The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Mission

What We Do

The mission of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) for Research on Human Development is to facilitate discoveries and best practices that make positive differences in the lives of persons with developmental disabilities and their families. We are dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities by embracing core values that include:

  • the pursuit of scientific knowledge with creativity and purpose
  • the dissemination of information to scientists, practitioners, families, and community leaders
  • the facilitation of discovery by Vanderbilt Kennedy Center scientists
  • the translation of knowledge into practice

The Center was founded in 1965 at Peabody College as the first nationally designated National Institutes of Health Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. Today, it is part of a national network of 14 centers supported in part since its inception by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 2005, the Center was designated a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Education, Research, and Service by the U.S. Administration on Developmental Disabilities, a network of 67 centers in all U.S. states and territories.

In 2008, the Center assumed administration of the Vanderbilt Consortium LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities), a national network of 52 programs with interdisciplinary training funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Human Resources and Services Administration. The Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), founded in 1998, is also a component of the Center.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has evolved into an interdisciplinary research, training, diagnosis, and treatment institute, embracing faculty and resources available through Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the College of Arts and Science, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, School of Engineering, Divinity School, and Blair School of Music. The Center brings together scientists and practitioners in behavior, education, genetics, and neuroscience to work together in unique ways to solve the mysteries of development and learning.