Kennedy’s other moon shot: The origins of intellectual and developmental disabilities research centers and the Waisman Center

When President Kennedy made his inaugural speech in 1961, there was no mention of initiatives on intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs). Yet, the efforts by his administration and the Kennedy family to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families are one of their most enduring legacies. The Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison bears the indelible fingerprints of those efforts.

At 30, Waisman Center looks to new frontiers

During the past three decades, our understanding of human development – from the womb to old age – has grown in astounding ways. We know more about the causes and consequences of developmental disability and mental retardation than we might have imagined 40 years ago when President John F. Kennedy, two days before his assassination, wired his congratulations to Professor Harry Waisman at the UW Medical School.