NASM Research Institute

NASM Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In 2006 the National Academy of Sports Medicine in partnership with the University of North Carolina established the NASM Research Institute at UNC (NASM-RI).  In the pursuit of consistently delivering evidence-based health and fitness education, services, and solutions the NASM-RI and its staff perform new research on a variety of exercise interventions designed to improve human movement, health, and performance.

Research performed by the NASM-RI is presented at industry events and conferences, published in peer-reviewed journals, and utilized to develop education programs, application tools, and health, fitness, performance, and rehab solutions.

Research Focus areas:

  • Fitness
  • Performance
  • Rehabilitation/Corrective Exercise
  • Special Populations
  • Nutrition
  • Behavior Modification

NASM-RI Mission

Perform the research necessary to allow NASM to develop safe and effective health and fitness education and solutions to allow individuals to achieve their health and fitness goals.

The NASM-RI is responsible for scientifically investigating, researching and testing exercise interventions to continually support and develop the Optimum Performance Training model for fitness, performance, and rehabilitation.

The scientists of the NASM-RI perform research and systematic literature reviews that investigate the effectiveness of different exercise interventions on measured muscle activation, functional performance, injury risk, injury prevention, and movement patterns.

Research projects consist of, but are not limited to, examining the effects of exercise intervention on posture, muscle activation, functional performance, injury risk, injury prevention, the comparison of performance during different exercises, and various functional outcomes.

The NASM-RI is located on the campus of UNC at Chapel Hill within Fetzer Gymnasium.

Research Team

Darin Padua

Padua is the NASM-RI Chairperson and an assistant professor in the Exercise and Sport Science Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he serves as Program Director of the accredited undergraduate athletic training education program. He is also the Assistant Director of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory. Dr. Padua received his B.S. in Exercise and Nutritional Science with Emphasis in Athletic Training from San Diego State University (1996), his M.A. in Sports Medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1998), and his PhD in Sports Medicine from University of Virginia (2001).

Steve Marshall

Marshall is an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill specializing in sports injury. His research interests are focused on risk factors for sports injury and preventing sports injury. He has addressed risk factors for rugby injury, high school sports injuries in North Carolina, protective equipment in youth baseball, prevention and management of concussions, and risk factors for ACL injury. He has expertise in data analysis, study design and biostatistics. He is also part of the Biostatisitical Services Core at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center.

Kevin Guskiewicz

Guskiewicz heads up the sport concussion program at UNC, while also serving as the Director of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory and Research Director for the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. Kevin's teaching responsibilities include Cadaver Anatomy, Therapeutic Modalities, Human Anatomy, and Research Methods & Statistics in Sports Medicine. Kevin’s research is focused on the assessment of sport-related concussion and the long-term effects of concussion.  He has been the recipient of over 15 funded research grants on this topic, and has published over 45 journal articles and five textbook chapters related to concussion in sport.


  • University of North Carolina, Exercise and Sport Science Department 
  • University of North Carolina, School of Public Health 
  • University of North Carolina, Sports Medicine Research Laboratory