This week we learned that our dear friend and colleague, John Westbrook, PhD, passed away after long battle with cancer. Dr. Westbrook was a member of the NIDILRR community for more than 30 years, starting as principal investigator of the Regional Rehabilitation Exchange at SEDL in 1983. He continued to lead key knowledge translation projects at SEDL and, later, the American Institutes for Research (AIR). These projects included the first National Center for the Dissemination of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NCDDR), now the Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR), the Center on KT for Employment Research (KTER), and Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Through these projects, he supported the grantee community in bringing their research out of the lab or clinic and into the hands of service providers and self-advocates. He was committed to strengthening the quality, relevance, and usefulness of disability and rehabilitation research to expand opportunities, choices, and service quality for persons with disabilities and their families. AIR continues to support KTDRR and KTER, furthering Dr. Westbrook’s work in this area.
Dr. Westbrook was an ardent supporter of the international Campbell Collaboration, serving as co-chair of Campbell’s Knowledge Translation and Implementation Coordinating Group (formerly Users Group) and on the Collaboration’s Steering Committee. He also served as a reviewer for the Education Coordinating Group (ECG) and is an author on three Campbell systematic reviews. He worked tirelessly to build a disability presence at Campbell and was instrumental in establishing and chairing the Disability Subgroup under the ECG. Through the NIDILRR-funded Centers on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR) and Knowledge Translation for Employment Research (KTER), he encouraged researchers and professionals in disability and rehabilitation to explore and understand the value of systematic reviews, utilize review findings, and participate in systematic review development process.
Dr. Westbrook was also committed to building community among the NIDILRR grantees. He was a strong supporter of NARRTC, the organization representing NIDILRR grantees, and worked tirelessly to build and strengthen the connections between members of the grantee community. Dr. Westbrook received the Distinguished Service Award from NARRTC in 2016, honoring his work as past-president and supporter of the organization.
John Westbrook was a wonderful friend and a great colleague. He was a warm, caring, and funny individual who was a delight to know. Rest well, sir, we will miss you.