Kimberly S. Topp, PT, PhD, FAAA

Professor and Chair Emeritus

Email: k[email protected]
Mailing: UCSF, Box 0736, San Francisco, CA 94143


  • BS, Physical Therapy, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, 1981
  • PhD, Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of California, Davis, CA, 1990
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurobiology University of California, San Francisco, CA 1990-1993



Dr. Kimberly Topp is Professor and Chair Emeritus of the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. She held the Sexton Sutherland Endowed Chair in Human Anatomy from the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators for 10 years. Her areas of expertise include anatomy and the application of anatomical knowledge to clinical problems and peripheral neuropathy research. She obtained her BS in Physical Therapy from Northern Arizona University and her PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the University of California, Davis. After completing her post doctoral training in Neurobiology, Dr. Topp joined the UCSF faculty in 1993 and held joint appointments in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and Anatomy.  She has received the American Association of Anatomists in 2010, and Honorary Fellow of The Anatomical Society (Great Britain and Ireland) in 2015. Dr. Topp has held leadership positions in the American Association of Anatomists and American Association of Clinical Anatomists, and is a Past President of the American Association of Anatomists. Although still actively engaged in research, teaching and service, Dr. Topp retired from UCSF in 2018.

Celebrating Dr. Topp


  • PT 400ABC Grand Rounds


  • Structure-function relationships of peripheral nerve; pathobiology and treatment of peripheral neuropathies
  • Application of research findings in the physical therapy clinical population
  • Anatomy education in physical therapy and medicine
  • Interprofessional education


Dr. Topp's areas of research interest are in structure-function relationships of peripheral nerve and in the application of research findings in the physical therapy clinical population. She has investigated chemotherapy induced neuropathy in a rat model and human patients. She and colleagues have evaluated sub-clinical and overt sensorimotor neuropathy in study participants with breast cancer treated with taxanes. They documented the sensory neuropathy and measured the correlation between severity of neuropathy and quality of life, level of pain, and balance impairments. These studies have been funded through a collaboration with Dr. Christine Miaskowski at UCSF. With collaborator Dr. Benjamin Boyd, Dr. Topp investigated structure-function relationships in normal and injured peripheral nerve. Their published findings using human cadavers supported the use of limb positioning sequences in the physical therapy clinic to induce quantifiable nerve strain during evaluation of nerve dysfunction. They also completed an investigation of biomechanics of the sciatic nerve and related symptomatology in study participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Their findings are directly applicable in physical therapy care for this patient population. Dr. Topp's perspectives on nerve biomechanics may be found in the Journal of Hand Therapy, 2012, and Gray's Anatomy, 41st Edition, 2016. Her collaborative work in physical therapist education may be found in Physical Therapy, 2016, and Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 2018.


  • Topp, KS. Nerve Biomechanics. in Gray's Anatomy. The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice, 41st Ed. Elsevier Publishers. 2016.
  • Garcia M, Harmon D, Topp KS. The Anatomy of Gender Affirming Genital Surgery. In Gray's Anaotmy. The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. 41st Ed. Elsevier Publishers. 2017.
  • Heath AE, Altenburger P, Brechter JH, Cleboun G, Jette DU, Pike G, Schilling D, Topp K, Tschoepe B. Developing a tool to assess physical therapist program education quality with engagement theory: The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy Benchmarks for Excellence Task Force. J Phys Ther Educ. 2018. 32:109-117.

View the list on Pubmed


  • Henry J. Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching, UCSF School of Medicine, 2006
  • Commitment to Teaching Award, UCSF School of Medicine, 2006
  • Outstanding Service Award, Academy of Medical Educators, UCSF School of Medicine, 2006
  • Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists, 2010
  • Essential Core Teaching Award, Class of 2013, Outstanding Lecture Series, UCSF School of Medicine, 2010
  • Essential Core Teaching Award, Class of 2014, Outstanding Lecture, UCSF School of Medicine, 2011
  • Fellow (Honorary) of The Anatomical Society (Great Britain and Ireland), 2015
  • Outstanding Service Award, Academy of Medical Educators, UCSF School of Medicine, 2016
  • UCSF Campaign Alumni Award: The Dedicated, Alumni Association of UCSF, 2018