KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – Brian Boyd, associate professor of occupational science and associate chair for research of the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will assume the leadership of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project (JGCP), a University of Kansas research center located on the Children’s Campus of Kansas City (CCKC), on Feb. 1, 2018. Boyd will be only the third director of the influential research group in its 53-year history. JGCP pioneered research-based interventions to improve outcomes for children and their families in urban core communities.
Boyd’s research interests center on developing innovative, early interventions that address pivotal developmental and behavioral outcomes of children with autism spectrum disorders to increase participation in the home, school and community.
Boyd was previously a fellow and investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC at Chapel Hill. He has been the principal or co-principal investigator of several grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and Institute of Education Sciences to develop and evaluate outcome measures as well as focused intervention practices and comprehensive treatment models for young children with autism.
“We at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project are eager to have Dr. Boyd join us as the new director of our organization,” said Judith Carta, JGCP interim director and professor of special education and senior scientist at KU’s Life Span Institute. “We see him as a bright star among the new generation of autism researchers and one whose expertise in autism and early intervention is a perfect fit for Juniper Gardens Children’s Project. He will continue our rich tradition of developing meaningful solutions for children with developmental disabilities while working in close partnership with families and the community.”
Boyd and his team at UNC have carried out one of the largest treatment comparison studies of preschool programs for children with autism, said Carta. “They were able to show that comprehensive treatment models can make significant changes in the trajectories of children's development but only when practices within the programs were high quality.” The Interagency Autism Coordinating Council of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified this study as one of the important new findings in autism in 2013.
Boyd will also join the faculty of KU’s Department of Applied Behavioral Science. He takes a special interest in mentoring graduate students, even beyond his faculty home at the School of Medicine at UNC at Chapel Hill.
“The applied behavioral science faculty are looking forward to Dr. Boyd’s appointment and continuing our relationship with the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project,” said Florence DiGennaro Reed, associate professor and department chair. “Dr. Boyd’s socially relevant and important research is a wonderful addition to the work the ABS faculty and graduate students pursue. Moreover, we welcome his expertise and contributions to our graduate mission to train scientist-practitioners and researchers.”
Boyd will inherit a thriving research operation of 10 scientists and 35 research support staff members with an annual budget of $4 million. The center was recently awarded $7.5 million in four new grants to promote high-quality early education for a total of 17 grants in its $20 million research portfolio.
“I am extremely pleased to have Dr. Boyd come to Kansas and lead a center whose mission is so central to the Life Span Institute,” said John Colombo, interim vice chancellor for research and director of the Life Span Institute. “Brian’s work fits well with the strengths of Juniper Gardens Children’s Project. I look forward to having his expertise and national visibility to mentor the next generation of scientists and carrying on the center’s longstanding focus on community-engaged research.”
The Life Span Institute is the largest and oldest research institute at KU with 14 affiliated research centers and 104 active externally funded research projects.