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Funded Projects

University of Pittsburgh LEND Center (LEND-Pitt)

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

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

Project Director(s):

Amy Houtrow, MD
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
3414 Fifth Avenue
Oakland Medical Building
Pittsburgh, PA  15213
Phone: 412-692-6300 F


The prevalence of neurodevelopmental disabilities and autism related disorders is on the rise. A family-centered life course model for early screening, diagnosis, and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental disabilities (DD) is vital so that evidence-based interventions can be provided to address unmet needs for services and reduce disparities. We aim to mentor a new generation of leaders who have an increased capacity to evaluate and provide evidence-based interventions to individuals with ASD/DD. Cultural humility, increasing trainee diversity, and focusing on systemic and health inequities are target areas addressed through training and collaborations. By incorporating a person/ family-centered voice, trainees learn to apply strategies on interdisciplinary teams with the purpose of improving the health of people with (or at risk for) ASD/DD across the lifespan.

Goals and Objectives:

To provide intensive balanced interdisciplinary academic, clinical and community-based leadership education that is family-centered and culturally sensitive to a diverse group of emerging leaders; to disseminate information and provide technical assistance; and to engage in community collaborations. The five-year goal is to enroll 90 long-term trainees from over 10 core disciplines; as well as 300 medium-term trainees and 400 short-term trainees through faculty sponsored courses and outreach initiatives. We will advance our well-established community and national partnerships, advocacy, educational, and outreach efforts to address the objective of improving systems of care for people with disabilities with the ultimate goal of improving health and well-being.


Our diverse faculty provide an intensive academic and experiential curriculum that incorporates the Maternal Child Health Leadership competencies. Robust clinical and community-based activities are strengthened by family and community-based mentoring. Through an individualized leadership plan, trainees focus on advocacy, policy, and clinical skill building and contribute to LEND's ongoing health system-wide efforts. Established traineeships for Family and Advocacy disciplines utilize in person and virtual learning opportunities. Engaging diverse faculty and trainees strengthens our outreach and efforts to address inequitable access to high quality evidence-based serves for people with ASD/DD.


Based at the University of Pittsburgh, we maintain close relations with the Pittsburgh Autism Learning Health Network, other graduate programs, community-based and national organizations, and coordinate with the State Title V program. Student and project activity data related to each program objective are regularly collected and analyzed in relationship to proposed targets. The Program also collects and reports MCH Discretionary Grant Performance Measures and other required MCH tracking data.