Leader in Early Language Development to Present at UMKC

September is Women in Medicine Month, making the speaker for this year’s William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture especially appropriate. Dana Suskind, M.D., professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago and founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, will speak at noon on Sept. 19 in Theater A at the School of Medicine on “TMW: A Public Health Approach to Early Learning.” The event is open to all UMKC faculty, staff and students.

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.