New chair announced in the College of Health

After an extensive national search, Lee Dibble, P.T., Ph.D., A.T.C., FAPTA has been named chair of University of Utah’s Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training in the College of Health, effective July 1, 2021. Dibble will oversee all education, research, and clinical programs in the department.

Lee Dibble

“Dr. Dibble has nearly three decades of combined clinical and academic experience,” says David H. Perrin, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Health. “This expertise, along with his commitment to research, will promote continued growth and progress for the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training.”

Dibble earned his Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Duke University followed by a doctorate in Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Utah. In addition to being a board-certified physical therapist, Dibble is a certified athletic trainer through the National Athletic Trainers Association.

Dibble joined the University of Utah in 1993 as a physical therapist. Upon completing his Ph.D., he began a full-time research and teaching faculty role in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. He is currently a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, and serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Occupational and Recreational Therapies, as well as the Department of Health and Kinesiology. Dibble also serves as the clinical director of the University of Utah’s Balance and Mobility Clinic and co-directs the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training’s Motion Capture Laboratories.

Dibble is an internationally recognized expert in Parkinson Disease rehabilitation and the examination and treatment of balance disorders and has been continuously funded for his research over the last 18 years. In addition to his primary research focus on exercise as a means of slowing the progression of Parkinson Disease, his research examines treatments for balance disorders produced by injuries to the inner ear or brain. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles, as well as many review articles and book chapters. He has extensive national, and international experience as a visiting professor, lecturer, and presenter, and in 2013, was a visiting fellow at the University of Sydney’s Department of Physiotherapy.

“I have had the great privilege to be a part of the University of Utah for more than 25 years, working in various roles and capacities across U of U Health and main campus,” said Dibble. “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. I look forward to supporting our outstanding faculty and staff as we grow the department’s national reputation for excellence in health care education, research, and clinical care. In this new role, my top priority will be to develop and enhance the people and programs that provide exceptional clinical care, as well as education and research opportunities to our students across the disciplines of physical therapy, athletic training, and rehabilitation science.”

Dibble succeeds R. Scott Ward, Ph.D., P.T., FAPTA as chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. Under Ward’s leadership, the department has developed into a national leader in education and research with the faculty growing from 8 to 25 core faculty, three separate degree programs (a master’s degree in Athletic Training, a clinical doctorate degree in Physical Therapy, and a Ph.D. degree in Rehabilitation Science) and 250 students. In addition, the department has exponentially grown its research portfolio to include investigations of cellular aspects of muscle function, clinical outcomes, and health services research with current annual research expenditures of $5 million.

Ward praised Dibble’s appointment, “Dr. Dibble is an ideal leader for the department. His experience and leadership in clinical care, research, and teaching coupled with his collaborative style, respect of diverse perspectives, and commitment to mentorship and professional development will take the department in exciting new directions.”