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News from the Shriver Center

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

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.

Dr. David Cochran Awarded Grant to Study Biomarker-Driven Drug Treatment For Autism

Congratulations to the Shriver Center’s David M. Cochran, MD on his recent grant award from the Eagles Autism Foundation. The two year, $400,000 award is slated to begin in FY ’22, and will allow Dr. Cochran and his team to study the potential effectiveness of using the drug gabapentin as part of a biomarker-driven drug treatment for autism.

Shriver Center Awarded Five Year Competitive Renewal of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center is pleased to announce the renewal of its Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program for $3.1M over the next five years.

Funded by the Health Resources Services Administration’s Maternal & Child Health Bureau (HRSA/MCHB), the purpose of LEND program is to provide graduate-level interdisciplinary training to improve the health and well-being of children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. The LEND program prepares trainees from diverse professional disciplines and backgrounds to assume leadership roles in their respective fields, to serve as agents of systems change, to conduct research in the field, and to provide responsive and exceptional interdisciplinary clinical services.

Shriver Center – Occupational Therapy Consults to the New Worcester Red Sox Polar Park on Sensory-Friendly and Accessible Space

This spring, Dr. Mary Beth Kadlec, ScD, OTR/L, Program Director of the UMass Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (CANDO) Clinic and Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, MGH Institute of Health Professions, and Allison Klowan, Doctor of Occupational Therapy ’21 student, provided community service through consultation to the Worcester Red Sox Client Services Team to a sensory-friendly space within the ballpark. Polar Park is the new home of the Worcester Red Sox (“Woo Sox”), previously known as the Pawtucket Red Sox (“Paw Sox”).

AIRC Holds Annual “Celebration Of Champions” Update

Congratulations to the Shriver Center’s own Amy Weinstock and her amazing dedicated team at the Autism Insurance Resource Center on the success of their annual “Insurance Update and Celebration of Champions.”

This event serves as an opportunity to bring together stakeholders and policymakers with family and community members who use the AIRC’s service and expertise to advocate on behalf of their child’s coverage needs. In addition, the event hosts guest speakers and honors individuals who have made notable contributions to this mission during the calendar year.

Emily Rubin Promotes Sibling Work With Media Appearance

The Shriver Center’s Emily Rubin recently took to the airwaves promote her longstanding professional interest in providing support to siblings of individuals diagnosed with physical, intellectual, psychiatric, and/or developmental disabilities.

Rubin appeared as a guest on the Shrewsbury Media Connection program and discussed two separate, individual chapters of her sibling work.