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Nicoleta Bugnariu

UNT Health Science Center

Nicoleta Bugnariu helps patients get on their feet. As one of four professors who developed the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s doctor of physical therapy program, Bugnariu helped create curriculum vital to its success. Four years later, Bugnariu continues to focus on rehabilitation, using her background in balance and movement to improve rehabilitation practices. She combines virtual-reality technology with clinical knowledge, providing patients with opportunities to regain the ability to maintain balance, walk and perform functional tasks. “Nicoleta is passionate about research and the importance of it for the advancement of rehabilitation health-care services that are available to patients,” said Dana Benton Russell, the center’s public relations director. Russell credits Bugnariu for helping build a human movement laboratory featuring a CAREN (Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment Network) system, which integrates traditional posture-monitoring instrumentation with a virtual-reality environment. Since joining the school in 2009, Bugnariu has helped establish research collaborations with the University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas and Texas Health Resources, among other institutions. She described two primary areas of interest. “The first research interest revolves around the understanding of basic mechanisms and systems controlling posture and movement across the life span, in healthy and neurologically impaired populations,” Bugnariu says. Her second area of research interest focuses on applied, translational research intended to improve current rehabilitation practice affecting patient health. She serves as chairwoman of Falls Prevention Task Force, established by the city of Fort Worth in its quest for a Safe Community designation from the World Health Organization. Among Bugnariu’s academic degrees are a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy from the University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and a Ph.D. in neurosciences, University of Ottawa.     What drew you to the health care field? Curiosity about the function of the human body, specifically how the central nervous system controls movement; how the sensory-motor processes are affected by age and disease and the fascination with the potential for plasticity and rehabilitation. Who is your biggest inspiration? Real people from all walks of life who have a passion for something (whatever it may be) and, consequently, they invest themselves in pursuing that dream, making a difference, creating something new, not because they want fame but because they follow an internal drive to contribute and have a positive impact. What is your advice for people getting into the health care field? Be empathetic and humble; cultivate your curiosity and a learning attitude; health care, it is a great field to mix science and creativity. – A. Lee Graham 

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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