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Gater joins Penn State Hershey as chair of newest department

Dr. David R. Gater, Jr. has been appointed the inaugural Rocco Ortenzio Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine, effective August 1.

Gater joins Penn State Hershey from Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia, where he is professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of the Spinal Cord Injury Fellowship Program. He also serves as chief of Spinal Cord Injury & Disorders for the Department of Veterans Affairs Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Center, also in Richmond.  Prior to joining Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006, Gater held faculty appointments at the University of Kentucky and the University of Michigan, along with clinical appointments at their associated hospitals.

The chair position is supported by an endowment established by the Rocco and Nancy Ortenzio Foundation.

“Enhancing and restoring functional ability for others has been a life-long passion of mine,” said Rocco A. Ortenzio, co-founder of Select Medical and a physical therapist by training. “Filling a chair devoted to physical medicine and rehabilitation with someone of Dr. Gater's stature culminates more than 50 years of the work that I love. In that time my family became very proud of what Penn State Hershey has come to mean to the biomedical sciences. We are truly honored to partner with Penn State Hershey to bring Dr. Gater to central Pennsylvania.”

“The recruitment of Dr. Gater to this endowed chair illustrates the power of philanthropy to advance our mission,” said Dr. Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, Penn State's senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine. “Dr. Gater brings to Penn State Hershey tremendous expertise as a researcher, clinician and educator, and he will be in a position to lead his department to national prominence. We are grateful to the Ortenzio family for their philanthropic vision in making this recruitment possible.”

Gater earned his B.S. in general biology, M.S. in exercise and sports sciences, Ph.D. in physiology, and M.D. from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. He is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, electrodiagnostic medicine and the subspecialty of spinal cord injury medicine. His research has been supported by numerous funding sources including NIH and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also has received numerous teaching awards and has mentored dozens of undergraduate, medical and graduate students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty.

Gater will be the first permanent chair of Penn State Hershey's newest department. He will succeed Dr. Brenda Mallory, who has served as interim chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation since the department's formation in 2010. As part of his clinical responsibilities, Gater will oversee the clinical programs at Penn State Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, which is starting construction on an expansion to nearly double the hospital's size and add specialized rehabilitation services that are in demand in the region. Mallory will remain in her role as medical director at the Rehabilitation Hospital.

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