Alumni Spotlight: Corey Simon

Corey Simon, DPT, PhD, FAAOMPT, completed the Rehabilitation Science program in December 2014. He is currently an assistant professor at Duke School of Medicine in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Doctor of Physical Therapy Division. Recently he was part of the team which published one of the first studies assessing age differences in circulating neuropeptide response following pain evocation. Additionally, his study testing pain modulatory capacity among women with fibromyalgia was selected as the Section on Women’s Health Top Platform Submission at the 2017 American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting. 

Tell us a little about your experience in the RSD program.

I was drawn to the RSD program by UF’s reputation and the research line and productivity of my primary advisor. Yet, my experiences in the RSD program far exceeded my expectations; and my appreciation for the program only grows.  For example, the RSD curriculum -and the breadth of its faculty- reinforced scientific translation.  The program taught me to forever consider how my research will change clinical practice, and/or how barriers to clinical care may be deduced to experimental questions.  In my experience, this level of critical thinking is more difficult for those not exposed to a training environment as rich as the RSD program.  In addition, the RSD program taught me the importance of being prolific in scholarship.  Subsequently, my internal performance goals, to date, have met or exceeded external metrics.  Finally, I gained proficiency in networking, for the purposes of creating a strong multi-disciplinary research team.  This skill has been vital to my research area of pain and aging, which requires expertise in pain science, geriatrics, and physical function.

What types of jobs or activities have you engaged in since graduation? And how does the training in the RSD program contribute to those activities?

Following graduation, I completed a post-doctoral assistantship in the Pain Research & Intervention Center of Excellence (PRICE); testing age-specific mechanisms of persistent pain and physical function decline among older adults. I attribute success in the post-doc to my RSD training, and to the mentoring relationships and networks forged as an RSD student. In 2016, I was hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and DPT Division at Duke University.  Undoubtedly, my RSD training and productivity contributed to the appointment, and provided the tools necessary to build new mentoring relationships and research collaborations here at Duke.  I’m fortunate to have mentors across multiple Duke Centers including Aging and Human Development, Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Psychology and Neuroscience, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute.  These relationships have accelerated my growth as a junior investigator and have resulted in multiple recent foundation and federal grant submissions.