The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) facilitates discoveries and best practices to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. More than 200 faculty affiliated with Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are engaged in multidisciplinary research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination. The VKC’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) works to improve assessment and treatment services for children with autism while advancing knowledge and training.
Ketamine’s Antidepressant Effects
The Promise of Discovery Season 2, Episode 1:
The research discussed in this episode focuses on how low doses of the drug ketamine produce fast and long-term antidepressant effects and identifies the gene (MeCP2) and processes in the brain that are involved.
VKC Researcher: Lisa Monteggia, Ph.D., Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute; Professor of Pharmacology
Interviewer: Jeffrey L. Neul, M.D., Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair and Director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center; Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology, Pharmacology, and Special Education
Drug discovery in academia: Testing a potential new therapeutic for Rett syndrome
The Promise of Discovery Episode 14:
This episode outlines research focused on a new treatment strategy for Rett syndrome and related disorders, tests the hypothesis that there may be specific Rett syndrome populations that are most likely to respond effectively and safely to the treatment, and discusses specific biomarkers, like EEG, that might be used to test how the brain responds.
VKC Researcher: Colleen Niswender, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor of Pharmacology; Director of Molecular Pharmacology, Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery
Interviewer: Sheryl Anne Vermudez, Graduate Student in Pharmacology, Niswender laboratory
Brain mechanisms underlying skilled reading in children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Promise of Discovery Episode 13:
Many deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children struggle with reading and the severity of the impairment for some children increases with age. Despite this, we know very little about the brain mechanisms for successful reading in DHH children and do not know why some DHH children are good readers and other are not. The research discussed in this episode uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 10- to 15-year-old hearing children as well as in DHH children with predominant signed language, predominant oral language, or bimodal (signed and oral) language. The longitudinal approach follows children two years later and allows an investigation of how reading gains are related to brain changes over time and whether this varies with age.
VKC Researcher: James Booth, Ph.D., Patricia & Rodes Hart Chair and Professor of Psychology & Human Development
Interviewer: Daniel Devor, project coordinator, Brain Development Lab.
Watch the video of the podcast with ASL interpretation at:
Examining pubertal timing in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder
The Promise of Discovery Episode 12:
New research from the lab of VKC Investigator Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., suggests girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience puberty earlier than their typically developing peers. Findings prompt a need for enhanced understanding of pubertal development in individuals with autism and new supports and treatments to address matters associated with this transitional period.
VKC Researcher: Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Psychology
Interviewer: Rachael Anne Muscatello, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Educating parents of young adults with autism on the transition to adult services
The Promise of Discovery Episode 11:
ASSIST – Advocating for Supports to Improve Service Transitions – is a program that trains parents of young adults with autism on services that are available in the community and empowers them to advocate for their child to help them successfully transition to adulthood.
Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Researcher: Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Interviewer: Janet Shouse, Program Coordinator, IDD Toolkit; Study Coordinator, Project ECHO Autism Adult Healthcare
Effects of Paid Work in High School on the Employment Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities
The Promise of Discovery Episode 10
Equipping students with severe disabilities for the world of work has been the longstanding emphasis of transition education. Adolescence is a critical period for employment preparation, yet too many young people with disabilities do not have access to paid work during high school. This episode explores a study that is gathering perspectives on barriers to and facilitators of paid employment for youth and young adults with severe disabilities.
Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Researcher: Erik Carter, Ph.D., Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and Professor of Special Education; Co-Director, VKC University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
Interviewer: Caitlin Bernstein, Research Analyst, Next Steps at Vanderbilt