Center History

Founding of the Center

Reed Humphrey
Dr. Reed Humphrey, currently Dean of the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Montana and Head of UM Health and Medicine, received his PhD in applied physiology from the University of Pittsburgh, and graduate degrees from Wake Forest University and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia, where he also taught for 10 years with joint appointments in Physiology and Physical Medicine. His research had been largely focused on exercise and heart failure, and his work in the exercise physiology and training for patients with ventricular assist devices led to his recognition by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) with its Award of Excellence in 2007. He is a master fellow of the AACVPR, and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Humphrey first conceived of creating a neural injury center while serving as Chair of the School of Physical Therapy at the University of Montana. Duringhis time as Chair, several hires were made with an interest in brain injury. Those hires coincided with greater consolidation of the Physical Therapy clinics and an increased focus on Neurorehabilitation. As Chair, Dr. Humphrey also was aware of challenges facing many student veterans returning with brain injuries. To build capacity, he initiated conversations with like-minded colleagues to support student veteran success, and the diagnosis and treatment of neural injuries. He worked closely with Dr. Charles Leonard, a professor specializing in motor control, and Dr. Richard Bridges, a neuroscientist and Regent’s Professor, to build a proposal to formally establish the Neural Injury Center at the University of Montana. The Center was approved by the Montana Board of Regents in 2014. Dr. Leonard was named as Center Director and Cindi Laukes was hired to serve as chief operating officer for the Center. Following Dr. Leonard’s retirement in 2016, Dr. Humphrey served as the Center’s executive director until promoting Cindi Laukes to the director’s role in the fall of 2018.

Center Research and Continued Development

As the Center evolved, several University of Montana and external researchers began collaborations to develop a suite of objective, mobile tests to better diagnose and treat brain injury, including biomarkers, eye tracking, balance, and other tests. Key researchers included Dr. Thomas Rau, a neuroscientist, and Dr. Sarjubhai Patel, a molecular neuropharmacologist, and Diane Brooks, who worked with Dr. Leonard and the Center team on a large proposal to the Montana Research and Economic Development Initiative.This effort also included the work of, Dr. Alex Santos, Adriana and Dr. Sambit Mohapatra, PT researcher/clinicians, as well as several external researchers. The proposal was funded in 2015 for $2.2 million for two year to spin off innovative technologies, build the Center,and foster economic development. During this time, 55-70 student veterans and athletes were screened annually for concussion. In 2018, Dr. Humphrey appointed Cindi Laukes to serve as the Center Director. She has expanded the integration of clinical specialties involved to include pharmacy, speech and language, and social work, and is increasing opportunities for student athletes to be screened at the Center. She has created a team of veteran’s outreach, clinical, and scientific advisors to continue to refine and build on the Center’s clinical, research, and outreach missions.

Founding Collaborators

Sarj and Tom

Sarjubai Patel, PhD and Thomas Rau, PhD

Diane Brooks

Diane Brooks, BS

Cindi Laukes

Cindi Laukes, MA, MFA

Chuck Leonard

Chuck Leonard, PT, PhD

Alex and Adriana

Adriana Degani, PT, PhD and Alex Santos, PT, PhD

Sambit

Sambit Mohapatra, PT, PhD