Community Conversations: Sharing science in public

Community Conversations: Sharing science in public

The Life Span Institute inaugurated its new Susan Boylan, senior regional director–Midwest, free public forum series, KU Life Span Institute Community Conversations, at the KU Edwards Campus in Kansas City on Tuesday, September 25, 2007.

Considering Autism introduced the newly formed bi-campus Work Group on Autism Research and Training to the public.

The panel of KU researchers, physicians, parent and organizational advocates spoke to the over ow crowd about the foundation of autism research, the impetus for organizing the KU endeavor, and the prospects for future study, practitioner training and family support.

LSI Director Steve Warren (now the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies) introduced the group and briefly recapped the long history of autism spectrum disorder research, training and treatment at KU that underlies this new initiative. Debra Kamps and Matthew Reese, director and co-director of K-CART, followed him. Kamps is a noted autism researcher at the LSI’s Juniper Gardens Children’s Project in Kansas City, Kansas, and Reese is a child psychologist and director of the Center for Child HealthandDevelopmentattheKansasUniversity Medical Center (KUMC).

The other panelists were Judith Carta, parent and senior scientist, Juniper Garden’s Children’s Project; Susan Corrigan, research associate, KU School of Social Welfare; Mike Wasmer, director and co-founder, Kansas Coalition for Autism Legislation; Michele Kilo, section chief, Developmental and Behavioral Science, Children’s Mercy Hospital and co-founder of the Bi-State Autism Initiative and Susan Boylan, senior regional director-Autism Speaks.

Following the presentations, the audience of parents, researchers and educators broke into small groups to discuss their concerns and pose questions individually to panel members. The event was supported in part by the Autism Society of the Heartland, Bill Robinson, president, and a group of parents led by Kirsten Sneid and her husband, Dr. David Sneid, her father and mother, Ralph and Shirley Fearon, Nancy Huerta, Drs. Stuart and Jodi Jackson, Dr. Robert and Anna Leitch, Harry and Madelyn McLear, and Mitch and Kim Morse.

The next Community Conversation at the Edwards campus on a frosty Saturday, February 23, brought together KU and KUMC experts on the other end of the life span. The Aging Brain - Use it or Lose It? was a panel presentation by KU scientists and clinicians who are exploring if and how we can preserve our mental abilities as we age. The panelists gave an overview of this relatively new area of research and helped separate the facts from common misconceptions followed by a lively question and answer session.

The panelists were Jeffrey Burns, M.D., director of the KU Alzheimer and Memory Program, David Johnson, assistant professor of clinical psychology and assistant scientist, Distinguished Professor of Psychology Susan Kemper and senior scientist, LSI Gerontology Center, and Joan Community McDowd, associate director of research, Landon Center on Aging, and professor, occupational therapy education, KUMC. David Ekerdt, director of the LSI Gerontology Center and professor of sociology, moderated the panel.