Waisman Center (WI UCEDD/LEND/IDDRC) Celebrates 40 Years of Advancing Knowledge About Developmental Disabilities

January 29, 2013

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Although its roots are deeper, going back to its earliest iteration as the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Memorial Laboratories in the early 1960s, the Waisman Center this year celebrates 40 years of research, teaching and outreach in the interest of developmental disabilities. Exploring the range of disabilities, the Waisman Center community has helped gather new knowledge on the basic biology, developmental course, prevention, treatment and social context of a highly complex set of human conditions.

The center is named after Harry Waisman, the pioneering Wisconsin pediatrician and biochemist whose work helped inform our understanding of Phenylketonuria or PKU, an inherited form of mental retardation, and its prevention. Like Waisman's early work, the basic science conducted at the center has helped identify key risk factors for developmental disability as well as treatments, and has also shed light about the genetic and environmental causes that give rise to such conditions.

Waisman's scientific passion and advocacy for those with developmental disorders, notes Marsha Mailick (current Center Director), is the archetype for what has become one of the world's leading centers of research, education and outreach on developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases.

"Developmental disability and our understanding of its causes is one of the great research quests of our day," explains Mailick. "We know we have had an impact on the health and quality of life of many thousands of people over the course of our existence. Our hope and intent is to continue that tradition, helping children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families live full, healthy and meaningful lives and to seek new knowledge about the causes, consequences, and treatments for these conditions."

Read more about the Waisman Center and its major accomplishments over 40 years of existence.