Four New and 18 Expanded LEND Programs Announced by MCHB

Programs will Address the Critical Shortage of Trained Personnel in Autism

September 17, 2008

George S. Jesien, PhD
Former Executive Director

The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced funding awards for four new Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs as well as additional funding to 18 existing LEND programs to expand their work in the preparation and training of professionals in a range of disciplines to identify, assess, and provide services for children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.
The resources for the increased focus on autism are the result of the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006. The CAA provides additional resources over the coming three years for research, screening, treatment, and education related to autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities. The CAA law also has a provision to expand existing interdisciplinary training opportunities and to increase the number of interdisciplinary training programs that prepare professionals to diagnose or rule out individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities. The funds are awarded to expand currently existing LEND programs and develop new LENDs in states that do not have such a program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, now affecting one in every 150 children. George Jesien, PhD, Executive Director of AUCD, states, "These new and expanded programs will add significantly to our nation's response to the needs of children with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families. The interdisciplinary training young professionals will receive as a result of these funds is some of the best preparation found anywhere in the world. We would expect many to become our future leading researchers, clinicians, and service providers in the field. These new and expanded programs will significantly help, but we still have a long way to go to fully address the need." The four new LEND Programs are at the following universities:

  1. AR: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  2. CO: University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
  3. CT: University of Connecticut
  4. IL: The University of Illinois at Chicago

The LEND programs receiving additional funding are:

  1. AL: Civitan International Research Center, The University of Alabama at Birmingham
  2. CA: Center for Child/Family Health Initiatives and Leadership Development (The CHILD Center), University of Southern California at Children's Hospital Los Angeles
  3. IN: Riley Child Development Center, Indiana University
  4. KS: Center for Child Health and Development, University of Kansas Medical Center
  5. MA: Institute for Community Inclusion, Children's Hospital, Boston
  6. NC: Center for Development and Learning, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  7. NE: Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  8. NH: New Hampshire LEND Program, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Center for Genetics and Child Development
  9. NY: Rose F. Kennedy Center, Yeshiva University/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  10. NY: Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, University of Rochester
  11. PA: Children's Seashore House of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  12. TN: Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  13. TN: Mid-Tennessee Interdisciplinary Instruction in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital
  14. UT: Utah Rural Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND), University of Utah
  15. VT: VT Interdisciplinary Leadership Education for Health Professionals, University of Vermont
  16. WA: University of Washington LEND Program, Clinical Training Unit, Center on Human Development and Disability
  17. WDC: Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC
  18. WV: Center for Excellence in Disabilities, West Virginia University

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, located in Silver Spring, MD, is a national, nonprofit organization that promotes and supports the national network of interdisciplinary centers advancing policy and practices through research, education, leadership, and services for and with individuals with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities. Detailed information on LEND programs can be found on the pages of