July 2019 O&P Almanac

Page 50


Serial Specialization Michael Wininger, PhD, puts his multitasking skills to use in the O&P research arena

O&P Almanac introduces individuals who have undertaken O&P-focused research projects. Here, you will get to know colleagues and healthcare professionals who have carried out studies and gathered quantitative and/ or qualitative data related to orthotics and prosthetics, and find out what it takes to become an O&P researcher.



of their lives focused on one narrow area of investigation and study. But Michael Wininger, PhD, a statistician who has conducted some important O&P research, has chosen an alternate pathway—one that he calls “serial specialization.” “Rather than a single area of focus, I am able to take on projects as they arise, deliver a product to one patient population, and then move on to the next opportunity,” Wininger says. “This kind of episodic engagement keeps me happy, with constant stimulation.” It is perhaps fitting that Wininger— who describes himself as an engineer with an interest in data science—has several significant job titles: associate professor at the University of Hartford (UHart), statistician of medicine at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and clinical assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health. Having three different appointments allows Wininger “to create research products that cut across the three main theaters in O&P: clinical practice, academic research, and career training,” he explains. Through professional collaborations and consultancies, he is able to tie in industry. “In each of these arenas, there is someone whom I consider a ‘customer’: Clinicians need definitive guidance

on how to treat patients; clinic managers want data-driven platforms for decision making in order to maintain competitive advantage; and the students need to know that they have a faculty member who is sharpening the cutting edge,” he says. “Working in these different ecosystems allows me the ability to not only design products that serve a broader good, but to take creative paths to solution. I feel that there is just as much merit to innovating the methodology as there is in producing an innovative result.”

Adventures in Force Myography

Wininger got his “start” in O&P while completing undergraduate degrees in physics and math at the University of Connecticut. “UConn immersed me in the most rigorous training in both pure and applied analytical skills, which turned out to be the pivotal assets and the foundation that supported my transition into biomedical engineering,” he says. Wininger started to see opportunity in engineering and prosthetics while an undergraduate student, when he learned about the work of William (Bill) Craelius, PhD, at Rutgers University. “Bill had written a seminal paper about prosthetic technology for a major scientific journal and was developing a technology that would ultimately become ‘force myography,’ a groundbreaking

PHOTO: Michael Wininger, PhD



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