serving as deputy director of the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center from 2006-12. He managed sizeable medical research programs and developed novel research and technologies in medical informatics and telemedicine. He retired in 2012 at the rank of colonel.

At Pitt: Dr. Poropatich is the current director for Pitt’s Center for Military Medicine Research and a professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine. He is also a professor of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition Science. His research interests include the role of AI in health care, telemedicine, medical informatics, and pre-hospital care in remote environments. He is the UPMC senior advisor for telemedicine and currently has more than $10 million awarded in grant funding to various projects.

Rory Cooper, PhD

Military career: Dr. Cooper enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1976. In 1980, he was serving in Germany when a bicycle accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, Dr. Cooper has used technology to positively influence the lives of veterans and others who are disabled.

At Pitt: The renowned biomedical engineer joined Pitt in 1994. He currently serves as the FISA/PVA Distinguished Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology and professor of bioengineering, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and orthopaedic surgery.

Dr. Cooper founded the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence partnership with Pitt, and has been the driving force behind innovative wheelchair designs and other assistive technology and equipment. HERL’s Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering (ELeVATE) program is working to increase the enrollment, retention, graduation, and career success of wounded, injured and ill veterans in engineering and technology.

Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored more than 300 peer-reviewed journal publications and has 20 patents awarded or pending. He is the author of two books, “Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation” and “Wheelchair Selection and Configuration,” and is co-editor of “An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering,” “Warrior Transition Leader: Medical Rehabilitation Handbook,” and the award-winning book, “Care of the Combat Amputee.”

Among many other feats, he also survived a near-fatal handcycle crash in 2019.

Bradley Nindl, PhD

Military career: Prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Nindl worked for over 20 years as a government scientist working for the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine within the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the Army Institute of Public Health within the US Army Public Health Command.

Dr. Nindl received a BS in biology from Clarkson University in 1989, a MS in physiology of exercise from Springfield College in 1993, a PhD in physiology from The Pennsylvania State University in 1999, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College in 2012. His research interests span human performance optimization/injury prevention domains with a focus on adaptations of the neuromuscular and endocrine systems (growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-I axis) to both exercise and military operational stress. Dr. Nindl is internationally recognized for his work in these areas and was co-chair of the 3rd International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance in 2014 and has performed research sabbaticals at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland (2009) and the University of Wollongong in Australia (2014).

Dr. Nindl is also an Army Reservist (LTC(P)) having been deployed in 2004-2005 in Mosul, Iraq where he was awarded a Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge.

At Pitt: Dr. Nindl is director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory/Warrior Human Performance Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. The Warrior Human Performance Research Center has a very specific focus:  Helping military members succeed. Its researchers work closely with service members in the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps to develop highly technical biological markers of injury risk as well as tools to keep troops healthy and safe during training and combat. Led by Dr. Nindl, the center has more than six studies underway at military sites across the nation. “It is an exciting time for our center, and the University of Pittsburgh plays a pivotal role in our success,” says Dr. Nindl, who serves as vice chair for research in the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “Our researchers are uniquely positioned to excel, and this is because we have all the right ingredients: a culture that drives innovation and collaboration, a world-class core of biomedical expertise, and remarkable partnerships with the United States military.”

Thank you each for your military service and continued research efforts in support of all soldiers.

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University of Pittsburgh Veterans in Focus