Director MS Research
Deborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM is director of multiple sclerosis (MS) research at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a grant-funded investigator, physical therapist, and educator with over 32 years of experience in neurorehabilitation. Debbie’s mission is to empower patients, students and colleagues to achieve their greatest potential and to advance rehabilitation science and care. As director of MS research at the Shepherd Center, Debbie’s research activities have a broad scope that includes facilitating pharmacologic, device-related clinical trials and other non-rehabilitation interventions for MS, and previously for spinal cord injury. Her specific research agenda focuses on investigation of models of care and rehabilitation interventions to facilitate greater function, health and quality of life in people living with MS. Debbie combines her clinical and research experience to facilitate the translation of evidence into clinical practice, to ultimately influence practice, reimbursement and health policy. At Shepherd she has been instrumental in facilitating clinician involvement in research activities, as well as incorporating standardized outcome assessment into routine clinical practice to better guide clinical care and to help build an evidence base related to comprehensive care for people with MS. Debbie is currently PI on the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) project "STEP for MS", and is also funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. She has presented both nationally and internationally related to her work, and her studies have been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals. Debbie received her BS in physical therapy from Boston University in Massachusetts in 1986 and her PhD in neuroscience from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 2004.