One of the greatest challenges of research on rehabilitation of communication disorders is bridging the gap between basic science and clinical practice. Translation of theories, basic research and laboratory-developed rehabilitation protocols to clinical practice is an ongoing process which is challenged by practical differences between laboratory and clinical settings. For eight years, the Eleanor M. Saffra Cognitive Neuroscience Conference (the "Saffran Conference") has aimed to provide a forum in which researchers in basic and applied patient-oriented research, clinical practitioners, academic faculty and students with a common interest in language and other cognitive disorders can share knowledge and skills on each side of the translational 'gap'. This is a one-day conference that includes a morning session devoted to theoretical research in a patient- oriented topic (e.g., reading research) and an afternoon session devoted to applied research in this same area. The afternoon session also includes time for discussion between the presenters and the audience, which includes speech/language pathologists, neuropsychologists, psychologists, neurologists, linguists and students from these various disciplines, all of whom share a common interest in cognitive neuroscience of communication disorders and their rehabilitation. These discussions focus on issues relating to translation of the research to practice. There are two important stages to the implementation process that can be achieved in the context of this conference: (1) Providing education about current theories and practices that are emerging from rehabilitation research and (2) Providing a forum for clinicians and researchers to address the practical considerations involved in translating laboratory developed diagnostic and treatment protocols to clinicl practice. The educational component of this two stage process has been and will continue to be an important contribution of the Saffran conference. To better serve the second stage of research-clinic translation, we are adding a second day to this conference, a workshop devoted to (1) instruction in implementation of diagnostic and treatment research presented at the conference and (2) discussions between practitioners and researchers that focus on generating solutions to difficulties in implementing research generated diagnostic and treatment protocols in a clinical or school setting. This conference is consistently wel-attended by professionals and students nationwide and the feedback has been positive. The addition of the second-day workshop is in direct response to feedback from clinicians expressing a need for more direct instruction in implementing the rehabilitaton protocols presented in the conference. In the past few years, we also have expanded our efforts to include students in this conference with the aim of instilling a translational 'mindset'in these potential researchers and practitioners of the future. As part of this effort, we added a student scholar travel award program last year. Nine awards were made to students from around the country. The feedback from students was very positive, and so we plan to continue this program in the coming years.
The Eleanor M. Saffran Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience and Rehabilitation of Communication Disorders is intended to bring together patient-oriented researchers, teachers, students and clinicians for a dialogue an exchange of ideas that will promote translation of basic research in communications disorders to rehabilitation practices in the clinic or school settings.