HomeDoctor of Physical TherapyLaura Gilchrist

Laura Gilchrist

Professor of physical therapy

Laura Gilchrist

Photo credit: 2009 Research Report,
Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

Classes taught: Outpatient PT II on neurophysiology, Acute Care II on cardiac, Complex Medical Trauma on cancer and other pathologies.

A circuitous route: Laura originally struck out on a different career path, believing she was suited for pure research. After earning a B.A. in biology and a Ph.D. in neuroscience, she found that research alone felt disconnected from the world. That’s when she went back to school and earned a B.S. in physical therapy.

Mother-daughter team: Laura remembers accompanying her mother to the physical therapy gym in a rehabilitation facility when she was a child. After earning her physical therapy degree, Laura found herself once again accompanying her mother to work, joining her as a fellow faculty member in the DPT program at St. Kate’s.

Research interests: Laura conducts research at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in the area of pediatric oncology. She is amongst only a handful of physical therapists in North America researching and reporting on nerve damage in children undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Advocating for change: Laura’s expertise in both physical therapy and neurology gives her a unique perspective and the tools to advocate for changes in chemotherapy treatments for children. Her mission: To prevent the debilitating nerve damage experienced by children resulting from chemotherapy.

Her teaching: “I love sharing with students my passion for neuroscience and pathophysiology and knowing that it has a direct impact on the patients they serve.” One of the most rewarding comments she has ever received from an alum: “Everything just makes sense when Laura says it. We wish we had mini-Laura reference pocketbooks as we start our careers!”

Intersection of research and teaching: Laura has found that teaching and research go hand-in-hand. “My hope for my DPT students is that they become partners with academic institutions or researchers to become part of a research team, finding ways to improve the lives of those battling life-threatening conditions.”

In the news: Laura’s research has brought her recent accolades in many corners. She is featured in the 2009 Research Report for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. She also received the 2010 Oncology Section Stephen Gudas Award for Outstanding Publication in Rehabilitation Oncology.

Education: B.A., biology, Lawrence University; Ph.D., neuroscience, University of Minnesota; B.S., physical therapy, University of Minnesota.