It is with great sadness that we learned about the death of Professor David B Gray, Washington University School of Medicine at the age of 71 in St Louis, Missouri. Dave was a close friend of SDHI, an inspiring researcher, mentor and disability rights advocate over five decades of his life. Dave came to Dundee twice in the past 6 years and we have worked with many of his excellent postgraduate occupational therapy research students. St Louis Public Radio (please see this link for an impressive vita of his life) has published an impressive testimony of his tremendous achievements and his amazing life. Apart from his relentless strive to improve the lives of people with disabilities through enhancing their participation and equal rights and his encyclopedic scientific mind what inspired those who had the pleasure to meet him most was his generosity and humility. Dave was a patient listener, always open for new ideas, and had a great sense of humour. And he encouraged people to challenge the status quo, the barriers that continue to exist and prevent many people with disabilities from engaging with and benefitting from society. Dave Gray will be missed by so many people around the globe, at a personal level, at a professional level. Thank you, Dave!
For four years now, SDHI has been providing doctoral researchers from the Occupational Therapy (OT) program at Washington University in St Louis with opportunities for a study exchange to learn about the Scottish NHS and rehabilitation and disability-related research in Dundee. A visit in January to St Louis has further strengthened the collaborative research and training partnership between SDHI and St Louis. During the visit research collaborations were explored with regard to environmental accessibility, physical activity, outcome assessment, and assistive technologies for people with physical disabilities. The OT program in St Louis does not only provide students with comprehensive practice opportunities but also with an innovative and creative research environment. Moreover, the close working relationship between the OT program and the independent living organisation Paraquad illustrates how service user led services can incorporate the expertise of rehabilitation professionals to promote independent living, disability advocacy and self-direction.