Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center

The Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center (RCTC) was established in 1999 within the Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Physiology and Medicine. Its mission is to develop strategies to improve functionality of patients with chronic disease. The primary focus has been on COPD. Over 75 clinical trials have been performed since its inception. It is unique in that only research is conducted here; no clinical services are provided. Dr. Richard Casaburi is the founder and he, along with Dr. William Stringer serve as Medical Directors. Other full-time faculty participants are Dr. Janos Porszasz, the facility’s Technical Director and Dr. Harry Rossiter, the Director of Research Training. Several other of the Harbor-UCLA faculty participate in investigations in the RCTC. The Center’s current staff includes 8 investigators, 6 study coordinators and 3 postdoctoral research fellows. Pulmonary fellows in the Division may choose to spend their research rotation in the RCTC, working under the mentorship of RCTC investigators.

Current research interests include pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise training, COPD pharmacotherapy, COPD cachexia, mechanisms of fatigue, exercise physiology, exercise testing and biomedical instrumentation. The RCTC participates in several NIH-funded multicenter clinical trial groups.
In October 2012, the RCTC moved to new, NIH-funded, purpose built, 2 story, 24,000 ft2 building. This new building, the Chronic Disease Clinical Research Center (CDCRC), houses the RCTC research group and two other research groups. The RCTC occupies 5 new laboratory spaces in the CDCRC, which encompass an exercise training and functional testing laboratory, an exercise physiology laboratory, a fatigue laboratory, a special pulmonary function testing facility, and a near-infrared spectroscopy laboratory (totaling 1,000 ft2). All these laboratories are fully equipped with state-of-the art equipment. We also have 2 examination rooms that are dedicated to the RCTC, and access to an additional shared examination rooms.

The CDCRC also includes secure drug storage and preparation facilities, blood collection and i.v. administration room, a biochemistry lab, freezer room, and a patient reception area. Investigator offices and support areas are also included. All investigators and staff are equipped with computers with high-speed internet access. Office space for research trainees is positioned in close proximity to the investigator’s offices.

Medical Director

Richard Casaburi, PhD, MD is Medical Director, Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center, and the Alvin Grancell/Mary Burns Endowed Chair in the Rehabilitative Sciences at LA BioMed. Over the past 25 years, he has focused on COPD. In 1999, Dr. Casaburi established the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center, a clinical research facility dedicated to improving the lives of COPD patients. Dr. Casaburi has completed more than 50 clinical research studies, including participation in three major NIH multicenter projects. Dr. Casaburi pursued a degree in electrical engineering from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He followed with a master’s degree and doctorate in biomedical engineering, also from RPI, before completing a post-doctoral fellowship in biomedical engineering at USC. Five years after joining the Department of Medicine faculty at Harbor-UCLA, Dr. Casaburi left to pursue his MD at the University of Miami, School of Medicine. He returned to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he completed internship, residency and pulmonary fellowship and rejoined the faculty. He was Chief of the Division from 1998-2004.

Research Faculty

Harry Rossiter, PhD is the Director of Research Training at the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center. His research mission is to improve the lives of patients with chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, through an improved understanding of the integrative physiology of exercise. His lab conducts basic and clinical research, and contributes to industry- and federally-sponsored multicenter research studies. He has trained 11 post-graduate and 9 post-doctoral scientists, and published over 50 original research articles. Dr Rossiter is a Fellow of The American College of Sports Medicine, and on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Applied Physiology, the European Journal of Applied Physiology, and Frontiers in Exercise Physiology. He received a PhD in Physiology from the University of London, and conducted his postdoctoral training at the Department of Medicine at UCSD.

Janos Porszasz, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine, UCLA. He is a core member of the research faculty and Technical Director of the Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Unit. His interests include exercise testing methodology and mechanisms of exercise limitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.