Clarkson Professor Emeritus of Physical Therapy Leslie Russek has been appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Committee on Selected Heritable Connective Tissue Disorders and Disability. Russek is a nationally recognized expert in the area of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), a group of inherited disorders that mostly affects the skin, joints, and blood vessels. Since 2016, Russek has been a member of the International Physiotherapy Working Group for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type, a team working to coordinate international research priorities about hEDS.
Russek's research and clinical interests include hEDS, fibromyalgia, headaches, and chronic pain. Her current research includes the use of virtual reality to measure motor control and body awareness, as well as an international collaboration evaluating the potential benefits of Pilates exercise for people with hEDS. She gives hEDS lectures and runs training programs for both clinician and patient groups nationally and internationally.
Russek joined the Department of Physical Therapy in 1997 and was instrumental in developing the problem-based learning (PBL) physical therapy program. PBL helps students learn how to be effective as a team, as well as learning physical therapy content through active engagement in patient case studies. Russek trains both students and faculty in how to effectively implement PBL. Although she also teaches in musculoskeletal physical therapy and research courses, her recent focus has been teaching in the first semester of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, where she helps students make the adjustment to the active learning format of PBL, as well as to the demands of a doctoral-level health science curriculum. She teaches pain science throughout the curriculum and wrote the chronic pain chapter in one of the most widely used physical therapy textbooks.
Russek received her bachelor of arts in applied math from Harvard College, her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, then a second bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Vermont, and a clinical doctor of physical therapy from Simmons College. She received the 2019 Clarkson University Distinguished Teaching Award at the May commencement ceremonies.
The NASEM is the merger of the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine (formally the Institute of Medicine). For more information about NASEM go to: https://www.nationalacademies.org/about/the-national-academies