1. MCH Workforce Development
  2. Funded Projects

Funded Projects

The LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh

Project Website

Grant Status: Completed

Training Category: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)

Project Director(s):

Robert Noll, Ph.D
Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
LEND of Pittsburgh at the
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
Children's Hospital Office Building (CHOB), Second Floor
3414 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15213
Phone: 412-692-6530


Early screening, diagnosis/treatment of children with autism related disorders or neurodevelopmental disabilities is vital. We aspire to mentor a new generation of leaders in the field of disabilities who have an increased capacity to evaluate; diagnose; and provide evidence-based interventions.

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1: Provide intensive interdisciplinary leadership education for health care and education professionals regarding children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities including (ASD). Objective 1: Enroll 75 funded long term trainees in the intensive leadership training program from at least 8 core disciplines over a 5-year period including four fellows, 14 long term trainees, and one neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) fellow each year for the five-year project period. Objective 2: Evaluate and improve our "integrated interdisciplinary leadership curriculum" about disabilities and ASD, and provide advanced training related to the ATN Objective 3: Demonstrate the importance of interdisciplinary training in neurodevelopmental disabilities and ASD. Provide a comprehensive curriculum based on MCH principles to all funded trainees related to ASD and audiology. Goal 2: Provide leadership for professionals in training and in the community to increase their knowledge and skills about disabilities and ASD and to create positive attitudes about inclusion. Objective 1: Enroll a minimum of 80 long term unfunded trainees in research, clinical, and community practicums over a five-year period. Enroll a minimum of 80 students in LEND Interdisciplinary courses over a five-year period. Objective 2: Evaluate and improve recruitment of underrepresented minorities and individuals with disabilities for the leadership-training program. Contribute leadership for the Disabilities Initiative at the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and other local institutions (e.g., Duquesne University). Objective 3: Continue to provide training for professionals in training and in practice increasing their knowledge and skills about ASD. Provide ASD training to 20 community groups providing service to underserved populations over a five-year period. Goal 3: Forge partnerships with community-based leaders, organizations, agencies, advocacy groups, and individuals with disabilities for training, program development, research, policy, and systems change. Objective 1: Collaborate with Title V programs in the Bureau of Family Health. Continue collaborative relationships with Healthy Start projects, Office of Child Development, PA Public Health Training Centers, PA Area Health Education Centers, and federally-qualified community health centers within PA. Objective 2: Collaborate with campus or community organizations to host one annual interdisciplinary community education program regarding disabilities (e.g., ASD, sickle cell, audiology, Fragile X). Objective 3: Formalize the use of family members and self-advocates as faculty in LEND training Goal 4: Disseminate information about children with disabilities, leadership programming, public policy, and LEND programs to a national audience. Objective 1: Continue the development of the Pittsburgh LEND website as a regional resource for individuals with disabilities and their families. Objective 2: Produce peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications and products for professionals in the field and for individuals with disabilities and their families. Objective 3: Expand the Pittsburgh LEND website to include national resources for training, program development, program evaluation, and related topics. Use distance learning technology for continuing education.


Leadership education is central and includes didactic courses, clinical experiences at the LEND clinic, community-based clinics, advocacy with parents and consumers, as well as mentored research projects and dissemination. Faculty tailor programs for trainees and work individually with students to create Individual Learning Plans. Our diverse faculty provide direct supervision of our trainees. Within the LEND clinical program, seminars are held biweekly for two hours. Additionally, students, along with faculty, participate in development and dissemination of materials (i.e., ASD, audiology, SCD) both face to face and electronically to Title V prgrams, regional community organizations, and underserved populations in PA and WVA. Students and Faculty provide lectures/seminars in Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, SW, and Depts. Of PT, OT, Communication Disorders, Behavioral and Community Health, and Psychology. LEND's strong collaborative partnerships with the Sickle Cell Center of PGH, Salud Para Ninos, Allegheny Department of Health, Early Head Start, and the Center for Racial & Social Problems provide both a clinical and a community-based training focus on low income and racially and ethnically diverse families. The Families as Mentors program allows students to experience issues from the family perspective. The capstone of the LEND experience is the formal Portfolio Student Presentations, evaluated by all CORE faculty


We maintain close relations with the Autism treatment network (ATN), Autism Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh, CHP Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program, Center for MCH Leadership in Public Health Social Work, and the Allegheny County Health Department, the State Title V program.


We have developed an evaluation rubric consistent with the standards and benchmarks of the MCH curriculum for each of the leadership activities. Faculty meet 2 - 3 times to review each trainee's Individualized Leadership Plan, track their progress and provide formative feedback. 360 evaluations track the clinic experience. Participants in the Families as Mentors program complete evaluations. Students present their Portfolio's in the Spring.