Distinguished Professor

Scott M. Lephart, PhD was recently appointed as Distinguished Professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lephart serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition and Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory and the Warrior Human Performance Research Center. He also holds a secondary Professor appointment in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Distinguished professorship constitutes the highest honor a member of the professorate can receive at the University of Pittsburgh. The rank of Distinguished Service Professor recognizes distinctive contributions and outstanding service to the University community in support of its multi-faceted teaching/research/service mission, as well as performance excellence in the faculty member's department or school, and national/international stature in his or her discipline or field.

Dr. Lephart’s distinguished career has contributed significantly to the University of Pittsburgh’s mission of excellence in education, service, and research.  Shortly after beginning his career at the University of Pittsburgh in 1987, Lephart developed the Graduate Studies in Sports Medicine program and clinical collaborations within the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and across the region. In 1999, he received the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Most Distinguished Educator Award, the highest honor for education and mentoring. He also successfully led the merger of the Sports Medicine and Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition programs in 2000 to create the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition and since that time has served as the Department Chair.

Most notable are Dr. Lephart’s research efforts. His research has helped both scientists and clinicians understand and apply concepts for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injury. In 1990, Lephart and his colleague, Dr. Freddie H. Fu, Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, founded the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory (NMRL) with the mission to study the neuromuscular and biomechanical aspects of sports injuries. Lephart’s early research led to his global recognition as a scientific leader in the area of proprioception and neuromuscular control of joint stability. “After 20 years of collaboration, this well-deserved appointment demonstrates Dr. Lephart’s significant contribution to the Sports Medicine, Orthopaedic, and military communities. I look forward to our future work”, says Fu.   

For the past decade, the NMRL’s research has focused on the unique injury mitigation and performance optimization needs of our military’s elite. The first initiative began with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. At the completion of the project in early 2013, more than 3000 Soldiers participated in the study and the development of the Eagle Tactical Athlete Program (ETAP). ETAP replaced US Army training doctrine at Fort Campbell as the implemented physical training program for more than 25,000 Soldiers. As part of this work , the NMRL was awarded the prestigious The Amsus Sir Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize by the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States for the Most Exemplary Published Research in 2012 for the paper titled “Less Body Fat Improves Physical and Physiological Performance in Army Soldiers.”
Expanding upon the initial research with the 101st Soldiers, the NMRL developed a model to study the tactically-specific injury prevention and human performance needs of Special Operations Forces (SOF). To date research with individual SOF commands (Naval Special Warfare (3 sites), and US Army Special Operations Command), has demonstrated several critical findings to injury prevention and physical readiness, and resulted in significant performance improvements. Glenn Mercer, MCPO, USN (ret), former director of human performance at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), recognized these accomplishments “…efforts in support of the Department of Defense Human Performance thesis has significantly enhanced the combat capability of this nation’s front line combatants. His astute guidance and integration of NMRL research teams has had a persistent and enduring effect on the United States Special Operations Enterprise. In a very short term he has provided the USSOCOM Command Teams with an objective lens to assess, analyze and scientifically measure the physical resilience and core capabilities of high value human capital.”     

The NMRL was recently selected as the scientific mission partner related to human performance research of USSOCOM. With six Warrior Human Performance Research laboratories located at respective installations (Air Force Special Operations Command opened July 2013, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command to open 2014), the University of Pittsburgh is positioned to measure the effectiveness of USSOCOM’s Preservation of the Force and Families (POTFF) and contribute significantly to the direction of human performance. POTFF was developed to focus on the well-being and resilience of the SOF and their families. CAPT Thomas Chaby, Director, Preserving the Force and Families Task Force (POTFF) stated “…[Dr. Lephart's work is] directly improving Special Operations battlefield readiness.  Through his meticulous assessment and analysis, Dr. Lephart has pinpointed key data that are helping Special Operations Human Performance leadership design programs that are reducing injuries and developing overall strength and resilience”.      

Lephart’s work with the military has gained international recognition. He delivered a Keynote Lecture to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and served as a consultant to the Norwegian Defense University and Norwegian Naval Special Forces. Dr. Lephart’s current research will have a tremendous impact on preparing our warriors for the physical demands of protecting and serving our country, lengthening their service contribution, and improving quality of life outlook after service.