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Specific Aims of the Research Collaborative

  1. Reduce ableism on the UAB campus and across the nation in research, training and education.
  2. Leverage data-driven research and a diverse range of expertise to pinpoint and address the most pressing health needs among individuals with disabilities.
  3. Tailor personalized programs and resources to effectively mitigate these issues.
  4. Establish an interdisciplinary inclusion science approach to addressing important health issues in people with disabilities including researchers in exercise physiology, nutrition, engineering, physical and occupational therapy, health care, medicine, nursing, biostatistics, public health and psychology.
  5. Train future undergraduate and graduate students in the health professions in understanding and addressing important health disparities and appropriate evidence-based health promotion/rehabilitation interventions for children, adults and seniors with disabilities.
  6. Involve state disability and health programs and other community and industry partners in the development, implementation and evaluation of community-based public health research projects.
  7. Translate evidence-based practices and interventions for practical implementation in real-world scenarios to enhance the inclusion of people with disabilities.

About the Director

James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., is Director of the School of Health Professions Research Collaborative and the first Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences in the UAB School of Health Professions. For over 40 years, he has been developing and directing health promotion programs for people with disabilities. He started teaching wellness classes to college students at Manhattan College in the Bronx in 1981 and has had a lifelong passion for using all forms of wellness (mental, physical and spiritual) to improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

Since 1997, Dr. Rimmer has provided leadership in the development of interdisciplinary research programs in disability, physical activity and health promotion, first at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1997-2011), and now at UAB (2012-present). He is also director of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), which has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since 1999, as well as the Center for Engagement in Disability Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (CEDHARS).

Over the past decade, Dr. Rimmer has received grant funding from four different federal agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH), Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Organizations at the UAB Research Collaborative


Since 1999, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) has been a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded center on promoting health for people with disabilities. In 2012, NCHPAD moved from the University of Illinois at Chicago to UAB, expanding our scope of practice to include health in the name. Our most recent cycle of funding, which began in 2021, has had a major focus on building a healthcare-to-wellness (H2W) and rehab-to-wellness (R2W) network that partners with healthcare systems on a national scale to reach a greater number of people with disabilities into our registry, called NCHPAD Connect. This allows us to deliver our online wellness programs and personalized resources to people with disabilities across the United States.


The primary mission of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Recreational Technologies (RERC RecTech) is to expand knowledge on recreation technology for people with disabilities, disseminate developments through publication, education and training, and collaborate with private sectors to make adaptive recreation technology available.


The Center for Engagement in Disability Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (CEDHARS) is an interdisciplinary center whose core mission is the engagement of people with disabilities in every area of research on the UAB campus. CEDHARS is comprised of approximately 125 faculty affiliates from eight different schools and many departments at UAB.

In addition to faculty and research, a major part of CEDHARS is the Adaptive Human Performance Lab (APHL). The AHPL provides exercise, nutrition and physical activity along with health testing and interventions for research to improve the physical and psychological well-being for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Many research teams across the Collaborative use the AHPL for projects, and research studies vary in scope from small student capstone projects and pilot studies to large multi-year studies and long-term interventions. Daily activities can range from virtual reality and adapted video games to body composition scans and blood drawing for biomarkers. Testing and interventions are conducted both in-person in the Lab but also remotely through Zoom or other virtual applications.