January 21, 2014

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center announces 2014 Hobbs Discovery Grants

Four Nicholas Hobbs Discovery Grants have been awarded for 2014, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) director Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., announced.

These annual awards are a grant program open to VKC investigators or members. Their purpose is to support multidisciplinary, innovative preclinical or clinical pilot studies in preparation for submitting competitive grant applications to federal agencies or private foundations. The program is made possible by the generous gifts of members of the Nicholas Hobbs Society, the VKC donor society.

For 2014, individual grant awards range from $25,000 to $35,000.

2014 grant projects and investigators are:

• "Quantitative cry acoustics for measurement of pain in neonates: Correlations with cortical nociceptive processing and neurodevelopment" — Stephen Bruehl, (Anesthesiology), Dan France (Anesthesiology), Nathalie Maitre (Pediatrics/Neonatology), Carrie Menser (Anesthesiology)

• "Using novel MRI techniques to provide further biological specificity in reading disabilities" — Laurie Cutting, (Special Education), Seth Smith (Biomedical Engineering), and Sheryl Rimrodt (Pediatrics)

• "Neuronal basis of auditory behaviors after hearing impairment" — Ramnarayan Ramachandran,  (Hearing & Speech Sciences), Troy Hackett (Hearing & Speech Sciences), Jon Kaas (Psychology)

• "Down syndrome behavioral phenotype" — Christopher Lemons,  (Special Education), Seth King (Special Education)

The Down syndrome project is the Team William Discovery Grant. Team William began as an idea to help children with Down syndrome learn to read when Andrea McDermott Sanders (M.Ed., 2008) tutored William Spickard, a young student with Down syndrome.

Now a VKC leadership council member, Sanders and the Spickard families, friends and colleagues have continued raising funds annually as Sanders runs the annual Music City Marathon. The William Hart Spickard-Andrea Blake McDermott Team William Endowment has provided more than 30 scholarships for children with Down syndrome at the VKC Reading Clinic, and now provides this Team William Discovery Grant.

“We are enormously grateful to all our Nicholas Hobbs Society members for their generosity, which makes these innovative pilot grants possible,” Dykens said. “And the Team William Discovery Grant is indeed exciting, the culmination of one decade of fundraising to benefit children with Down syndrome.”