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Callier Center Will Award Biennial Prize to Neurobiological Researcher
March 4, 2019
Dr. Steven Barlow, a neurobiological scientist who has developed systems that facilitate oral feeding skills and overall brain development in premature infants, has been selected to receive the biennial Callier Prize in Communication Disorders.
Dr. Steven Barlow
Barlow is the Corwin Moore Professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, associate director of the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, and director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratories at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Presented by the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at The University of Texas at Dallas, the prize recognizes individuals from around the world for their leadership in fostering scientific advances and significant developments in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders. The award, which alternates between the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology, includes a $10,000 prize.
“It’s a great honor. The Callier Prize is regarded as a very prestigious research award in the field of communication science, and I am very surprised and grateful,” Barlow said.
Barlow’s research focuses on the neurobiology of somatosensory and motor systems in premature infants. He developed the NTrainer System, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2008 and uses innovative pulsed cutaneous stimulation during critical periods of development to facilitate oral feeding skills, overall brain development, and long-term behavioral and learning outcomes.
According to Barlow, the treatment has become a highly effective therapy for jump-starting circuits in a baby’s brain, with many children making the transition to feed within hours or within days of initiating the therapy.
“Dr. Barlow’s important and innovative contributions to research, as well as his scholarly mentoring of a generation of doctoral students, has had an important impact on the professions of communication sciences and disorders and neuroscience.”
“Kids who receive this type of therapy in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] are able to go home roughly 10 days earlier than kids who don’t get the therapy,” he said. “That translates to about $50,000 to $60,000 savings in medical costs [per child].”
His research efforts are very collaborative across communication science, biological engineering, computer science, electrical engineering and medicine. He is the principal investigator on a $2.8 million National Institutes of Health five-year, multisite study to explore the ability of the NTrainer’s stimulation to trigger positive genetic changes as related to six target genes in preterm infants.
“At this stage of our research we’re aiming squarely for translational therapeutics where we can make a rather direct impact on patient care and patient well-being,” Barlow said. A variation of the NTrainer is also being tested to improve brain plasticity in adult stroke patients.
Dr. Thomas Campbell, who is the Ludwig A. Michael, MD, Executive Director of the Callier Center for Communication Disorders and the Sara T. Martineau Professor, said Barlow’s research and scholarly leadership has been significant.
“Dr. Barlow’s important and innovative contributions to research, as well as his scholarly mentoring of a generation of doctoral students, has had an important impact on the professions of communication sciences and disorders and neuroscience,” Campbell said. “We are so pleased to honor his achievements by awarding him the 2019 Callier Prize.”
Luncheon and Prize Conference
Dr. Steve Barlow will receive the Callier Prize at the Callier Cares Luncheon, which brings together advocates, clinicians, researchers and philanthropists to raise money to benefit patients in need through the Callier Care Fund. He also will be recognized at the Callier Prize Conference, where the topic will be “Technological Advances in the Treatment of Speech Disorders across the Lifespan.” Other presenters at the conference include Dr. Jonathan Brumberg, assistant professor of speech-language-hearing at the University of Kansas; Dr. Tara McAllister, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University; and Dr. Jordan Green, associate provost for research at MGH Institute of Health Professions.
The conference is part of the Bruton Conference Series and is made possible through a gift from the David J. Bruton Jr. Charitable Trust. It will take place at the Callier Center in Dallas. To attend, please register online or call Linda Sensibaugh at 214-905-3003.