Health Sciences

Occupational therapy professor awarded department’s first NIH grant

Dr. Samuel Nemanich receives R03 to study motor skills in children

Sam Nemanich
Dr. Samuel Nemanich

Dr. Samuel Nemanich, assistant professor of occupational therapy, has received a $300,000 R03 grant award from the National Institutes of Health to study motor skills in children — specifically, to determine whether there are differences in learned skills between children born pre-term and those born at term.

Nemanich’s grant is the first NIH award made to a faculty member in the Department of Occupational Therapy since its inception in 2020.

Dr. Nemanich will investigate how school-age (5-8 years old) children who were born pre-term learn new motor skills, if there are differences in motor learning between pre-term and term-born children, and whether this contributes to atypical movement development.

“I’m honored to have received this grant award from the NIH to support my research in understanding how children develop motor skills,” Nemanich says. “We know that children who were born preterm often have motor delays, however we are unsure if they also have difficulties learning new motor skills.  Studying differences in motor learning between both pre-term and full-term children is a pivotal first step in research that supports healthy movement function throughout development.”

Information about motor learning differences in pre-term children can lead toward evidence-based, timely, and targeted therapy interventions that may help improve motor abilities, allowing children to fully participate in school and maximize their independence as they mature toward adulthood, Nemanich explains.

“Dr. Nemanich has been an instrumental part of this department’s success thus far and his scientific focus has helped our students better understand he connection between research and practice,” says Dr. Christine O’Neil, chair of the Occupational Therapy Department. “The grant award is a big first step for our program as we position it as to be a premiere occupational therapy department in the region.”

For more information on Nemanich’s research and his lab, click here.