Dr. Smita Rao, PT, PhD is the Inaugural Robert S. Salant Endowed Associate Professor at the Department of Physical Therapy at NYU. This position honors not only the achievement but also the potential of the holder to continue to make significant contributions to science and practice. Endowed positions are one of the highest academic honors bestowed on a faculty member, they are landmark accomplishments. Dr. Marilyn Moffat led the philanthropic effort to fruition, supported by NYU alumni, benefactors and supporters. This unique endowed position showcases dedicated leadership, a joyous vibrant community, and transformative scholarship at the Department of Physical Therapy at NYU.
Dr. Rao is a clinician-scientist, and earned a Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) and Master of Science (Orthopedic Physiotherapy) at the University of Mumbai, India. She obtained her academic doctorate at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, you can find her dissertation here! Dr. Rao completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship funded by the Arthritis Foundation, with Drs Deborah Nawoczenski, PT, Ph.D. and Judith Baumhauer, MD.
Dr. Rao currently directs the PhD in Physical Therapy Program, she holds affiliated appointments at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, NYU Grossman and Biomedical Engineering at NYU Tandon. She is one of the founding faculty of NYU Steinhardt's Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences, and is a Fellow of NYU's Aging Incubator. At NYU, the goal of her work is to improve physical therapy and rehabilitation care in individuals with chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as diabetes and osteoarthritis. Dr. Rao's work has been funded by the Rheumatology Research Foundation, Foundation for Physical Therapy Research and the NIH.