Barry S. Willer PhD

Barry Willer

Barry S. Willer


Department of Psychiatry

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Brain Research; Neuropsychiatric Disorders; Neuroscience; Psychiatry

Contact Information
162 Farber Hall
3435 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14214
Phone: (716) 829-2300

Professional Summary:

My research interests include all aspects of brain function although I generally look at issues that involve brain dysfunction. Traumatic brain injury including mild tbi (concussion) fascinate me. My research career has centered on the treatment of individuals living with the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This has included research on family coping strategies and rehabilitation outcomes. One of my current research interests is focused on mild TBI. I am the director of research for the University concussion research center. We have been evaluating the impact of concussion on the physiology of the patient and looking for treatments that help to ameliorate the long-term effects. We evaluated the use of the Balke treadmill test to evaluate readiness to return to play. We found this procedure to be reliable and safe and extremely useful in differential diagnosis of post concussion syndrome. We also completed a fMRI pilot study of individuals with PCS and found that as patients improved in their symptoms and physiologic response to treatment, their brains were more efficient metabolically. They used less energy to accomplish the same task and the foci of activity were more consistent with the demands of the task. We also found that subjects that followed an exercise regime recovered quicker and had brain function more closely aligned with the normal controls.

We have completed two RCTs evaluating the effectiveness heart rate limited exercise as a treatment for concussion in adolescents. Both studies produced similar results. Those prescribed aerobic exercise recovered faster (40% fewer days to recovery) and had less probability of delayed recovery. We have just completed an RO1 to examine changes in the autonomic nervous system that accompany recovery. We are also looking at changes cerebral blood flow that correspond to injury and recovery. We just started a new study that examines selected micro-RNA as potential bio-markers of concussive injury and recovery. We also have just received a substantial award from the Department of Defence to test our exercise based protocol for the treatment of concussed service members. It is very gratifying to think we might be able improve the outcomes for members of military who we are indebted to for their service.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Psychology, York University (1975)
  • BA, Psychology, York University (1971)


  • Adjunct Professor, Neuroscience, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2017-present)
  • Visiting Scholar, Massey University (2007-present)
  • Adjunct Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine, University at Buffalo School of Public Health (2004-present)
  • Professor, Psychiatry, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (1995-present)
  • Interim Executive Director, Ontario Brain Injury Association (1997–1998)
  • Associate Professor, Psychiatry, University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (1982–1995)
  • Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (1976–1982)

Awards and Honors:

  • NABIS Research Award (2012)
  • Blast Injury Institute Board Member (2007)
  • North American Brain Injury Society Board Member (2006)
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award (2004)
  • Lloyd Loynes Award (1992)
  • Faculty Excellence Award (1991)
  • Mental Retardation Research Bursary Award (1972)
  • Mental Retardation Research Bursary Award (1971)
  • Dr. Paul Christie Memorial Bursary Award (1970)

Research Centers:

  • Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC)

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2022–October 2027
    Exercise Reset: Application of the Buffalo Concussion Protocol for the military
    Department of Defence; Defence Health Agency
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • January 2022–December 2022
    Sub-symptom aerobic exercise therapy to improve recovery from acute sport-related concussion: A randomized controlled trial
    NIH: Center on Translational Science Application
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • February 2016–September 2022
    Physiological mechanisms as a biomarker of recovery from concussion
    National Institutes of Health: National Inst of Neurological Disorders & Stroke
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • January 2021–December 2021
    Classifying sports related concussion by symptom profiles
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • September 2019–September 2021
    Exercise Tolerance Testing and Progressive Return to Activity Treatment: Modifying the Buffalo Concussion Assessment and Treatment Protocol for Application in a Military Environment
    US Department of Defence: Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • January 2010–December 2012
    Education of Health Care Professionals On Concussion
    Buffalo Sabres Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 2010–December 2012
    Concussion Education Project
    Buffalo Sabres Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • May 2009–December 2012
    Concussion Education Project II
    Robert Rich Family Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • October 2008–September 2012
    Controlled study of affect recognition training for persons
    National Institue For Disability and Rehabilitation Research
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 1988–January 1993
    Research and Training Center on Community Integration for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury
    National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Reserch
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 1988–January 1993
    Prevention of Chemical Dependency Among Native American Children and Youth on Reservations
    New York State Inter Agency Task Force
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • January 1982–January 1984
    The Role of the Family in the Treatment of the Chronic Mentally Ill
    Veterans Administration Research Grants Program
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 1980–January 1981
    Evaluation of Personal Care Program in Columbia County
    The Office of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities of New York State
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 1976–January 1979
    Evaluation of the Impact of Deinstitutionalization on the Mentally Retarded, their Families and the Community
    HEW Region II, DDO
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • January 1973–January 1974
    Individualized Patient Programming for Psychiatric Patients
    Ontario Mental Health Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
See all (5 more)

Journal Articles:

See all (185 more)

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Willer BS; Intagliata J. (1984) Promises and Realities For Mentally Retarded Citizens. University Park Press.
  • Willer BS; Intagliata J; Wicks N; Bruininks R; Meyers CE; Sigford B; Lakin KC. (1981) Factors Related to the Quality of Adjustment in Family Care Homes. American Association on Mental Deficiency.
  • Willer BS; Intagliata J; Bruininks RH; Meyers CE; Sigford B; Lakin Kc. (1981) A Review of Training Programs for Providers of Foster Care to Mentally Retarded Persons. American Association on Mental Deficiency.
  • Willer BS; Intagliata J; Wicks N; Bruininks CE; Meyers CE; Sigford B; Lakin KC. (1981) Return of Mentally Ill Persons to Natural Families; Issues and Results. American Association on Mental Deficiency.
  • Willer BS; Awad AG; Durost HB; McCormick WO. (1980) Discussion of Stricker‘s Peer Review of Outpatient Psychological Services. Permagon Press.
  • Willer BS; Novak AR; Heal LW. (1980) In: Integration of Developmentally Disabled Persons Into the Community.
  • Willer BS. (1979) Evaluation of a Hospital-based Aftercare Program. U.S.D.H.E.W..
  • Willer BS; Miller GH. (1977) Information Systems for Evaluation and Feedback in Mental Health Organizations. Sage.
  • Willer BS; Miller GH; Cantrel L. (1975) Information and Feedback for evaluation. York University Press.
  • Willer BS; Garwick G. (1975) Relationship of Goal Attainment Scores and Client Involvement in Goal Setting to Therapeutic Outcome. Program Evaluation Resource Center.
  • Willer BS; Abosch S; Dahmer E; Wood R. (1900) Neurobehavioral Sequelae of TBI. In: Epidemiology of Disability From Traumatic Brain Injury. Taylor & Francis Ltd., 18-33.
See all (1 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • North American Brain Injury Society (2006–present)
  • American Congress on Rehabilitation Medicine (1990–present)
  • International Brain Injury Association; IBIA: Organization for professionals interested in brain injury
  • International Paediatric Brain Injury Society; Professionals interested in pediatric brain injury


  • "What we have learned about the use of aerobic exercise to treat concussion" American Congress on Rehabilitation Medicine (2022)
  • "Issues in concussion management in children" International Paediatric Brain Injury Society Conference (2022)
  • "After Recognition Therapy" North American Brain Injury Society (2006)
  • "Post Concussion Syndrome Treatment" North American Brain Injury Society (2006)
  • "How Relatives Influence Social Outcome After Severe Brain Injury" Brain Injury Conference; ; Impace 2000 (2000)
  • "Concept of Community Integration in Brain Injury Rehabilitation" Vejlefjord Center Conference (2000)
  • "Trends in Community Based Rehabilitation" International Brain Injury Association Congress (1999)
  • "Models of Rehabilitation For Acquired Brain Injury" New Zealand Head Injury Society; ; Invited Key Note Address (1994)
  • "Practical Approaches to Rehabilitation" University of Queensland Conference on Brain Injury; ; University of Queensland (1994)
  • "Toward a Definition and Measurement of Handicap" National Institutes of Health Conferences on Functional Assessment of Disabilities (1994)
  • "Enhancing Performance Following Brain Injury Through Environmental Modification" Seventh World Congress of the International Rehabilitation Medicine Association; ; Super Course (1994)
  • "A Model for Community Integration of Individuals with TBI." Second International Conference on Recovery From Brain Injury; ; Invited Keynote address (1993)
  • "Outcome After Brain Injury Rehabilitation: Results From a Multi-Center Study" American Psychological Association; ; Symposium (1993)
  • "The Status of Community Programs for Individuals with Acquired Brain Injury" American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine; ; Annual Meeting (1993)
  • "Assessment of Community Integration After Brain Injury" Community Re-Integration After TBI Conference; Disabled Trust (1992)
  • "Family Issues in Traumatic Brain Injury" American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; ; Issue Workshop 113 (1992)
  • "Conceptualizing and Measuring Handicap" American Congress on Rehabilitation Medicine; American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation annual meeting (1990)
  • "Brain Damage in Young Patients" World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation; World Congress (1989)
  • "Evaluations of the Impact of Rehabilitation Services for Individuals with TBI" Groupe European D'etude Des Traumatises Craniens Et De Leur Reinsertion; ; Medico-Chirurgical Foch (1989)
  • "Case Management for Individuals with Chronic Mental Illness" IV International Congress on Rehabilitation in Psychiatry; IV International Congress on Rehabilitation in Psychiatry (1988)
  • "Brain Injury Rehabilitation Course" Canadian Universities/Massey University in New Zealand; Various Universities in Canada; Taught in 1994
See all (11 more)

Service Activities:

  • Special Interest Group on Concussion for IBIA; Chair (2021–present)
  • Member of the Faculty Council; Back Up Member (2019–present)
  • University appeals committee; Member (2018–present)
  • Member Member of the Advisory Committee to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association 2009 - Present; Advisory Board (2009–present)
  • Member Member, International Affairs Committee, American Congress on Rehabilitation Medicine - 2007 - Present; Board of Directors (2007–present)
  • Journal Reviewer Journal Reviewer for NeuroRehabilitation (Editorial Board, 1996- ); Reviewer (1998–present)
  • Member Member, Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation, brain injury standards development committee - 1997-1998 and trained surveyor for CCHSA 1998-2009; Committee Member (1997–2009)
  • Founding Director Founding Director of the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Toronto, Ontario (1997), and Board Member (1998-2000), Chair of Rehabilitation Committee, Member of Program Audit Committee; Director (1997–2000)
  • Member Member of two US national advisory committees on employment of individuals with disabilities - 1992-1997; Committee Member (1992–1997)
  • Member Member of a committee to plan long term support services for individuals with disabilities for the Clinton administration 1992 - 1993; Committee Member (1992–1993)
  • Service to the Community Served on various community agency boards in New York (including the Health Systems Agency) and in Ontario with a local Association for the Mentally Retarded. Member of the Head Injury Association of Fort Erie from 1989 to 1999. Chair of the Trillium Grant Review Team for the Niagara Region (appointed by Ontario Government, Order in Council) 1999 - 2004; Other (1989–2004)
  • Member Member of the Steering committee for the Department of Psychiatry - 1985 - 1997; Committee Member (1985–1997)
  • Journal Reviewer Journal Reviewer for Mental Retardation (Consulting Editor, 1982 - 1986); Reviewer (1982–1986)
  • Consultant Consultant to Puerto Rico Development Disabilities Planning Council - 1978-1979; Consultant (1978–1979)
  • National Center on Medical Rehabilitation Research; National Institutes of Health (National Center on Medical Rehabilitation Research);; Grant Reviewer
  • National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (US); National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (US);; Grant Reviewer
  • US Department of Education; Rehabilitation Services Administration; Rehabilitation Services Administration (US Department of Education);; Grant Reviewer
  • Centers for Disease Control; Centers for Disease Control; Centers for Disease Control;; Grant Reviewer
  • US Department of Defense; US Department of Defense;; Grant Reviewer
  • DVD: Concussion Management dvd: Concussion Management. Produced for hockey team trainers on the proper mamagement of concussion. Ontario Minor Hockey Association; Teacher
  • Concussion: DVD Concussion: A DVD produced for high schools to educate students and teachers about concussion and concussion management.; Teacher

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Contact Information

162 Farber Hall
3435 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14214
Phone: (716) 829-2300