Snyder-Mackler wins Francis Alison Award, UD's top faculty honor
Lynn Snyder-Mackler, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy, is the 2009 recipient of the University of Delaware's Francis Alison Faculty Award, the University's highest competitive faculty honor.
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8:06 a.m., May 11, 2009----Lynn Snyder-Mackler, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Physical Therapy, is the 2009 recipient of the Francis Alison Faculty Award -- the University of Delaware's highest faculty honor.

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Established by the Board of Trustees in 1978, the award consists of a $10,000 prize and confers membership in the Alison Society. Snyder-Mackler is the first faculty member in the College of Health Sciences to win the honor and the third woman among the 29 recipients of the award to date.

The Alison Award is bestowed annually to the faculty member who best characterizes “the scholar-schoolmaster,” as exemplified by the Rev. Dr. Francis Alison, who in 1743, founded the institution that is now the University of Delaware. His first class of students became distinguished statesmen, doctors, merchants, and scholars. Three signed the Declaration of Independence and one signed the U.S. Constitution.

“Lynn Snyder-Mackler is a distinguished scholar and teacher whose expertise in physical therapy and orthopedic rehabilitation is recognized internationally,” said University Provost Dan Rich. “Since she joined the University of Delaware faculty in 1989, she has made significant contributions in research, teaching, and public service that have earned the respect of her colleagues in the academy, the appreciation of her students, and the gratitude of her clinical patients.”

Snyder-Mackler said she was thrilled to receive the award.

“It's a huge honor, and I'm humbled,” she said. “I really like the roles of 'scholar-schoolmaster.' The research and teaching that you do, and your interaction with patients in a clinical setting, always bring up more questions, which lead you to new lines of inquiry. The process is so much fun, and my students and colleagues are great. I love it all.”

Snyder-Mackler is an international leader in the field of orthopedic rehabilitation research. A certified sports physical therapist and certified athletic trainer, she currently is an investigator on more than $6 million in research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and several foundations.

She also is the recipient of numerous awards from the American Physical Therapy Association, which named her a Catherine Worthingham Fellow, the highest honor in the profession, in 2003.

Her studies focus on knee, shoulder, and spine rehabilitation and neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Currently, she is developing rehabilitation programs to enhance the recovery of muscle strength and function in older patients with osteoarthritis following total knee replacement surgery. Nearly a half-million knee replacements are performed in the United States every year.

She also is working on a non-surgical approach to rehabilitating torn anterior cruciate ligaments in selected patients.

A prolific author, Snyder-Mackler has written more than 100 research articles, 30 book chapters and monographs, and textbooks on electrotherapy and sports physical therapy. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, and Physical Therapy in Sport and has given more than 165 presentations on her research in the U.S. and 12 foreign countries.

Her study results also have been reported by The New York Times, USA Today, United Press International, and other major media.

Numerous individuals provided letters of support on behalf of Snyder-Mackler's nomination for the award.

“In the world of musculoskeletal sports medicine, very few female scientists have established themselves on a worldwide basis,” said Lars Engebretsen, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Oslo, head of research for the International Olympic Committee, and chief physician for the Norwegian Olympic Committee. “Snyder-Mackler is one of the few collaborating with groups around the world and being invited as a frequent speaker to conferences around the globe.”

Stuart Binder-MacLeod, Edward L. Ratledge Professor of Physical Therapy and chairperson of the department, describes Snyder-Mackler as a “premier researcher” and credits her with bringing national and international recognition to the University.

“Most important, however, is the impact that her work is making to improve the lives of our patients,” Binder-MacLeod said. “Her findings have helped to hasten the rehabilitation and improve the quality of life of countless individuals.”

In addition to maintaining an active research program, Snyder-Mackler serves as the academic director of the graduate program in Biomechanics and Movement Sciences (BIOMS) and directs both the Physical Therapy Clinic and the Sports Physical Therapy Residency. She also teaches graduate courses on physical therapy evaluation techniques, musculoskeletal evaluation and treatment, and clinical rounds.

“The need for evidence-based approaches to the physical therapy management of sport and related injuries and conditions demands a growing cadre of well-trained scientists who can compete at the national level,” said Alan Jette, director of the Health and Disability Research Institute at Boston University.

“Professor Snyder-Mackler is making major contributions to increasing the capacity within physical therapy and more broadly through sports medicine through the mentorship she provides to her students. Through this work, her impact will be felt decades from now,” he noted.

Snyder-Mackler has been a staunch advocate for interdisciplinary research and education. Under her guidance, UD's BIOMS graduate program has been ranked among the top programs in the nation and continues to grow, encompassing a broad array of research disciplines and clinical specialties.

“Education at the University of Delaware will be forever changed by Dr. Snyder-Mackler's influence,” said Steven Stanhope, interim dean in the College of Health Sciences. “Graduate students in technical and clinical fields now readily create multidisciplinary advisor committees consisting of physiologists, biomechanists, engineers, physicians, and therapists.”

The recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Advising and Mentoring Award in 2004, Snyder-Mackler has advised 12 doctoral graduates who have gone on to leadership positions in academic institutions, hospitals, and clinics across the U.S. She currently is advising six more doctoral and two master's students.

Glenn Williams, who earned his doctorate working with Snyder-Mackler, pointed out what a positive influence she has been on his education and career success. He is an assistant professor and director of research at the University of Iowa Sports Medicine Center.

“She is truly a shining star that is seen around the world, but centered over Newark, Delaware,” he noted.

Article by Tracey Bryant
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson