The goal of this exploratory grant application, referred to as the Vanderbilt Research and Training Center (VRTC), is to improve the functional outcome of children who are at-risk for communicative disorders. The VRTC is commissioned to 1) improve our understanding of this population through basic and applied research; 2) provide research training to individuals of varied disciplines on issues pertaining to at- risk children; 3) provide continuing education to professional groups on at-risk children; and 4) develop a dissemination program for healthcare professionals and the general public. The VRTC is a multidisciplinary program with 29 participating faculty/staff distributed among 11 departments/programs at Vanderbilt University and affiliated healthcare facilities. The research component proposes four projects that will address basic (psychoacoustics, speech acoustics, speech perception) and applied (early intervention, assessment) issues of importance for infants at-risk for communication disorders. In addition, we propose to expand and strengthen our research capability in the area of intervention. The research training component will include the training of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows, as well as the development of a visiting scientist lectureship. We expect to expand our training program in future years by offering a visiting professorship, a unique summer under-graduate employment program for promising minority scientists, and a research rotation with physicians (pediatricians, otolaryngologists). The continuing education component will capitalize on the resources and experiences of Vanderbilt University and the Bill Wilkerson Center and offer programs via Grand Rounds, workshops, conferences, and a special mentoring program. Target populations include primary care physicians, specialists in communication disorders, educators and nurses/nurse practitioners. Finally, our dissemination program will draw on the resources and experiences of the Bill Wilkerson Center, the Ear Foundation and Tennessee Department of Health and Environment to develop radio/TV spots, newsletters, brochures and other materials to parents of young children (especially minorities), the general public, primary care providers and allied health professionals.
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