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Friends of the Life Span Institute
The Centers and their inception dates
The Life Span Institute is a center of centers collectively dedicated to discovering research–based solutions for the challenges of human and community development, disabilities, and aging.
Gerontology Center 1990
The Life Span Institute and affiliated academic departments are currently recruiting participants from across the life span for a number of studies including a social skills group for teens with autism and peers and a study to learn more about the work that older people go through to move out of one place and into another.. See below for all the opportunities.
A device invented at KU by a team led by Steven Barlow aids preemies with feeding problems after intubation due to Respiratory Distress Syndrome and holds promise for disability prevention.
Charles Greenwood's life's work in "doing science and doing good" he began in urban Kansas City Kansas at the Juniper Garden's Children's Project was recognized with the Irvin Youngberg Award for Applied Sciences, a Higuchi - Endowment Association Research achievement Award, KU's highest research awards.
Wendy Parent assists transition coordinators at Kansas high schools help young women with disabilities transition to jobs - including self-employment. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Women's Equitable Employment Act Program. A recent success story, Jenny Unrein, was featured in the Topeka Capitol Journal.
John Colombo became the third director of the Life Span Institute, established in 1990, on September 29 after a nationwide search. He had served as LSI interim director since March 1 when Steven F. Warren advanced to the position of vice provost for research and graduate studies at KU.
Colombo is a professor of psychology and was serving as the LSI's associate director for cognitive neuroscience before assuming the interim directorship. Colombo is also a co-investigator and director of the Participant Recruitment Core of the Center for Biobehavioral Neuroscience in Communicative Disorders and the faculty chair of the Human Subjects Committee on the Lawrence campus. He has also served as KU's associate dean of the Graduate School and acting chair of the Department of Psychology.
He joined the KU faculty in 1988 preceded by six years as a postdoctoral trainee and research associate.On July 1 Colombo also accepted the co-directorship of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, a major research component of the LSI for more than 40 years. Colombo replaces Peter Smith, professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the KU Medical Center. Smith replaced Warren as KIDDRC director on the same date.
Colombo's research interests are in the developmental cognitive neuroscience of attention and learning in infancy and early childhood. His research on infant nutrition and cognitive development with Susan Carlson, professor of dietetics and
"The Life Span Institute brings together leading scientists at KU in the interest of furthering our understanding of human development, aging and disabilities," said Colombo. "The institute has been a clear and positive influence in my own research career, and I am both honored and humbled to be named as its director."
Not even a blustery, rainy fall morning could dampen the spirits of nearly 250 people who attended the formal groundbreaking ceremony for the Children's Campus of Kansas City that will house several community services and programs serving families and children in Wyandotte County.
Leaders representing the University of Kansas, the KU Medical Center, county, city and state government, the U.S. Congress and the private sector joined children and parents to officially begin the $15.5 million construction project. The campus will include a three-story 72,000 square-foot facility on 3.5 acres at the corner of 5th Street and Minnesota Avenue. The three major tenants will be KUMC's Project Eagle, LSI's Juniper Gardens Children's Project and the Family Conservancy.
Martha Staker, director of Project EAGLE and chief executive officer of the Children's Campus, announced that the Board of Directors has already raised 90 percent of the funds needed for the project, including what Staker described as "$11,000 in small bills from families and program staff."
The venture represents a historic cooperative venture of several agencies and programs serving children, youth and families under one roof in the urban core of Kansas City, Kan. Joe Reardon, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, said, "This is the right spot for this campus, at the center of our city. I can't think of a better message to send than that we care about our children."
Staker said the building should be completed by January 2010.
The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART), has awarded its first pilot discovery grants to KU/KUMC autism researchers. K-CART, launched in July 2008, committed to supporting intramural pilot projects to attract researchers - especially younger scientists and new collaborations between established investigators - to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. This was made possible by a combined KU/KUMC five-year $1 million contribution.
Funding for pilot research is scarce but data from such studies is often critical to win external support from government and private funders.
The award winners competed for the $25,000-$40,000 grants that recognize original empirical research that will advance scientific knowledge and contribute to the overall competitiveness of K-CART for external funding.
"K-CART is committed to the discovery of new information and dissemination to impact people with autism. The awardees exemplify collaboration among disciplines and across campuses to address the complexities and challenges in autism spectrum disorders," said Debra Kamps, K-CART director.
A Discovery Grant will enable Kathryn Ellerbeck and Jill Jacobson to explore the possible effects of hormones and the environmental toxin Bisphenol A (BPA) on the expression of genes that may be related to autism. In earlier research, Ellerbeck and Jacobson found evidence of increased expression of two genes that control the expression of G-proteins. G-proteins are important for transmitting signals from neurotransmitters like oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine from the cell surface into the cell. One of the genes is one of a number of genes known to be "imprinted". Imprinting refers to the chemical modification of the DNA that affects how or whether those genes are turned on. Imprinting defects are known to be important in syndromes often associated with symptoms of autism, including Rett Syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome.
The researchers hypothesize that exposure of the fetus to abnormal levels of hormones in the womb can permanently alter imprinting and how genes are turned off and on as the brain develops. If normally silenced genes are switched on, the result may be abnormal nerve signaling and autism. Ellerbeck and Jacobson, both physician-researchers, have a cross-institution collaboration representing KUMC, Children's Mercy Hospital, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Ellerbeck is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician at KU’s Center for Child Health and Development with expertise in the diagnosis and management of children with autism. Jill Jacobson, MD is a Professor of Pediatrics/Endocrinology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.
Cary Savage, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at KUMC, Christa Anderson, doctoral student in cognitive psychology at KU Lawrence and John Colombo, professor of psychology and LSI director, will explore pupil and neural responses in children with ASD. The project expands on previous findings that showed that the pupils of children with ASD decreased when viewing images of the human face conducted by Anderson and Colombo. Savage, who is the director of functional MRI at KUMC's Hoglund Brain Imaging Center, is partnering with them so the researchers can measure responses of the pupils and corresponding brain regions of eight 10-year-old children with ASD to face and non-face photos. The long-term research goal is to identify the primary source of ASD neural impairment.
Assistant Research Professor Kathy Thiemann-Bourque will continue her promising research into increasing communication of children with ASD with their typical peers. About one-third to one-half of children with ASD do not develop functional speech. Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) systems allow these children to give and receive messages but are mostly used in communication between an adult and a child. Theimann-Bourque has developed a "script" of text and graphic cues that will teach preschool children with ADS and their typical peers to communicate with each other within an AAC system. She will use this pilot data from the Discovery Grant to apply for external federal funding.
Winnie Dunn, professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy Education at KUMC, will conduct an innovative study to identify and validate methods for behavioral assessment that reflect brain activity of individuals with ASD focusing on sensory processing, temperament and brain activity. She will collect data to apply for two federal grants for a larger study and a series of intervention studies that identify which children are more receptive to specific interventions based on their neurobehavioral patterns.
Hugh Catts, professor and chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, has received the 2008 Samuel T. Orton Award from the International Dyslexia Association. The award is the association's highest honor and recognizes Catt's career contribution to the scientific understanding of dyslexia. Catts research interests include the relationship between spoken and written language development and disabilities.
An article co-authored by Mabel Rice, the Fred and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies, will receive the Editor's Award for the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research (JSLHR) at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, held November 20-22 in Chicago.
The article, "Late Language Emergence at 24 Months: An Epidemiology Study of Prevalence, Predictors and Covariates," was published in the December 2007 issue of JSLHR. In addition to Rice, coauthors were Stephen Zubrick and Catherine Taylor, Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, and David Slegers, a research assistant for Rice. The article suggested a strong role for neurological and genetic factors in late language development across variations in maternal and family characteristics.
The Editor's Award recognizes the best article appearing in JSLHR for the previous calendar year, based on such factors as experimental design, educational value, scientific or clinical merit, contribution to the professions and theoretical impact. Rice also won the award in 1995.
Rud and Ann Turnbull, the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professors and co-directors of the Beach Center on Disability, have created a fellowship for doctoral students and researchers in honor of their son, Jay Turnbull.
The $26,000 gift to the KU Endowment Association is in tribute to Jay Turnbull's success as a KU employee. Jay has intellectual disabilities and autism works as a office and clerical assistant at the Beach Center. "We wanted to honor our son, who has worked at the University of Kansas for 20 years and who has been welcomed into this community everywhere he has gone," Rud Turnbull said.
The gift was also given in appreciation for the Turnbulls' professional opportunities at KU and the Beach Center and for the education their two daughters received at KU.
Jay Turnbull is 41 years old and has lived on his own since the age of 22, with support from family and friends. Steven Warren, vice provost for research and graduate students, described Jay Tunrbull as "an excellent employee who has made lasting friendships with co-workers."
Four LSI projects are recruiting participants from across the life span:
Communication success and AAC: A model of symbol acquisition is a longitudinal study testing the relationships between variables and three different outcomes – symbolic vocabulary development, communication success and symbol substitutions. The study is recruiting 100 young children with developmental disabilities and 20 young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who are learning augmentative or alternative communication (AAC). This research is expected to produce the largest data set collected thus far from a prospective study of young children learning AAC. The project is recruiting children in the greater Kansas City area, Lawrence, Topeka and Wichita for in- school observations and in-home standardized developmental assessments. Family and school staff participants will receive a stipend. There is no intervention with this study -- just observations over a two-year span. All preschool participants must: 1. Be between the ages of 3-5 years at the start of the study 2. Not be speaking or, if speaking, using approximately 15 or fewer words 3. Be learning to communicate using sign language, picture/object selection and exchange, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), or Voice Output Communication Aide (VOCA). For more information contact Project Directors Nancy Brady or Kathy Thiemann.
The KU Autism Social Skills Group is currently recruiting participants for research projects. The group serves adolescents with autism ages 11-18, and meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 on the KU campus. Both adolescents with autism and typically-developing peers are welcome. Social Skills targeted include: general social skills, conversational skills, emotion skills, school-readiness skills, and game/play skills. Participant prerequisites: Strong receptive language required, strong expressive language preferred, willingness to attend regularly, absence of an immediate history of severe aggression, self-injury, or disruptive behavior. If you are interested in participating, please contact Wes Dotson at email@example.com or Justin Leaf at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The KU Language Across the Lifespan Project, directed by the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Psychology Susan Kemper, is conducting research on how aging affects the ability to do two things at once. Participants will play a simple game to test how well they can dual-task. The project is recruiting individuals 60 and older and pays $10 per hour for two hours plus compensation for driving to Lawrence for out-of-towners. The lab is in a convenient West Lawrence location with easy parking. Please call and leave a message at 785 864-0746 or email: email@example.com.
The Household Moves Project: Research about downsizing possessions in later life is recruiting individuals 65 and older to learn more about the work that older people go through to move out of one place and into another. There is a special interest in learning about how people make decisions about their possessions during such a move, particularly in how decisions are made about what items to keep, discard, give away, or sell. The project is recruiting volunteers to interview in Lawrence, Kan., and the greater Kansas City area as well as in the greater Detroit area. The project is interested in talking to persons aged 65 and over who: moved in the last 4 to 8 months and were involved in at least some details of the process. If you are interested in participating in this study or would like further information, please contact us at the "Household Moves" Project Office: 785-864-0665 or the project director, Professor David J. Ekerdt.
The Kansas City Young Matrons will hold their 2009 "On the High Seas" Magic Ball Benefit on January 24, 2009 at the Downtown Marriott. The "On the High Seas" Magic Ball will benefit the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training. The black tie event will have cocktails, dinner, dancing to the live music of Pacific Express, auctions, and raffles. Tickets start at $150.00 per person. Co-Chairs and Honorary Chairs for the event live in Leawood. Debbie Beeler and Barbara Messner are the Co- Chairs. Honorary Chairs are Adam and Sharon Bold. Adam is founder of the Mutual Fund Store. The Kansas City Young Matrons is a local philanthropic and educational organization of more than 300 members which has served Our Town for 91 years. Contact Barbara Messner 913-338-4078 firstname.lastname@example.org or Debbie Beeler 913-469-8618 for more information,
Three scientists with the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART) were panelists at an autism conference held in Overland Park, Kan. that was filled to capacity.
Debra Kamps and Matthew Reese, K-CART director and co-director, respectively, and Kathryn Ellerbeck, a developmental pediatrician affiliated with K-CART, were among the presenters at a on autism spectrum disorders held October 16-17 at Johnson County Community College (JCCC). Close to 200 people attended the free event, which is sponsored annually by JCCC.
Kamps discussed the K-CART mission and vision and explained five effective intervention strategies for children on the spectrum. Ellerbeck spoke about the diagnosis and treatment of autism and the need for pediatricians to have a sold understanding of developmental disabilities in general. Reese outlined the history of treating autism and what approaches have been found to be most successful.
The conference was geared to family members, educators, trainers and others who support children and adults with autism.
A 1993 graduate of the Child Language Doctoral Program at KU who is now a faculty member of speech-language-hearing in South Korea has returned to her American alma mater this year as a visiting scholar.
Soyeong Pae, a professor at Hallym University in Chuncheon, is working with former adviser Mabel Rice, director of the Child Language Doctoral Program, on language acquisition research projects, including the development of assessment tools in Korean. Pae is the incoming president of the Korean Academy of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework in language acquisition, child language disorders and multi-cultural issues in language disorders
According to Pae, the field of speech-language pathology is relatively young in South Korea but has grown dramatically in the last 20 years. The organization she will head now has more than 1,000 members as opposed to only a handful two decades ago.
The heightened interest is a mixed blessing for faculty. In addition to her teaching, Pae supervises 10 doctoral students.
Cultural changes are bringing new challenges to the field, Pae said, with the increasing immigration of Southeast Asians to Korea, especially those from the Philippines, Vietnam and China. "We are seeing more multicultural families where children appear to have language delays but who may just need more time to catch up," she said.
One of Pae's goals is to adapt the Test of Early Grammatical Impairment by Rice and Kenneth Wexler for Korean speakers.
Presented annually to a company organization that makes a significant contribution to the mission of public health and environmental improvement in Kansas, the award recognizes the Work Group's Community Tool Box.
A young woman with Asperger's Syndrome has been honored by her classmates at Blue Valley North High School in Leawood, Kan., who designated their class gift to the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART) as a tribute to her.
The 2008 senior class raised $2,500 to honor the accomplishments of Elizabeth Boresow, who barely spoke when she started high school. She gave a speech to a crowd of 400 people at graduation.
Boresow enrolled at KU this fall with 30 credit hours already earned through advanced placement and community college classes. A music therapy major, she also is a member of the KU Marching Jayhawks.
Project Development (Paul Diedrich)
New Awards (not previously funded) Information
1. Wendy Parent received a new, one-year award "Association for Positive Behavior Support Web Development/Maintenance" from APBS that began April 1, 2008.
2. Debra Kamps received a new, five-year subcontract award "Center for Secondary Intervention" from Lehigh University, prime contractor to DE that began July 1, 2008.
3. Joseph Donnelly, Bryan Smith, Debra Sullivan, Cheryl Gibson, Matthew Mayo and Robert Lee received a new, one-year award "Effects of Visible Cheese on Consumption of Food Groups to Encourage" from Dairy Management, Inc. that began August 1, 2008.
4. Steve Fawcett and Jerry Schultz received a new, one-year award "Spanish Translation of the Community Tool Box" from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that began August 1, 2008.
5. Rachel Freeman received a new, four-month award "Online Module Development and Information Technology Planning in School-Wide Positive Behavior Support" from the KsDE that began August 15, 2008.
6. Amy McCart received a new, three-year award "Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: Implementing Effective Evidence-Based Practices in Community Agencies Meeting the Needs of Families with Co-Occurring Behavioral and Mental Health Disorders" from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City that began August 25, 2008.
7. Nancy Hamilton received a new, three-year award "Fibromyalgia and Sleep Treatments" from NIAMS that began September 1, 2008.
8. David Lindeman, in collaboration with Suzanne Hawley at University of Kansas School of Medicine – Wichita, received a new, three-year award "Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities Among Children with Epilepsy in Rural Populations" from AUCD that began October 1, 2008.
9. Jane Wegner received a new, four-year award "Communication, Autism and Technology" from DE-OSERS that will begin January 1, 2009.
There are a few more proposals where we are awaiting award documents and/or have a high probability of being funded, that we hope to report on in the next issue.
Past Submissions not Previously Reported
1. Rachel Freeman submitted a new, four-month proposal "Online Module Development and Information Technology Planning in School-Wide Positive Behavior Support" to KsDE on July 15, 2008.
2. Sara Sack submitted her eleventh-year, progress report "Tiny K – Infant Toddler Assistive Technology Services" to KsDH&E on August 1, 2008.
3. Ann and Rud Turnbull and Matthew Stowe submitted a new, five-year proposal "National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities at the Beach Center on Disability, the University of Kansas" to DE-OSERS on August 14, 2008.
4. Bryan Smith, Joseph Donnelly, Todd Little, Cheryl Gibson, Debra Sullivan and K. Allen Greiner submitted a new, one-year proposal "A Comparison of Minimal Contact Weight Management Programs for Individuals with Impaired Fasting Glucose in Rural Kansas" to the KUMC/Great Plains Diabetes Institute on August 14, 1008.
5. Wayne Sailor and Amy McCart submitted a new, five-year proposal "OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports" to the University of Illinois, prime contractor to DE-OSERS, on August 20, 2008.
6. Jerry Schultz submitted his seventh-year continuation "Community Monitoring Documentation System" to KsSRS on August 22, 2008.
7. Glen White submitted his fifth-year subcontract continuation "RRTC on Health and Wellness for Persons with Long Term Disabilities" to Oregon Health and Science University, prime contractor to DE, on August 22, 2008.
8. Kathleen Baggett, in collaboration with Ed Feil at the Oregon Research Institute, submitted a new, two-year proposal "Expanding the Reach of Evidence-Based Interventions for Improving Social-Emotional Outcomes for Infants in Child Care" to DE-OSERS (84.327A-Steppingstones) on September 4, 2008.
9. Jay Buzhardt and Charles Greenwood submitted a new, two-year proposal "Taking Data-Based Decision-Making on the Road: Developing Handheld Progress Monitoring Tools for Infant and Toddler IGDIs" to DE-OSERS (84.327A-Steppingstones) on September 4, 2008.
10. Matthew Stowe submitted a new, two-year subcontract proposal "National Clearinghouse and TA Center on Family Support" to the Arc of the United States, prime contractor to HHS-ADD, on September 10, 2008.
11. Matthew Stowe submitted a new, two-year subcontract proposal "National Clearinghouse and TA Center on Family Support" to the Human Services Research Institute, prime contractor to HHS-ADD, on September 10, 2008.
12. Chris Smith submitted a new, one-year proposal "Kansas Early Learning Collaborative (KELC) – Evaluation Project to the Kansas Head Start Association on September 22, 2008.
13. Martha Hodgesmith submitted her second-year continuation "What Health and Safety Personnel Need to Know to Assist Persons with Disabilities in Being Prepared" to KsDH&E on September 23, 2008.
14. Dean Williams and Kathryn Saunders resubmitted their five-year subcontract proposal "Translational Analyses of Chronic Aberrant Behavior Across the Life Span – Projects 1 and 3" to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, prime contractor to NICHD on September 25, 2008.
15. Ric Steele and Ann McGrath-Davis submitted their fourth-year continuation "Effectiveness of a Treatment for Pediatric Obesity" to HHS on September 26, 2008.
16. Bryan Smith, Joseph Donnelly, Todd Little and Richard Washburn submitted their new, one-year proposal "Mechanisms of Weight Change in Women after Diagnosis of Breast Cancer" to the KU Cancer Center on September 20, 2008.
17. Steve Fowler submitted his twentieth-year continuation "Biophysical Study of Antipsychotics' Behavioral Effects" to NIMH on October 1, 2008.
19. Judy Carta submitted a new, five-year subcontract proposal "Preventing Child Neglect: Cell Phone Enhanced Parent Training" to University of Notre Dame, prime contractor to NICHD, on October 1, 2008.
Four new DE-IES proposals were submitted on October 2, 2008 and included:
20. Kathleen Baggett's three-year proposal "Expanding the Reach of Evidence-Based Interventions for Improving Social-Emotional Outcomes for Infants in Child Care" (Topic 1; Goal 2);
21. Maura Linas, Howard Wills, Debra Kamps and Jay Buzhardt's three-year proposal "Professional Development that is Systemic, focus on Teacher growth, Incorporates Coaching, collaboration, cohorts and increased Knowledge to create Student Success (STICKS)" (Topic 7; Goal 2);
22. Jean Ann Summers and Susan Palmer's three-year proposal "Building Foundations for Self-Determination in Young Children with Disabilities: Developing a Curriculum for Families" (Topic 1; Goal 2); and
23. Nina Zuna's one-year proposal "Predictive and Descriptive Analysis of the Cognitive, Behavioral and Social-Emotional Characteristics in Young Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities (Topic 1; Goal 1).
24. Steve Fawcett, Jerry Schultz and Jomella Thompson submitted a new, five-year RO1 proposal "Participatory Research to Reduce Underage Drinking and Drug Abuse in Kansas" to NIH on October 5, 2008.
25. Sara Ferguson submitted her second-year progress report "Acoustic Correlates of Clear Speech" to NIDCD on October 15, 2008.
26. Rachel Freeman submitted her eighth-year continuation "Kansas Institute on Positive Behavior Supports" to KsSRS on October 15, 2008.
27. George Gotto submitted a new, one-year proposal "Harvesting Family Wisdom through an Online, Multi-Media Community of Practice" to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on October 15, 2008.
28. Chris Smith submitted his second-year continuation "Technical Assistance Services (Data Management and Mental Health Consultation) to the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program, Inc. on October 22, 2008.
29. Holly Storkel and Jill Hoover will submit their second-year F31 progress report "The Interface Between the Lexicon and Morphology in SLI" to NIDCD on November 1, 2008.
30. Kathleen Baggett and Judith Carta, in collaboration with Susan Landry at the University of Texas Health Science Center and Edward Feil at the Oregon Research Institute, will resubmit their three-year, RO1 proposal "Father Involvement Focused on Parent-Infant Program for Reducing Child Maltreatment" to NIMH on November 5, 2008.
31. Yo Jackson and Todd Little will resubmit their RO1 proposal "Testing Determinates of Resilience: Child Maltreatment and the Development of Adaptive Behavior" to NIMH on November 5, 2008.
32. Mabel Rice, in collaboration with Shelly Smith at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, will resubmit her five-year renewal "Morphosyntactic Abilities of SLI Probands" to NIDCD on November 5, 2008.