New Investigator: Elizabeth Wellsandt, DPT, PhD

Elizabeth Wellsandt, DPT, PhD

Elizabeth Wellsandt, DPT, PhD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC’s 2020 Scientist Laureate, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

  • Name: Elizabeth Wellsandt, DPT, PhD
  • Title: Assistant professor, UNMC Department of Physical Therapy Education, College of Allied Health Professions
  • Joined UNMC: 2016
  • Hometown: Hartington, Nebraska

New Investigator Award

New Investigator Awards go to outstanding UNMC scientists who in the past two years have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New investigators also had to demonstrate scholarly activity such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

Research focus:

  • Osteoarthritis after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury

The goal of my research is: to better understand mechanisms underlying the rapid development of knee osteoarthritis that occurs within 10-15 years after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Treatment strategies to delay or prevent osteoarthritis after ACL injury do not yet exist. Our research team is investigating how factors that influence knee joint loading, such as movement patterns and daily physical activity, are related to early signs of poor cartilage health on MRI. Our long-term goal is to develop rehabilitation programs that promote long-term knee joint health and lifelong participation in physical activity.

My research will make a difference because: Of the quarter million ACL injuries each year in the United States, most occur in young, otherwise healthy individuals. The resulting pain, reduced quality of life and increased risk for co-morbidity from osteoarthritis lead to substantial health care costs, inability to fulfill work and personal responsibilities, and risk for multiple knee replacements. Our work is significant because it is focused on movement risk factors that can be modified and optimized after injury to prevent cartilage breakdown and osteoarthritis development. Our research team blends a unique combination of expertise in rehabilitation, orthopaedic surgery, radiology and engineering that has positioned us to develop novel treatment solutions to provide lifelong knee health and quality of life for individuals after knee injury.

The best advice I’ve ever been given is:

“If you think we always keep all our various balls in the air, you are seeing the illusion. We often keep the balls in the air, and the ones that fall are just hidden from view, dented and momentarily forgotten. We are here because we play to our strengths and find teammates (family members, baby-sitters, friends, colleagues and graduate students among them) whose contributions complement our own at work and at home. Don’t try to keep all the balls in the air. One will always be lying on the floor broken. Fortunately, you can always pick it up, smush it together, throw it back in the air, and almost no one will notice. Just don’t let it always be the same one.” – Lynn Snyder-Macker, PT, ScD

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • I grew up playing piano, pipe organ and trumpet and still play here and there.
  • My favorite things to do are to hike and backcountry camp.
  • My husband and I are avid Husker fans, and my three little kids always know to root for the red team.


  1. Tanya Custer says:


  2. Anne Lawlor says:

    Congratulations, Liz, on this well-deserved recognition of your important research!

  3. Joseph Siu says:

    Well-deserved, Dr Wellsandt. Congratulations!

  4. Brad Corr says:


  5. Kaleb Michaud says:

    Congratulations, Liz! Proud to be on the same team with you!

  6. Laur Bilek says:

    Well-deserved acknowledgment for your excellent work, Dr. Wellsandt! Congratulations!

  7. Joe Norman says:

    Congratulations Liz on this well-deserved recognition.

  8. Ryan Gallagher says:

    Congratulations Liz! You’re doing great work!

  9. Jean Hochstein says:

    Congratulations Liz, a well deserved honor, your friends and home town are very proud of you.

  10. Kelly Kathol says:

    This is great news Dr. Liz. I like your "best advice" above that is great but your hard work, persistence, family and faith are so so important in all you have accomplished. All the best for your continued success!!!

  11. Peggy Moore says:

    Congratulations Dr. Wellsandt! It's great to see your research and work recognized.

Comments are closed.