P. Hunter Peckham '66 Awarded Clarkson University Honorary Degree

May 11, 2024

P. Hunter Peckham '66, co-director of the MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's spring 2024 Commencement on Saturday, May 11.

Hunter Peckham stands at a podium in regalia as he speaks to an audience not pictured.

The degree was awarded for "his lifelong commitment to innovative rehabilitation research that has greatly benefited civilians and veterans with spinal cord injuries, for his significant contributions to national rehabilitation research policy, and for his exceptional leadership of the biomedical and rehabilitation engineering community.

Peckham spoke about his time at Clarkson, the struggles he faced early on, his drive to overcome them, and his wonderment about the future as he sat where the 2024 graduates were now seated. His journey included deviations from his intended path, and his message to students was to embrace uncertainty, and pursue a path that truly excites them.

“Think back to when you first arrived at Clarkson—has every semester panned out precisely as planned? Or did you find yourself someplace entirely unexpected? Do you find yourself grateful for the experiences—good and bad—that brought you to this arena?” Peckham asked of the students. “Rest assured, you will encounter uncertainty again and again throughout your lives. As uncomfortable as they may be in the moment, I have found that surprises often lead to the greatest gifts.”
Peckham is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Donnell Institute Professor Emeritus, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering Emeritus at Case Western Reserve University.

He received his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Clarkson, his master of science from Case Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

Peckham was the founder and executive director of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center, which studies the application of electrical currents to generate or suppress nerve activity. As executive director, he built a successful model for interdisciplinary clinical and research collaborations among scientists, engineers and clinicians.

His research is in neural engineering, rehabilitation engineering and neuroprostheses with a focus on functional restoration of the paralyzed upper extremity in individuals with spinal cord injury.

Peckham and collaborators developed a number of implantable neural prostheses that utilize electrical stimulation to control neuromuscular activation. They have implemented procedures to provide control of the upper extremity in individuals with tetraplegia, enabling individuals with central nervous system disability to regain the ability to perform essential activities of daily living.

His present efforts concern technology development, expansion of the indications for this technology, and technology transfer.

Peckham is the founder of the Institute for Functional Restoration (IFR) at Case Western Reserve University. The IFR deploys neuroprosthetic interventions into clinical use to restore the functions lost due to spinal cord injury or other “orphan” paralytic conditions. The IFR acts as the surrogate corporate partner for the neural technologies that have demonstrated feasibility within the research programs.

He is currently leading a NIH supported project to evaluate the feasibility of a pivotal clinical trial for the implementation of a new Networked Neuroprosthesis technology to restore hand function in people with spinal cord injury.

Peckham is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; a fellow and honorary member of the American Spinal Injury Association; and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical & Biological Engineering.

He received the Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize from Case Western Reserve University for exceptional achievements in teaching, research, and scholarly service; and the Paul B. Magnuson Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the highest honor for VA Rehabilitation Research.

Peckham is the recipient of the Biomedical Engineering Society Robert A. Pritzker Distinguished Lecture Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Spinal Injury Association, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Neuromodulation Society.

Clarkson University is a proven leader in technological education, research, innovation and sustainable economic development. With its main campus in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Clarkson faculty have a direct impact on more than 7,800 students annually through nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate STEM designated degrees in engineering, business, science and health professions; executive education, industry-relevant credentials and K-12 STEM programs. Alumni earn salaries among the top 2% in the nation: one in five already leads in the c-suite. To learn more go to www.clarkson.edu.
Photograph for media use is available at: