November 18, 2005

Kennedy Center science symposium set

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President John F. Kennedy visited Peabody College in May 1963 to meet those doing research supported by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, preceding the Foundation's matching grant in 1965 to establish the John F. Kennedy Center.

Kennedy Center science symposium set

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development will continue its 40th anniversary celebration on Nov. 30 with a scientific symposium featuring prominent researchers and officials of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The event, which is open to the public, will be held from 1-5 p.m. in the Vanderbilt Student Life Center, located opposite Memorial Gym on 25th Avenue South between Vanderbilt Place and Garland Avenue. A reception will follow.

Participating NIH directors are Duane Alexander, M.D., National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD); Thomas Insel, M.D., National Institute of Mental Health; and Story C. Landis, Ph.D., National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Other speakers and their topics are:

Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, “Positive Psychology and Positive Interventions;”

Carla Shatz, Ph.D., department chair and Nathan Marsh Pusey Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, “Dynamic Interplay Between Nature and Nurture in Brain Wiring During Development;” and

Fred Volkmar, M.D., Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry and professor of Pediatrics at Yale University/Yale Child Study Center, “Understanding the Social Nature of Autism.”

Vanderbilt University Chancellor Gordon Gee, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Harry Jacobson, M.D., and Kennedy Center Director Pat Levitt, Ph.D., will make introductory remarks.

Parking will be available in the 25th Avenue Garage at the corner of Highland Avenue. To reserve a place at the symposium, please RSVP by sending an e-mail to and typing “VKC 1130SLC” in the subject line.

Beginning Dec. 1, audio of the symposium also will be podcast from the Vanderbilt News Service Web site at

The John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Education and Human Development was established in 1965 at the George Peabody College for Teachers.

It was the second NIH-designated research center on mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, and now is part of a national network of 14 centers supported in part since its inception by the NICHD.

In 1979, Peabody College merged with Vanderbilt University, and in 2001, the Kennedy Center became a university-wide research center.

Today the center is an interdisciplinary research, training, diagnosis and treatment institute. Specialists in behavior, education, genetics and neuroscience from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the College of Arts and Sciences and Peabody College are working together to help solve the mysteries of development and learning.

For more information, visit the Kennedy Center Web site at