GMU Logo
Health and Human Services - The Center for Study of Chronic Illness and Disability

What are we Doing?


The CCID advances evidence-based clinical and programmatic research in the field of human disability, with the goal of improving the health and function of persons with chronic illness such as cancer or arthritis, or disabling conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy. CCID initiates research to better understand the causes, prevention, and amelioration of primary and secondary disabling conditions, as well as restoration of function and independent living. Our studies inform physicians and local, state, national and international policy makers on all aspects of rehabilitation and health for persons with long-term disabilities.

Our interdisciplinary faculty holds advanced degrees in rehabilitation medicine, health services research, social work, biostatistics, epidemiology, neuroscience and related fields.

Areas of Emphasis

Disability and Function

  • Develop, test and disseminate instruments to evaluate function
  • Develop, test and disseminate results of treatment trials designed to ameliorate or prevent disabilities and restore function
  • Explore the scientific basis for understanding the relationships between chronic illness and disability
  • Develop, test, disseminate techniques for tele-rehabilitation

Disability and Health

  • Evaluate disability competent care coordination organizations (DCCOs)
  • Study the role of exercise in preventing secondary disabilities
  • Inform consumer choice
  • Develop, test, disseminate population-based measures of quality of care

We Investigate Questions Such As:

  • How can external review agencies measure the quality of care for people with disabilities?
  • How can telemedicine be used to improve access to rehabilitation services?
  • How can we train health plans and clinics to become "disability competent” providers?
  • How can physiatrists and other physicians measure clinical improvements in physical function?
  • What are the relationships between chronic illness and disability? Are persons with disability at risk for developing chronic illness?
  • What are our best measurement tools to evaluate frequently seen symptoms associated with disability (e.g., fatigue) in order to determine how they impact function and well being?

Research Program:

The research activities are driven by CCID faculty. This program -driven research within the CCID requires collaborative research with basic and clinical scientists trans-GMU and extramurally. These research interests are aimed at elucidating the biology of disability and exploring its relationships with chronic illnesses. Examples include:

  1. Exploration of the possible molecular basis of disability pertinent to the neuromusculoskeletal system, and characterize genetic and physiological factors that might predict the likelihood of becoming disabled, and possibly severely disabled (eg. mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, amount of lean mass, anerobic thresholds, pain thresholds, et al) For example, explore what must occur to stimulate muscle hypertrophy in response to exercise, or conversely, atrophy in response to disuse? Determine why some individuals have minimal loss with disuse and some have little response to exercise designed to increase muscle mass?
  2. Exploration of neurohormonal and metabolic processes using microanalytic (nanotechnologies), imaging technologies, such as ultrasound and Doppler technologies. Assess the usefulness of patient self-reported measures and their relationship with the biological markers, to better understand issues of motivation and behavior as it relates to disability and restoration of function.
  3. Pursuing clinical research opportunities to identify factors associated with successful rehabilitation and restoration of function
  4. Design treatments, based on the analyses of data, to reduce or prevent disability, maintain and restore function and further explore how chronic disease influences disability and vice versa. Assess how effective are rehabilitative strategies in producing desired effects at the level of an individual’s functioning within their unique environment for selected chronic illnesses?
  5. Develop collaborative research (translational and clinical) opportunities. These efforts will be collaborative among faculty on the Prince William (molecular biology) and Fairfax (imaging and exercise physiology) campuses; with clinical affiliations at the Inova Health System, Clinical Center, NIH, National Naval Medical Center and other extramural clinical affiliations.

Active Protocols


  • Biological Contributors to Fa-tigue in Women with Primary Breast Cancer
  • An Integrated Systems Ap-proach to Understanding Com-plex Muscle Disorders
  • Analyzing Image Sequences to Study Human Functional Movements
  • A Study to Determine the Tis-sue Properties, Vascular Physi-ology and Biochemical Milieu of Myofascial Trigger Points


  • A Pilot Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of the Brain-Port™ Balance Device When Used to Improve Postural Control in Pa-tients with Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Cardiovascular Reactivity to Mental Stress in Coronary Ar-tery Bypass and Maze Surgery Patients

Other Professional Activities

Lynn Gerber

  • Workshop: Critical needs and Gaps in Understanding, Prevention, Amelioration and Resolution of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases
  • Teaching Day at MetroHealth, Cleveland, OH

Ali Weinstein

  • Recently became a member of the Early Career Professional council for Division 38 (Health Psychol-ogy) of the American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Received the Habit of Excellence Award from CHHS
  • Named President-elect of the brand new GMU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi

Funded Projects

National Science Foundation
The Center for Study of Chronic Illness and Disability (CCID) is the recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation. The award is $500,000.00 for the period of Sept. 1, 2007-August 30, 2011 and is to be used to develop a comprehensive measurement system to evaluate upper extremity motion. This project has enabled the purchase of equipment designed to capture data from three different perspectives, kinetic, kinematic and electromyographic. These data are being collected and integrated using novel software approaches to describe functional human motion.

Lynn Gerber: " Pathogenesis and Pathophysiological Mechanisms of Myofascial Trigger Points"
Dr. Lynn Gerber is a co-investigator on a RO1 awarded by the NIH. Total funding, nearly $2,000,000.00.

Henry Jackson Foundation
Dr. Lynn Gerber and Dr. Ali Weinstein received awards from the Henry Jackson Foundation totaling $598,700.00 for research associated with traumatic brain injury.

Economic Systems, Inc.
The Center received $79,000 from the Economic Systems, Inc. to study vocational rehabilitation and to implement an employment service evaluation. The project began, 9/24/08 and has been completed.

Dominion Guild
The Dominion Guild donated $12,000.00 to the Center to support student wage staff for Breast Cancer research.

The CCID has received $110,000.00 from the intramural program, NIH, to support clinical research to determine the mechanisms by which rehabilitation interventions improve functional outcomes in patients with primary and secondary pulmonary hypertension. This is a collaboration among INOVA-Fairfax Hospital, NIH and Mason. It is a multi-disciplinary enterprise which includes physical and psycho-social outcomes.

Econsys, Inc.
CCID received a $50,000.00 subcontract from Econsys, Inc to assess the relationships among disability and function and work loss in the veteran’s population.

Inova Health System
The College of Health and Human Services has contracted, through a MOU with INOVA Health System, a project to help develop an Outcomes Measurement Center. Dr. Gerber is the Medical Director, and her responsibilities include developing collaborative research initiatives in biomedical research for the two institutions. Outcome measurements sought include biological, physical functioning and psychosocial.

The Center received a donation of equipment from the NIH to help in the establishment of the Center’s Research Lab. The equipment is valued at over $40,000.00.

College of Health and Human Services
The College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University provided the Center with $60,000.00 to purchase new lab equipment. The Center’s Performance Lab is now in operation.

Donor Support
The CCID has received philanthropic contributions from donors contributing to the Foundation for George Mason University. Two of these donors directly support student research projects.

Vinson Hall Retirement Community
An internally funded project with Vinson Hall retirement community, funded through CCID resources, supported by the College and the Foundation, has enabled an assessment of the nature of the elements that determine independence among community dwelling elders.


Site Navigation

Contact Us

Phone: 703-993-3070