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A Memorial Tribute to Roger M. Glaser, Ph.D.

  Roger M. Glaser graduated with a BA in 1968 and an MS in 1969 from Queens College of the City University of New York. He earned his doctorate in Physiology from Ohio State University in 1971. After a brief career as Assistant Electronic Engineer for United Scientific Laboratories and later at GEDCO in New York, Roger began his academic career at Ohio State University in the College of Medicine where he was a research and teaching associate. In 1975, He moved to Wright State University School of Medicine as an assistant professor. He was promoted to the rank of associate professor of physiology in 1976 and to the rank of professor of physiology and biophysics in 1981. From 1985 to 1986, Roger was a visiting professor at the University of Virginia College of Medicine, where he collaborated with Dr. Clifford E. Brubaker. Roger served as Acting Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Restorative Care, and as Program Director of Physiology at Wright State University. Roger founded and directed a very productive laboratory that produced many talented investigators.

Photo of Dr. Glaser
Roger M. Glaser, Ph.D.

  Roger has been acclaimed for his many practical contributions to the lives of people with disabilities, and for his scientific accomplishments in contributing to our greater understanding of the physiological responses of individuals with spinal cord injuries. Among Roger's most notable awards were the WSU Presidential Award for Excellence in Research, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart Award for Outstanding Research in Service to the Handicapped. Roger was active in research, teaching, mentoring, and advocacy for people with disabilities. Roger took an active role in organizing the presentations at the 1996 Paralympic Congress. He made important, fundamental contributions toward understanding the physiological impact of functional electric stimulation to induce exercise of paralyzed limbs, and to the analysis of wheelchair propulsion. Roger was a consistent contributor to science and the expansion of knowledge. He was in the forefront of training new investigators for the field of rehabilitation science.

  Roger's impact was substantial in content and global in scope. He was a mentor, scholar, and friend to most of the rehabilitation science community. A few of these people have provided insight with respect to Roger's life and his professional impact.

  "I joined Roger's lab in 1987 as the lone biomechanist in a group of exercise physiologists working on Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) research. Roger was open to new approaches and ideas in the research work, and fostered an active and dynamic group of young researchers. He was supportive as a mentor and very creative in his research endeavors. Despite personal tribulations, he maintained a strong research presence in an environment that was not always supportive of his efforts. In addition to the research work, Roger and I shared a love of ice cream, often visiting the local ice cream establishments. I will remember Roger's laugh, his smile, and his words of encouragement, which were an important part of my professional development."

Mary M. Rodgers, Ph.D., P.T.
Maryland VA Healthcare System, Baltimore, and
University of Maryland School of Medicine

  "I first heard from Roger in the early 1970s, close to the completion of his doctoral studies. Our Department of Research & Sports Medicine at the Wingate Institute, Israel had just been established and Roger wondered whether he could do a Post Doctoral Fellowship with us. In the ensuing dialogue, I soon realized what a unique young scientist he was. His vision went way beyond traditional exercise physiology. Even at that early stage of computer technology, Roger had the foresight to consider incorporating electronics into exercise physiology research. Being interested in monitoring children's daily activity, I asked Roger whether he could think of a way of collecting and storing heartbeats over several hours. After very brief deliberation he responded in the affirmative. He would `EASILY' develop this device during his visit to us. Unfortunately, this visit did not materialize. Roger made the right career decision to do his post-doc work in the U.S. Who knows how the history of heart rate monitoring would have evolved had Roger accepted our invitation?"

Oded Bar-Or
Wingate Institute, Israel

  "I'm saddened to hear about Roger Glaser's death. I regret that we did not interact more because now any opportunity for a deeper relationship has been lost. Somehow, unfortunately, our paths did not cross very frequently. My heart goes out to Roger's family and close colleagues."

Dudley S. Childress, Ph.D.
Director, Northwestern University
Rehabilitation Engineering Program and
Prosthetics Research Laboratory, Chicago, IL

  "Roger (and others on his staff) and I (and Lisa Schutte in my Center) collaborated for a couple years on a functional electrical stimulation (FES) project. I also spent two weeks on a safari with Roger. He was a genuinely fine person who cared deeply about others. I will always remember his gentile (gentile seems unlikely in this context!! gentle? genteel?) character and his never-ending smile."

Felix Zajac, Ph.D.
Director, Rehabilitation R&D Center of Excellence
VA Palo Alto Health Care System

  "Roger was quite a gymnast in his youth. He competed for the Queens YMCA in Queens, Long Island between 1960 and 1963. I was coach of the women's gymnastic team, and traveling coach for the men's team. Roger and I lost contact with each other until 1987, when I submitted a VA Rehab. R&D merit review grant. Roger was a reviewer on the grant, and once it was awarded he called me to ask whether I was the same Ed Langbein that he had known many years earlier. Both of us had chosen similar career paths. Roger was highly regarded as a scientist. He was among the best. I was happy to be reunited with him, and to be able to share our research."

W. Edwin Langbein, Ph.D.
Research Health Scientist
Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital

  "I came across Roger Glaser in the literature when I started out with my work in wheelchair propulsion research. He appeared to have performed many of the first and basic research projects concerning exercise in the wheelchair user population. He set out a line of research on wheelchair arm work and arm cranking that was an example to me and to many others. He performed accurate and to-the-point experiments that were and still are basic to the theory of the physiology of arm work and to the physiology of persons with spinal cord injury. Subsequently, he developed a central position in the field of electrically stimulated exercise in subjects with a spinal cord injury. Based upon his huge experience in the field, I invited Roger to assist in the defense of Thomas Janssen's doctoral dissertation, entitled Physical Strain and Physical Capacity in Men with Spinal Cord Injuries in 1994. Roger did an elegant and stimulating job, as well as presenting interesting lectures. This was the first time that we met personally. My first impression of Roger was that he was a highly interesting and pleasant person, open to discussions and questions. He appeared practical as well, since he invited Thomas Janssen to come to Dayton to work with him. This led to an active role for Thomas in Roger's lab over the years since. Roger was expected to play a pivotal role on Annet Dallmeijer's doctoral dissertation entitled Spinal Cord Injury and Physical Activity. He agreed to participate, but fell ill shortly thereafter. The field of exercise physiology and biomechanics within the context of rehabilitation medicine will miss this gentle and pivotal person. Roger's immense and crucial scientific contributions will be commemorated throughout the world."

Luc HV van der Woude, Ph.D.
Institute for Fundamental and
Clinical Movement Sciences
Vrije University
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  "I knew Roger Glaser for many years. When I joined the VA Research Center for Prosthetics in New York City, as a research physical therapist, I met Roger, who came in occasionally just to visit and talk about wheelchairs--he spoke of things such as `ergonomics and wheelchair physiology (the person in the chair wheeling the chair and the physiological cost to that person).' Who would ever think of such things? We just stared at him but we did listen. The outcome of his thoughts and our listening is history today.

  Many years later, as Editor of this journal, I called on Roger many times to review manuscripts for this publication on the subject of wheelchair propulsion, exercise physiology, and optimal performance among individuals with spinal cord injury. He always reviewed the papers I sent him. His reviews were so thoroughly enlightening that many times I thought they should be published as well. I know his reviews were extremely valuable to the authors. When the clinical supplement Physical Fitness: A Guide for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury was in its developmental stage, and I needed a lead-off chapter on the physiology of exercise, I called on Roger, as an appointed member of the Editorial Board of this journal, knowing in advance that he was a prolific writer. He wrote a chapter that was almost the length of a monograph itself and, after some explaining on my part, agreed, a bit reluctantly, to shorten his chapter without losing the scientific value contained within. This particular clinical supplement was made available at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, GA and proved to be so popular that it has been reprinted several times. It is still in great demand.

  Yes, Roger will be missed by all that knew him for his never-ending zest for knowledge in improving the quality of life of persons with spinal cord injury."

Tamara T. Sowell, Editor
Journal of Rehabilitation
Research and Development

  These comments provide only a small sample of the way that Roger Glaser impacted rehabilitation science. Roger was truly one of the great contributors to rehabilitation science. He will be sorely missed by all of those who knew him, and by those who have benefited from his work.

Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D. and Clifford E. Brubaker, Ph.D.
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Pittsburgh
Members of the Editorial Board of the
Journal of Rehabilitation
Research and Development

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  Last Updated Friday, June 24, 2005 11:50 AM