Debbie Backus 2021
Deborah Backus
VP, Research and Innovation
499 4994468 Shepherd Center Shepherd Center Atlanta Logo

With more than 35 years of experience in the neurorehabilitation field, Dr. Backus is known for her innovative approach to translating meaningful evidence into practice, facilitating clinician involvement in research activities, incorporating technology into clinical programs, and integrating standardized outcome assessment into routine clinical practice to better guide clinical care. In addition to serving as vice president of research and innovation, she is the director of the Virginia C. Crawford Research Institute and director of multiple sclerosis (MS) research at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

At Shepherd Center, Dr. Backus has initiated several programs to accelerate the practical application of innovation and technology to support the independence and rehabilitation of the patient populations Shepherd serves. These programs include building out a data analytics infrastructure to drive precision rehabilitation for patients; partnering with an innovative online platform to provide accessible exercise opportunities for people with disabilities; expanding assistive technology research and innovation to democratize activities of daily living for patients; and combining novel therapies to drive neuroplasticity.

Dr. Backus received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Boston University in 1986. She earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Emory University in 2004.

In January 2022, Dr. Backus was named to the Georgia Research Alliance’s board, where she works to influence research and technology support in the field of neurorehabilitation in the state. Dr. Backus is the immediate past president of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) and was one of the founding editors for the Archives of Rehabilitation Research & Clinical Translation. Her mission is to empower patients, students, and colleagues to achieve their greatest potential, and to advance rehabilitation science and care for people with disability due to neurological injury or disease. Dr. Backus is the 2023 recipient of the ACRM John Stanley Coulter Award, in recognition of this work.