Robert Motl, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Director of UAB Exercise Neuroscience Lab, receives funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to train promising rehabilitation professionals to conduct MS research. The “Training in Physical Activity Promotion for Multiple Sclerosis” mentor-based postdoctoral fellowship is funded at $485,553 over the next five years.

Motl will train rehab professionals on conducting carefully controlled research studies with relevance for improving symptoms, function, and quality of life in MS.

“Our postdoc trainees will learn the design of behavioral interventions that can be delivered in-person or through other channels – such as web-based or telehealth – to yield immediate and long-term physical activity behavior change among populations with MS,” said Motl. “This will be supplemented by training in methods of quantifying physical activity and its outcomes and theories of behavioral change and determinants of physical activity.”

The training will position the postdoctoral fellows to continue research after finishing the program. There is substantial evidence for the benefits of engaging in physical activity among persons with MS, yet participation in health-promoting physical activity remains low.

“This award has supported the training of five fellows over the past five years, and those fellows have received tenure-track faculty positions within research intensive universities,” said Motl. “The next five years will see an equal track record of success, and stimulate the future workforce for changing the face of MS through physical activity promotion.”

Motl serves on the National MS Society’s Research Program Advisory Committee and Health and Wellness Committee, and is the former chair of the Society’s Committee on Patient Management, Care, and Rehabilitation. Motl further serves as an Associate Director of the UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative and University Center for Exercise Medicine, and is a member of the Executive Committee for the UAB MS Center.