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News from the Shriver Center

Keep up-to-date with our latest news and happenings.

Shriver Center Awarded Five Year UCEDD Grant Renewal

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center at UMass Chan Medical School is extremely pleased to announce the renewal of its five-year University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) grant.  Providing $3M over the next 5 years, this award continues a decades-long funding source of support to further the Shriver Center’s mission to conduct education, research, and services to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families and caregivers.

“The Shriver Center is among the oldest UCEDDs in the country. This core funding enables Shriver Center faculty and staff to conduct their work, leverage external funding to support their projects and programs, and develop new initiatives, all to benefit individuals with I/DD and their families,” said Carol Curtin, PHD, UCEDD Principal Investigator and Director, Professor of Family Medicine and Psychiatry at UMass Chan Medical School.

“In past years, UCEDD funding has been used to launch new programs such as the Insurance Resource Center for Autism and Behavioral Health, our Healthy People/Healthy Communities health promotion research program, and the Pathways to Inclusive Health Care (PIHC), training program, to name a few.  The funding also continues to provide partial support for many other programs and initiatives at the Shriver Center,” Dr. Curtin continued.

The Shriver Center UCEDD is part of a nationwide network comprising 67 UCEDDs across the country. This network is authorized under Public Law 106-402, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, and is funded by the Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD) within the Administration on Community Living (ACL).

Sue Swanson selected as Commonwealth Heroine.

Sue Swanson with State Representative David LeBoeuf

Congratulations to Sue Swanson, Project Coordinator for Pathways for Inclusive Health Care at the Shriver Center! Sue was nominated by State Rep. David LeBoeuf and selected by the Mass Commission on the Status of Women to be a Commonwealth Heroine Class of 2022. She was recognized for her efforts to get the city of Worcester to construct Coes Park, the first multi-generational and universally accessible playground.

Each year the Commission partners with state legislators to honor incredible women who are recognized as leaders and contributors to their community, and are selected because they use their time, talent, spirit, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others. Sue has committed herself to advocating for those with different abilities, promoting authentic inclusivity, and making sure disability equity is at the forefront of community planning. The City of Worcester and Central Mass are a healthier, more inclusive place because of her continued efforts.




Shriver Center Employee Spotlight: Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH

As part of our Employee Spotlight series, Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, MPH recently sat down with us to discuss her professional responsibilities at the Shriver Center, and what makes the Shriver Center such a special place to work.

Q:  How long have you worked at the Shriver Center?
A:  I started in July of 2021

Q:  What is your current job title?
A:   Associate Director for Research

Q:  What does that entail?
A:  I conduct my own research on early autism diagnosis and treatment, and also help others at the Shriver Center conduct their research. In addition, I help think about our research goals across the center, where to focus our resources and energy trying to grow the research we conduct, and how to make sure everything we do is conducted with an equitable, community-focused approach.

Q:  What do you find most rewarding about that job?
A:  I love supporting others in their research, particularly when I get to witness the direct impact of that work on children and families.

Q:  Are you currently working on any research or projects that you would like to discuss?
A: One project I am really excited about is a study called “RISE” (Reciprocal Imitation and Social Engagement). RISE is an NIH-funded multisite network) studying Reciprocal Imitation Training (RIT) a Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention (NDBI) for early social communication delay. The study is embedded in the Part C Early Intervention system across these four states. You can find out more at

Q:  Do you have any additional responsibilities at Shriver?
A:  Not yet!

Q:  Why is working at the Shriver Center meaningful to you?
A:  It is an amazing group of smart, passionate, dedicated people who are working to make the world a better place – I feel so lucky!

Q:  What are some of your passions and interests away from Shriver?
A:  In my personal life, I spend a lot of time with my family. I coach my 8-year old in soccer in Newton, with three practices and one game per week it keeps me pretty busy! My wife coaches my 6-year old twins in soccer, my 8-year old in softball, and all three kids in hockey. I also spend time at my gym, CrossFit Newton, where I recently won the “most pained face” competition!

David Kennedy Awarded $6 Million ReproNim Brain Imaging Grant

UMass Chan Medical School neuroinformatics expert David Kennedy, PhD, has been awarded a five-year, $6 million grant renewal for ReproNim: A Center for Reproducible Neuroimaging Computation. ReproNim aims to improve the reproducibility of neuroimaging science and extend the value of the national investment in infrastructure that supports brain imaging research. UMass Chan is at the forefront of this work, which holds promise for advances in neuroscience.

Link to the full article:$6-million-repronim-brain-imaging-grant/

INDEX COVID-19 Information and Resources

INDEX Takes Leadership Role In Sharing COVID-19 Resources

INDEX, a program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, dedicated to research, education, and service related to developmental disabilities, has taken a leadership role during the COVID-19 pandemic. INDEX’s “Resource List’ presents information about COVID-19, along with its impacts, effects, and preventative measures, geared to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (and their families). This resource offers information about COVID-19 in a variety of ways, including: 

  • Providing documents in “plain language” to assist with readability and comprehension
  • Using illustrations and examples of behavior designed to prevent the spread of COVID 19
  • Highlighting the latest guidance from Massachusetts governmental officials as a verified, reliable, source of information

The resource list is regularly updated, and can be found at:

Spotlight on Patrick Gleason

Patrick Gleason, MA recently sat down with us to discuss his professional responsibilities at the Shriver Center, and what makes the Shriver Center such a special place to work in a “Q & A” format.  Be on the lookout for similar pieces highlighting other Shriver Center faculty and staff in the coming months.

Q:  Why is working at the Shriver Center meaningful to you, Patrick?

A:  I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) at birth.  Growing up, it always felt more important to me that I succeed away from the field of disability, perhaps in one of my other passions, like sportscasting. But my uncle, the late Jim Gleason, worked at the Shriver Center for decades and urged me to apply when a position came open.  Now that I see from the inside just how truly dedicated and committed everyone is to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities, their caregivers, and families, it feels like the perfect fit for me.  

Q:  How long have you worked at the Shriver Center?

A:  I first came on board as a consultant in October of 2007, to be the primary writer for an in-house newsletter being discussed at that time, and to assist with database work.  I officially became an employee in March, 2008.

Q:  What is your current job title?

A:  Research Data Specialist

Q:  What does that entail?

A:  I primarily assist Carol Curtin and Jen Brooks by entering and compiling necessary data for our mandated annual reporting to funding agencies, including UCEDD and LEND. The National Information and Reporting System (NIRS) database stores that data, which can range from tracking grant awards to charting publications to identifying the number of attendees at a presentation someone gave, or anything in between.  

QWhat do you find most rewarding about that job?

A:  Knowing that doing my job accurately and diligently helps secure funding so the Shriver Center can  continue its outstanding work.  It also gives me a window into each person’s specialties and interests.

Q:  Do you have any other responsibilities at Shriver?

A:  Prior to the pandemic, I coordinated emergency preparedness trainings for individuals with disabilities, as part of a team with one of our self-advocate consultants.  I also contribute articles to the Shriver Center website, and am part of a yearly panel to our LEND Fellows on living with a disability.

Shriver Center Researchers Receive Grant From Remillard Family Community Service Fund

Congratulations to the Shriver Center’s Isha Jalnapurkar, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry; Julie LeMoine, assistant professor of psychiatry; and Mo Hammad Modarres, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry. They, along with medical student Linh Nguyen, collaborated on a grant proposal entitled  Enhancing Social Skills for Transition-Age Teens/Young Adults with Autism XR.”

The project is a continuation of LeMoine’s professional interest in the field of virtual reality (VR), and aims to use VR as an enhancement in an already existing social skills program for transition-age individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Click here for more on the team’s work, and  see the full list of other funded projects.



VaxAbilities Vaccine Clinics Underway for People with Disabilities and Sensory-support Needs

VaxAbilities disability-friendly vaccination clinics are now available to ensure that Massachusetts residents with developmental disabilities and other sensory-support needs have the most comfortable and positive COVID-19 vaccination experiences possible. Vaccine appointments at designated disability-friendly locations staffed with trained professionals will provide skilled support to children and adults with disabilities and their family members and caretakers.

The EK Shriver Center Unveils New Website

The E.K. Shriver Center at UMass Medical School is pleased to announce its new website!

The new website represents our most recent effort to ensure that individuals with disabilities, those who care about them, and professionals in the disability community receive accurate, timely, and regular updates about the many ways the Shriver Center works to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

Healthy Weight Research Network (HWRN) Awarded Renewal Of Five Year, $1.25 Million HRSA Grant

Promoting healthy weight, good nutrition, and physical activity participation among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual / developmental disabilities (I/DD) have been the focus of extensive research efforts by the Shriver Center’s Carol Curtin, PhD LICSW, and Linda Bandini, PhD, RD, along with their research colleague Aviva Must, PhD, at Tufts University School of Medicine.