Ongoing Research Projects

Bills Lab

The Bills laboratory seeks to understand the neuroscience of peripheral neurological stimulation particularly as it relates to addiction.  We study the non-canonical central hodology of spinal mechanoreceptors and their effects on the mesolimbic circuitry.  We also place particular emphasis on translational applications for non-pharmacological interventions for addiction.


Danto Lab

In my over 20 years of experience in the osteopathic profession my research interests continue to grow across the broad spectrum related to osteopathic principles and practices (OPP).  This means that I am equally interested in outcomes-based research that directly influences patient care, exploring the underlying scientific understanding of osteopathic diagnosis and treatment, and researching best practices in the delivery of osteopathic medical education.

Currently we are working upon a study that examines an alternate method for the osteopathic diagnosis of the pelvis. The standard method has been used for over 50 years, but the evidence supports that students struggle with consistency in attaining the correct diagnosis. Consequently, having an additional method for students to utilize to confirm their diagnosis will lead to improved student confidence in their diagnostic skills and better outcomes in treatment.

As part of the Noorda-COM curricular design we have a unique OPP curriculum delivery method. In short, the OPP curriculum is designed to be tailored by the students to their level of interest.  This approach to OPP education acknowledges the years of research by the osteopathic profession that every student is different and recognizes that many students apply their OPP education in ways that may not include osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).  To my knowledge, no similar curriculum has been formally designed and studied in osteopathic medical education.  My goal is to examine how our student’s different paths are reflected intrinsically in their performance within the OPP curriculum and in their national board performance.

There are many other areas that I am hoping to soon study. A long-term goal that will be immediately implemented by the Noorda-COM OPP Department will be research that explores the concept of “somatic dysfunction burden.” Since the beginning of osteopathic medicine over 100 years ago the implementation of OMT has been utilized for anyone suffering from the vast myriad of diseases and who had possibly related musculoskeletal findings. Recent research has determined that OMT is more successful when someone with a disease has more severe musculoskeletal findings. For instance, a person with low back pain will have greater benefits from OMT if their osteopathic musculoskeletal physical exam findings are more severe. The longevity of OMT as a viable treatment has been a result of its success.  Being able to determine exactly which patients would most benefit from OMT moves it from being a broad-spectrum approach to one that is laser targeted for more powerfully positive outcomes.

Yorgason Lab

The Yorgason laboratory is interested in understanding the neuroscience of motivation for appetitive behavior and conditioned learning. A major focus in the lab is the development of new tools for studying neuroscience using a variety of engineering modalities. Some current projects include the development of virtual reality systems for studying neural physiology in head restrained rodents performing behavioral tasks.

Jordan Yorgason CV



Steffensen Lab

Our lab primarily utilizes electrophysiology (both in vitro and in vivo) to measure and analyze the effects of substances on dopamine (DA) release in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of the anterior forebrain. Understanding the effects of DA is vital to understanding addiction and also the eventual clinical development of treatment.

Scott Steffensen CV


Pettitt Lab

The lab was strategically designed to conduct data collection off-site and in the field.  We have a wide range of telemetric sensors that enable whole-body motion capture and systemic measurements (e.g., metabolic analyzers, EMG, NIRS).  Our latest research centers on applications related critical power, cardiac rehabilitation, deleterious effects of vaping, and ergonomic situations involving police and firefighters.

Robert Pettitt CV

Current Projects: