The Waisman Center's mission is to advance knowledge about human development, developmental disabilities, and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Human Development: The Waisman Center focuses on many aspects of human development, from the molecular and genetic foundations of life, health, disease, and disability, to the physical and mental processes that make up intelligence, to social and family relationships throughout life.
Developmental Disabilities: This term refers to disabilities that occur before the age of 22, affect people's lives in multiple and significant ways, and are expected to last indefinitely. Examples include autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, fragile X syndrome, epilepsy, and mental retardation.
Neurodegenerative Diseases: This term refers to a variety of disorders characterized by a gradual decline in functioning of the central nervous system. Examples are Parkinson's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Alexander disease.
In pursuit of its mission, the Waisman Center incorporates many types of activities in four major areas: research, training, service, and outreach.
- Research: Scientists at the Waisman Center seek answers to many questions about the causes, consequences, and cures of developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases. Examples include: How does the nervous system develop? How are brain structure and function connected? How do we inherit diseases? How does vision developing and school success? How do families with a child who has a disability cope over the life-span? How can we translate new gene and stem cell discoveries into treatments?
Training: Training of undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows occurs throughout the Waisman Center. This training prepares the next generation of researchers, teachers, and health care providers in programs related to people with disabilities or neurodegenerative diseases.
Service: The Waisman Center provides extensive on-site and community-based programs that promote the health, education, well being, and independent living of people with developmental disabilities and their families. Examples include the Center's seven specialty clinics and a preschool where children with and without disabilities learn together, community-based early intervention services for children birth to 3, and a behavioral support program.
Outreach: The Waisman Center shares its resources in many ways-through public lectures and seminars; through consultation to physicians, educators, and other professionals; through an internet web site and resource center specializing in topics related to developmental disabilities; and through articles in professional journals, books, and other publications.
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