Alumna Wins New Investigator Research Award

by Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

A College of Health Sciences’ alumna was recently honored with one of the country’s most prestigious awards for young researchers.

Jenny Dorich, PhD, MBA, OTR/L, CHT, and a 2022 graduate of the Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD Program, was a 2023 recipient of an Orthopaedic Research Society’s New Investigator Recognition Award.

“I submitted an abstract to the Orthopaedic Research Society to present the methodology I used in my dissertation work at UK for developing a patient-reported outcome measure — that measures the outcomes that children with hand impairment desire from their care — at their annual meeting that took place in Dallas, Feb 9-14,” Dorich wrote in an email. “From this abstract submission, I was nominated as a finalist to receive a New Investigator Research Award. At the conference I was one of multiple finalists who competed for the award with a poster and platform presentation, and I was successful in becoming an awardee.”

The presentation, entitled, A Methodology for Developing Outcome Measures Aligned With Orthopaedic Patients’ Desired Outcomes, featured co-authors Roger Cornwall, Tim Uhl, Dana Howell and Camille Skubik-Peplaski.

Dorich now serves as an Occupational Therapist at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and the Program Lead for Hand Therapy, as well as an assistant professor in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, the College of Medicine and the College of Rehabilitation, Exercise and Nutrition at the University of Cincinnati.

After hearing about her win, she emailed her former professors at UK.

“I know you were aware that I had submitted my dissertation work to the recent Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) Conference and my abstract got nominated for a New Investigator Research Award (NIRA),” she wrote. “As a finalist I was graded on my poster and on my platform presentation. I am happy to share that I did receive the NIRA, and I thought you all might like to hear that your investment in my development as a researcher is getting recognized outside of UK.” 

They were, in a word, thrilled.

Uhl called it “a big honor,” while Skubik-Peplaski, a professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at Eastern Kentucky University, replied, “Glad you’re getting the recognition you deserve.”

But it wasn’t the first time Dorich had been honored.

In 2022, Dorich won the College’s Robinson Graduate Award for Research Creativity. She said she originally wanted to come to a PhD program that could be personalized for her — and that’s exactly what she received.

“My mentors in the program allowed me to develop a research program that met my career goals and the clinical questions that were relevant to me,” she said.

And she was able to do it all while working full-time and raising three boys. This latest recognition meant a lot, she says.

“Receiving the (NIRA) award was special because this is a very diverse group of scientists who share orthopaedics as the one common theme,” she said. “Professional backgrounds range from engineers, basic scientists, orthopaedic surgeons, epidemiologists and physical therapists and occupational therapists. To have this diverse body of scientists value the benefit of the methodology I am using to develop a measure was thrilling, and it gives me hope that adoption of the measure will happen in practice. 

“Even more uplifting than winning the award,” she continued, “was having surgeons ask when the measure will be ready for them to use.”