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Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Appoints
Steven Kirshblum, M.D., as Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


NEWARK— Rutgers New Jersey Medical School today announced the appointment of Steven Kirshblum, M.D., as Chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Kirshblum, internationally recognized for his work in this field, is also the Senior Medical Director at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ; Chief Medical Officer at Kessler Foundation, also in West Orange; and Chief of Service at University Hospital in Newark, NJ. 

“We are all honored and excited to have Dr. Kirshblum at the helm of our PM&R Department. His knowledge of rehabilitation medicine and his commitment to excellence in education, patient care and research make him the ideal individual to lead us forward,” said Robert L. Johnson, MD., Dean of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Noting the long-standing relationship among the medical school, Kessler Institute, Kessler Foundation, and University Hospital, Johnson added, “I am confident that the strong partnership we have developed through the years with Kessler and University Hospital, and our shared goals in education, training, and research will continue to grow under Dr. Kirshblum’s guidance.”  

“University Hospital is very fortunate to have Dr. Kirshblum as part of the University Hospital’s clinical leadership team in an exciting period of growth. “ said John N. Kastanis, MBA, FACHE, President and CEO, University Hospital. “We look forward to his remarkable contributions across the many clinical centers of excellence at University Hospital and to an enhanced partnership with Kessler Institute and Kessler Foundation leading to tremendous advancements in the care and treatment that we provide to our patients” said Kastanis.

Ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News and World Reports, New Jersey Medical School’s Department of PM&R is a top-tier, internationally recognized program. As chair and professor, Dr. Kirshblum will work to further develop the stellar reputation of the world-class department by, among other things, enhancing its academic and residency programs; supporting the clinical, academic and research activities of faculty; and coordinating the department’s research, educational, training, and clinical activities with those of Kessler Institute, Kessler Foundation, and University Hospital.

Dr. Kirshblum has also been named Chief Medical Officer at Kessler Foundation, where he will provide administrative and clinical oversight of research protocols and programs in collaboration with the research teams.

Dr. Kirshblum joined Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in 1990 and was named Director of Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation in 1994, and Medical Director in 1996. He was recently promoted to the new position of Senior Medical Director where he has overall medical oversight at Kessler’s West Orange campus. In addition, Dr. Kirshblum serves as Chief Academic Officer to the inpatient rehabilitation hospital division of Select Medical, Kessler Institute’s parent organization.  He is also Medical Director of the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Model System, a collaborative program of Kessler Foundation, Kessler Institute and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and one of only 14 such federally funded programs in the country. 

“I am excited about this opportunity and truly believe we are in a position to not only prepare future physicians, but to direct the very future of medical rehabilitation.  I look forward to working with the administration and staff, and leveraging the relationships between the medical school, Kessler Institute, Kessler Foundation and University Hospital to advance education, training, research and patient care,” said Dr. Kirshblum.

Widely respected for his work in spinal cord injury medicine, rehabilitation and research, Dr. Kirshblum has received numerous awards and honors, most recently the Sell Lectureship from the American Spinal Injury Association, Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals Leadership Award and the Distinguished Academician Award from the Association of Academic Physiatrists. He is a prolific writer, having authored hundreds of articles, abstracts, book chapters, peer-reviewed publications, and two textbooks, and is also a highly sought-after speaker. A graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ, and Finch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School, Dr. Kirshblum is active in many organizations, currently serving as Chair of the SCI Medicine Fellowship Program Directors Council, on the executive committee for the International Standards and Data Set Committees of the International Spinal Cord Society, and Director of Think First New Jersey. 


About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes - including employment - for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
Founded in 1948, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation is one of the nation’s largest and most respected rehabilitation hospitals.  Kessler is proud to be part of one only nine federally-designated Model Systems for the treatment and research of both spinal cord and brain injuries, a distinction shared with Kessler Foundation, and also leads the field in the care of individuals with stroke, neurologic diseases, amputation, orthopedic trauma, cancer and cardiac conditions. Ranked as one of the America’s Best Rehabilitation Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 24 consecutive years, Kessler has four hospital campuses in West Orange, Saddle Brook, Chester, and Marlton N.J., and more than 95 outpatient centers throughout the state.  For more information, visit

University Hospital
University Hospital is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, and is the Level 1 Trauma Center for Northern New Jersey. Located at University Heights in Newark, New Jersey, University Hospital is a principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and a regional resource for advanced services across many medical specialties.  For more information about University Hospital, please visit

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Celebrating over 61 years of service, NJMS was founded in 1954 and is the oldest school of medicine in the state. In addition to the MD degree, NJMS offers MD/PhD, MD/MPH and MD/MBA degrees through collaborations with other institutions of higher education. Dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care and community outreach, the medical school comprises 21 academic departments and works with several healthcare partners, including its principal teaching hospital, University Hospital in Newark. Its faculty consists of numerous world-renowned scientists and many of the region’s “Top Docs.”  NJMS hosts 27 centers and institutes, including the Public Health Research Institute Center, the Global Tuberculosis Institute and the Neurological Institute of New Jersey. The medical school is home to the Student Family Health Care Center, the nation’s first and oldest continually operating free student-run clinic. In 2015, NJMS was named the #1 NIH funded institution in New Jersey. Today it is part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the eighth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.  November 10, 2016, marked Rutgers' 250th Anniversary.