P. Hunter Peckham, Donnell Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedics, was named recipient of the Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize, one of the highest honors a Case Western Reserve University faculty member can receive. He will receive the award at the Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 17.
During his more than 35 years at Case Western Reserve, Peckham has exemplified the qualifications of a Hovorka Prize recipient through his dedicated leadership and proven commitment to the University and his profession.
Peckham is known worldwide for his work in developing cutting-edge technologies that enable paralyzed individuals to regain their ability to perform essential daily tasks. His research focuses on the use of functional electrical stimulation to restore hand and arm control in individuals paralyzed by nervous system damage or disease.
Additionally, Peckham was instrumental in building a consortium of leaders from varying disciplines and different institutions to create the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center, which studies the application of electrical currents to either generate or suppress activity in the nervous system. As the center's executive director, Peckham has built a model of successful research collaboration among scientists, engineers and clinicians from the Cleveland Veteran's Administration Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University and MetroHealth Medical Center.
An indicator of the center's national prominence was its recent role in organizing and hosting the 2008 Neural Interfaces Conference, which marked the first time in the conference's 38-year history that an organization outside Washington D.C. was asked to host the event.
Peckham holds eight patents, has authored hundreds of articles and was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering in 2002. Over his career he has been honored by his peers and dozens of organizations for his achievements, including his election as Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, designation as Pioneer of the Neuroprothesis by the State of Ohio, recipient of a special citation by the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, designation as 2002 Engineer of the Year by Design News, and recipient of the Paul Magnuson Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Leadership is the hallmark of Peckham's research success and is a characteristic frequently tapped by the University's administration at important times. He has served on many high-level committees, including the presidential and provost search committees, the Provost's Commission on Research and Graduate Programs, the ACES (Academic Careers in Engineering and Science) Steering Committee, and served as interim chair of the biomedical engineering department.
Peckham's nominator for the Hovorka Prize writes in his nomination letter, "All of the contributions listed omit perhaps one of Peckham's strongest character traits, which is his humanity. He is approachable by virtually anyone, from high school students to government or business dignitaries. His interactions with people are heartfelt and real. This personality characteristic underlies his choice of research areas, his dedication to getting the results of his research into practical use, and his ability to build interdisciplinary teams."
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