Mitchell Rosenthal, PhD, who passed away at age 58 in early 2007, played a significant role as a researcher, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Model Systems National Data Base (NDB) curator, and program administrator in the TBI Model Systems program. While he was not at the birth of the TBI MSs, he became involved while at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan and Wayne State University in Detroit, assuming in 1990 the position of Project Director for the Southeastern Michigan TBI Model System, and becoming Project Director for the National Database and Statistical Center (NSDC) in 1993. When he moved to the Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Center in 1999, the funding for the NDSC was moved to the Northern New Jersey Model System.
As a principal curator of the NDB, Rosenthal implemented a number of innovations to improve the quality of the data and especially to enhance the role of the TBI NDB and the TBI Model Systems program in the world of TBI research. Among the former are the creation of an online NDB syllabus and the implementation of site visits to TBI MSs. In the latter category are, for instance, the initiation of a research registry for MSs collaborations on NDB analyses, and the creation of an expanded version of “Facts and Figures,” a quarterly newsletter describing NDB information, the clinical and research programs of individual MSs, and other information of interest to clinicians and consumers. Rosenthal gave many talks at meetings of clinicians and researchers, in the United States and internationally, in which he presented the purpose, methods, and contents of the NDB. He also started a program of distributing copies of the NDB syllabus to researchers in the United States and elsewhere, resulting in emulation of the NDB, or significant components of it, in many locations.
By virtue of his role as NDSC Project Director, Rosenthal chaired the TBI Model Systems Project Directors group, which plays a central role in planning, monitoring, and evaluating all TBI Model Systems’ cooperative efforts, including the NDB, module research, and many other activities; the TBI Model Systems played a role in, for example, the first two TBI Interagency Conferences, for which Rosenthal was on the planning committee. In his leadership capacity, he set the agenda for the semiannual Project Directors meeting (in consultation with NIDRR staff), chaired the group’s meetings, and followed up between meetings to make sure that the various committees and task forces performed their work and coordinated with one another.
In addition, Rosenthal was a prolific user of the NDB data. He (co)authored about 20 papers that used information from the data set to investigate topics such as the measurement of community integration, the resource cost of TBI rehabilitation, differences in outcomes between minorities and whites, and the prediction of long term outcomes in general and of employment in particular.
In 2008, the TBIMS Project Directors established the Rosenthal Award, to keep his legacy alive and inspire new generations of investigators. The award initially was given biannually to the best paper published in a peer-reviewed journal that uses NDB information to investigate some aspect of TBI, its treatment or natural history.
The Award for the 2006-2007 period was won by William C. Walker MD, Jennifer H. Marwitz MA, Jeffrey S. Kreutzer PhD, Tessa Hart PhD, and Thomas A. Novack PhD for their article “Occupational Categories and Return to Work After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Multicenter Study” (Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2006, 87(12) 1576-82)
The Award for the 2008-2009 period was won by Jeffrey S. Kreutzer PhD, Lisa J. Rapport PhD, Jennifer H. Marwitz MA, Cynthia Harrison-Felix PhD, Tessa Hart PhD, Mel Glenn MD, and Flora Hammond MD for their article “Caregivers' well-being after traumatic brain injury: a multicenter prospective investigation” (Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2009, 90(6) 939-46)
Given the increase in the number of papers published each year, the award was made an annual one in 2010.
The Award for 2010 was won by Tessa Hart PhD, Mark Sherer PhD, Nancy Temkin PhD, John Whyte MD, PhD, Sureyya Dikmen PhD, Allan Heinemann PhD, and Kathy Bell MD for their article “Participant-proxy agreement on objective and subjective aspects of societal participation following traumatic brain injury. (Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 2010, 25(5):339-48)
The Award for 2011 was won by Gale Whiteneck PhD, Marcel Dijkers PhD, Allen Heinemann PhD, Jennifer Bogner PhD, Tamara Bushnik PhD, Keith Cicerone PhD, John Corrigan PhD, Tessa Hart PhD, Jim Malec PhD, and Scott Millis PhD for their article “Development of the Participation Assessment with Recombined Tools-Objective for use after traumatic brain injury”. (Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2011, 92(4):542-51.)
The Award for 2012 was won by Cynthia Harrison-Felix PhD, Scott E. D. Kreider MS, Juan C. Arango-Lasprilla PhD, Allen W. Brown MD, Marcel P. Dijkers PhD, Flora M. Hammond MD, Stephanie A. Kolakowsky-Hayner PhD, CBIST, Chari Hirshson PhD, Gale Whiteneck PhD, and Nathan D. Zasler MD, FAAPMR, FAADEP, DAAPM, CBIST for their paper “Life Expectancy Following Rehabilitation: A NIDRR Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Study”. (Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 2012;27(6):E69-80.)
The Award for 2013 was won by John Whyte MD, PhD, Risa Nakase-Richardson PhD, Flora M Hammond MD, Shane McNamee MD, Joseph T. Giacino PhD, Kathleen Kalmar PhD, Brian D. Greenwald MD, Stuart A. Yablon MD, and Lawrence J. Horn MD for their article “Functional outcomes in traumatic disorders of consciousness: 5-year outcomes from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems” (Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2013; 94(10):1855-60.)
The Award for 2014 was won by John D. Corrigan, PhD, Jeffrey P. Cuthbert, PhD, MPH, Cynthia Harrison-Felix, PhD, Gale G. Whiteneck, PhD, Jeneita M. Bell MD, MPH, A. Cate Miller, PhD, Victor G. Coronado, MD, MPH, and Christopher R. Pretz PhD for their article “US population estimates of health and social outcomes 5 years".