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Jack Dennerlein, PhD

Professor, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School Of Public Health

Associate Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School

Contact Info

Jack Dennerlein
Harvard School of Public Health
665 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA, 02115
Phone: 617-373-5428


Andrea Sheldon
Physical Therapy
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA, 02115
Mailstop: Robinson 1
Phone: 617-373-4896

DF/HCC Program Affiliation

Cancer Risk and Disparities

Lab Website

Dr. Dennerlein's faculty web-page

Research Abstract

My current research aims to prevent work-related illness and injury, mainly musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) through understanding the injury mechanisms based on hypothesis-driven studies examining biomechanics, neuromuscular, and exposure-response models. My exposure assessment research is based upon biomechanical and injury mechanism principals and utilizes direct measurement techniques to determine mechanical and physiological exposures during work. We have observed exposure-response relationships between daily computer usage and daily MSD symptoms as well as between repetitive wrist and finger activities and physiological responses as measured by muscle fatigue. Based upon pioneering in vivo human tendon force measurements, we have initiated new biomechanics research to determine the functional role of joints, muscles, and tendons of the upper extremity that are susceptible to injury during repetitive tasks. Our approach integrates energy transfer concepts to identify potential injury pathways for the musculoskeletal system. We study the impact of input devices and workstation designs on the biomechanics of the upper extremity. Through this lens we have evaluated the effectiveness of many interventions, such as changes in key switch design, mouse design and work-station design and setup. Our findings have influenced the design of devices available on the market today. Recently we have initiated an intervention study testing the hypothesis that combining ergonomic interventions and work-place health promotion programs will improve musculoskeletal health of health care workers. In addition, we have observed relationships with traffic situations and bicycle injures as well as developed observational tools to quantify compliance to best practices of ladder use in construction. I have participated in systematic reviews of validating exposure assessment methods for physical injury risk factors and work place interventions to prevent work-related upper extremity MSDs. Overall our research is breaking new ground on examining the various aspects of exposure-outcome relationships and interventions in order to prevent work-related MSDs and injury.


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