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Leader in early language development to present 2019 Sirridge Lecture

Dr. Dana Suskind

Dana Suskind, M.D., a 1992 graduate of the School of Medicine and nationally recognized leader in early language development, will present to 2019 William and Marjorie Sirridge Annual Lecture on Sept. 19.

A professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago, Susknid is the director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program and founder and co-director of TMW (Thirty Million Words) Center for Early Learning + Public Health.

As a surgeon performing cochlear implants in children, Suskind realized her patients’ language skills developed at far different rates. Through her research, she discovered that children who thrive hear millions of words during their early years and wrote a book on her work, Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain.

Through her Thirty Million Word Initiative, she developed an evidence-based intervention program that is intended to reduce the language gap between children in lower-income families and wealthier households. The program combines education, technology and behavioral strategies for parents and caregivers to enhance the verbal interactions with their children.

Following medical school at UMKC, Suskind completed her residency at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and a fellowship at Washington University Children’s Hospital.

She has received many awards for her work including the Weizmann Women for Science Vision and Impact Award, the SENTAC Gray Humanitarian Award, the LENA Research Foundation Making a Difference Award, the 2018 Chairman’s Award from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the John D. Arnold, M.D., Mentor Award for Sustained Excellence from the Pritzker School of Medicine.

William T. Sirridge, M.D., and his wife, Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., two of the UMKC School of Medicine’s original docents, viewed the humanities as an essential part of a students’ medical training. In 1992, they established the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics to merge the humanities with the science of medicine. Today, the school recognizes their dedication, compassion and advancement of patient care and medical education in Kansas City with the William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture.