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Translating research to change the way ​America ​​cares for ​​children, ​families and communities.

We are internationally recognized as a leader in clinical and research programs focusing on childhood deafness, developmental language disorder, and related communication disorders. In 2013, we began a new frontier in neurobehavioral research using brain imaging techniques to better help diagnose and treat troubled children with severe behavioral and mental health problems.

Areas of ​Research

 

 

Balance ResearchDoctor doing Vestibular Reseach https://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/balanceBalance Research
Center for Perception and Communication in Children (COBRE Grant)Cobre Areahttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/cobreCenter for Perception and Communication in Children (COBRE Grant)
Child and Family Translational Researchadolescent boy looking at the camera smilinghttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/translational-researchChild and Family Translational Research
Hearing and Speech Perception ResearchAudiologist tools on a medical charthttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/hearing-speech-perceptionHearing and Speech Perception Research
Institute for Human NeuroscienceMRI and brain scanshttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/institute-human-neuroscienceInstitute for Human Neuroscience
Neurobehavioral Research3T MRI machinehttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/neurobehavioralNeurobehavioral Research
Sensory Neuroscience ResearchDNA Strand - Researchhttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/sensory-neuroscienceSensory Neuroscience Research
Speech and Language ResearchSpeech language research https://tsthospital.boystown.org/research/speech-languageSpeech and Language Research

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News

Read the latest news about life-changing research at Boys Town National Research Hospital.​

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Change Lives and Earn Moneyhttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/news/change-lives-earn-moneyChange Lives and Earn Money2022-06-14T05:00:00Z<p>​You can earn money, help advance science and change lives by participating in research studies this summer at Boys Town! Boys Town is looking for participants from all age groups to join our life-changing research studies. Participants can earn at least $15 per hour for their time. Studies are non-invasive and fun – and can help change the lives of children with hearing, communication, developmental, behavioral and mental health challenges.  We need participants with and without these challenges.</p><p><a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/participate">Browse our list of current openings</a> and sign up today! This is a great summer break activity for kids and adults alike! <strong>Don't see a study that fits you?</strong> Boys Town is always looking for research participants<a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/participate">; sign up</a> to be notified of future studies. </p>
Boys Town National Research Hospital has been Awarded a $12.5 Million COBRE Grant to Study Pediatric Brain Healthhttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/news/btnrh-awarded-cobre-grant-to-study-pediatric-brain-healthBoys Town National Research Hospital has been Awarded a $12.5 Million COBRE Grant to Study Pediatric Brain Health2022-03-04T06:00:00Z<p>Boys Town National Research Hospital will create a new Center for Pediatric Brain Health using funding from a $12.5 million COBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant that was recently awarded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This grant is renewable at a similar funding level for up to 15 years. </p><p>The Center for Pediatric Brain Health will be an important new part of the recently created Institute for Human Neuroscience. Initially, the Center will support four early-career researchers who will focus on different issues affecting pediatric brain health, including radon exposure, pubertal hormone levels, the impact of hearing loss on language processing, emotional dysregulation, and how the emergence of psychiatric traits is related to brain network reconfiguration. </p><p>“This Center grant will lead to major breakthroughs in pediatric neuroscience and position Omaha, and particularly Boys Town, as an international hub for pediatric brain research and clinical care," said Tony Wilson, Ph.D., Patrick E. Brookhouser Endowed Chair for Cognitive Neuroscience, Director of the Institute for Human Neuroscience, and principal investigator at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health. “These centers are not very common, and centers focused on pediatrics are even more rare." </p><p>Boys Town Hospital is focused on taking the research conducted at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health and using it to develop the best treatment options to advance patient care in pediatric neurology and other specialties. </p><p>“Boys Town has a history of unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children and families," said Jason Bruce, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health Care and Director of Boys Town National Research Hospital. “The new Center for Pediatric Brain Health will allow us to explore deeper into neurological and mental health conditions and develop even better treatments and therapies for all children who need this care."  </p><p>COBRE grants are meant to fund a succession of new researchers in a specific scientific area. As the four current investigators complete their studies, additional newly recruited researchers will move on to the grant. With the possibility of funding 12-15 scientists over 15 years. A COBRE grant is an exceptional way of supporting the next generation of researchers and building regional capacity for excellence in a specific target area, such as pediatric brain health. </p><p>Another important component of a COBRE grant is the mentorship structure it provides. Each researcher will have a Boys Town mentor that will work with them on their research protocols and establishing a line of research.  In addition, each researcher will have an external mentor that is an expert in their field of study; these can be national or worldwide experts. The Center for Pediatric Brain Health will also have its own executive advisory committee filled with leading international researchers in the field. </p><p>Boys Town's Center for Hearing Research received a COBRE grant eight years ago to fund the Center for Perception and Communication in Children. With Lori Leibold, Ph.D., as the principal investigator, the Center received renewed funding at its five-year review. Boys Town National Research Hospital is also a research partner in Creighton University's first COBRE grant to fund its Translational Hearing Center.</p><p> <img alt="Meet the first four neuroscience researchers at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health." src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/P20-Researcher-banner.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /> <em>Meet the first four neuroscience researchers at the Center for Pediatric Brain Health. L to R: Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Ph.D., Brittany Taylor, Ph.D., Tony Wilson, Ph.D., Director of the Center, Stuart White, Ph.D., and Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D.</em><br></p>
Supporting the Next Generation of Neuroscientists at Boys Town’s New Pediatric Center for Brain Health https://tsthospital.boystown.org/news/supporting-next-generation-neuroscientistsSupporting the Next Generation of Neuroscientists at Boys Town’s New Pediatric Center for Brain Health 2022-03-04T06:00:00Z<p>Boys Town National Research Hospital received a $12.5 million COBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant from the National Institute to develop the next generation of neuroscientists…but the outcome this will have on pediatric neurological, mental, and behavioral health is priceless.</p><h2>Meet Our Researchers</h2><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Gaelle Doucet" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/Doucet-Gaelle.jpg" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/brain-architecture-imaging-cognition" target="_blank">Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition Laboratory</a><br>Dr. Doucet’s research aims to identify the role of all major brain networks in everyday life throughout the lifespan and how their functions change with aging. Her lab is studying how the brain adapts from adolescence to late adulthood, as well as why some individuals will develop mental disorders and whether we can predict or prevent the start of disorders.<br clear="all"></p><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/Heinrichs-GrahamElizabeth_.jpg" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/casi" target="_blank">Cognitive and Sensory Imaging Laboratory</a><br>When performing cognitive and language tests, some children with hearing loss perform at or above the level of their normal-hearing peers, while others fall behind. Dr. Heinrichs-Graham’s lab uses brain imaging coupled with behavioral and audiometric testing to investigate the impact of mild-to-severe hearing loss, as well as the quantity and quality of therapeutic intervention, on brain, language, and cognitive function through development, with the ultimate goal of learning how we can optimize performance for all children who have hearing loss.<br clear="all"></p><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Brittany Taylor" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/TaylorBrittany.jpg" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Brittany Taylor, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/neurodiversity" target="_blank">Neurodiversity Laboratory</a><br>About half of homes in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa test high for radon, a naturally occurring gas that builds up in homes and other buildings and is linked to the development of certain cancers in adulthood. Despite the known long-term consequences of radon exposure, the impacts on developing children are poorly defined. Dr. Taylor uses structural and functional neuroimaging, cognitive testing, and measures of health and inflammation to explore how home radon exposure impacts brain development in kids.<br clear="all"></p><p> <img class="ms-rtePosition-1 custom-is-rounded" alt="Stuart White" src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/WhiteStuart.jpg" style="width:140px;height:140px;margin-right:10px;margin-left:0px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Stuart White, Ph.D.</strong><br><a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/developmental-clinical-neuroscience" target="_blank">Developmental Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory</a><br>Dr. White’s lab works with healthy teens and youth who have serious emotional and behavioral problems (aggression, emotion regulation problems, impulsivity and other mental health/ behavioral problems) and/or exposure to traumatic events. He uses brain imaging and measures of endocrine function (hormones) to understand how changes due to puberty impact the neural systems involved in both trauma and serious behavioral problems.<br clear="all"></p>
Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., onto American Auditory Society Board of Directorshttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/news/ryan-mccreery-onto-american-auditory-society-board-of-directorsRyan McCreery, Ph.D., onto American Auditory Society Board of Directors2022-02-07T06:00:00Z<p>​Boys Town National Research Hospital would like to congratulate Ryan McCreery, Ph.D., Boys Town Vice President of Research and the Director of the Audibility, Perception and Cognition Laboratory. Dr. McCreery has been selected as a member of the Board of Directors at the American Auditory Society (AAS) by a vote of his peers.</p><div class="is-clearfix"><div class="inline-image is-size-7">​​​​​​​​<img class="inline-image__image" alt="Ryan McCreery, Ph.D." src="https://assets.boystown.org/hosp_peds_images/McCreeryRyan.jpg" /> <h2 class="is-size-5">Ryan McCreery, Ph.D.</h2> </div>​ <p>“The American Auditory Society is unique because it is a multidisciplinary organization that brings together clinicians and scientists to advance research to help people with hearing and balance problems," noted Dr. McCreery. “Because the AAS is inclusive of clinicians and scientists, their mission and goals align closely with those of the Boy Town research program where our research aims to support the children and families served by our clinical and educational programs."</p><p>Dr. McCreery's current line of research focuses on various aspects of hearing, hearing amplification, language processing and language development. His research has contributed to our understanding of the importance of cumulative auditory experience on language and sensory development. Dr. McCreery's research directly relates to clinical outcomes and has led to optimized clinical protocols for fitting hearing aids for kids who have hearing loss.</p><p>In 2020, Dr. McCreery was selected as a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is the primary professional, credentialing and scientific organization for speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech/language/hearing scientists. Fellowship is the most prestigious recognition awarded for professional contribution and achievement.</p><p>Dr. McCreery has authored 74 peer-reviewed publications and has numerous research collaborations. He is a regular speaker at scientific and clinical meetings, having given over 160 talks on clinical and scientific information.  </p><p>“Being elected by my peers to serve on the Board of the American Auditory Society is a huge honor," Dr. McCreery said enthusiastically. “I will have the opportunity to help the AAS advance initiatives related to clinical-translational research, mentor students and early-career scientists, and improve the representation of people from historically underrepresented backgrounds in our field. I am looking forward to working with the otolaryngologists, hearing scientists, engineers and audiologists who make up the AAS Board over the next three years."</p></div>
Types of Child Maltreatment have Different Impacts on how Children Learn Social Behaviorhttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/news/child-maltreatment-impacts-social-behaviorTypes of Child Maltreatment have Different Impacts on how Children Learn Social Behavior2022-01-19T06:00:00Z<p>​Rewarding good behavior, punishing bad behavior, and redirecting a child to help show him or her how to act or behave across situations are tried and true reinforcement strategies that parents use every day. What Boys Town has known for years is that while these strategies work for most children, not everyone benefits as much as others – especially children who have suffered from abuse or neglect. </p><p>A new study from the <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/neurobehavioral">Boys Town Center for Neurobehavioral Research in Children</a>, looked specifically at reward and punishment processing, known as reinforcement processing, in children with a history of abuse or neglect. What they found was neglect, not abuse, was associated with reduced brain responses to the receipt of reward. Findings from this study demonstrate the neurodevelopmental impact of childhood maltreatment, particularly neglect, has on a child's ability to learn from reinforcement as well as the impact it has on developing serious behavioral problems.  </p><p>“It is important to understand how maltreatment affects different types of core processes necessary for socialization. That can help inform and bolster how we intervene," stated <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/karina-blair">Karina Blair, Ph.D.</a>, research scientist at Boys Town.   </p><p>Many children who come to <a href="https://www.boystown.org/about/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">Boys Town</a> have a history or abuse or neglect. The incidence of exposure to early life stressors in childhood is extremely high with 1 in 8 children in the United States experiencing some form of maltreatment by 18 years of age. Child neglect is identified as the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision that a child needs to remain healthy and safe from harm. </p><p>Previous studies have typically grouped together these two early life stressors. This new research from Boys Town separated the two to better understand the developmental impact of each specific childhood stressor so that better and more effective interventions can be created to help every child. </p><p>This research provides a baseline to why traditional reinforcement learning may not be as effective for children who have experienced neglect. Boys Town can then move forward in developing and studying new intervention methods, as well as enhancing current methods, to continue to help more children who struggle with the lasting impacts of neglect. These findings are important not only to the youth care work at Boys Town, but for all who work with children who have experienced neglect.  </p><p>“To quote Father Flanagan, he said, 'There is no such thing as a bad boy, only bad environment, bad modeling and bad teaching.' Boys Town continues to work every day to uncover ways to help every child reach a positive and successful future, no matter what the child experienced in his or her past," said Dr. Blair. </p><p>Read the entire study here: <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2021.101051" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2021.101051</a></p><h2> Study Model​<br></h2><p>The study was conducted at Boys Town. Participants included 142 adolescents ages 14-18 with varying levels of past abuse or neglect. The participants received an fMRI scan while performing a learning task that would engage the area of the brain that responds when stimulated to engage in a reward or avoid a punishment. Researchers found the level of neglect was negatively associated with responses to reward and punishment. They also found that the level of neglect was associated with the level of behavioral problems, meaning higher levels of neglect corelated with higher incidence for conduct and aggression difficulties. ​</p> <br>
New Center for Human Performance Optimization Is Awarded a Grant in Its First Month of Operationhttps://tsthospital.boystown.org/news/grant-awarded-to-center-for-human-performance-optimizationNew Center for Human Performance Optimization Is Awarded a Grant in Its First Month of Operation2021-12-21T06:00:00Z<p>​The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research announced the presentation of their 2021 Foundation for Physical Therapy Research Award to <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/faculty/brad-corr"> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Brad Corr,</span><span style="text-decoration:underline;"> PT, DPT, </span> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Associate Director of Physical Rehabilitation</span></a> at the <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/human-performance-optimization"> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Center for Human Performance Optimization</span></a>, for his clinical trial “Powering Through Transition: Therapeutic Power Training for Adolescents and Adults with Cerebral Palsy."</p><p>Having just opened in November of 2021, the Center for Human Performance Optimization will benefit from this $40,000 grant.</p><p>“Launching the center with a grant establishes our momentum and enhances our opportunity to grow," Corr said. “This gets us right out of the gate with a grant. It allows us to collect data, and then we use that momentum to roll it into larger grants and additional projects."</p><h2>This Project and Beyond</h2><p style="text-align:justify;">The transition from childhood to adulthood for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) is met with unique challenges. Power training, which requires moving quickly against resistance, is emerging as an intervention for pediatric physical therapists. This research intends to explore Therapeutic Power Training (TPT), which uses wearable technology often employed by elite athletes for visual feedback combined with functional movements to optimize mobility for adolescents and young adults with CP.</p><p>Corr felt that this grant was not only a vote of confidence in his research but also a tribute to the state-of-the-art facilities and world-class technology of both Boys Town's Institute for Human Neuroscience and Center for Human Performance Optimization.</p><p>“When you submit a project, you get feedback on the grant and there's always pros and cons," said Corr.  “In this instance, the environment and the collaborators were cited as primary reasons this grant got funded. The resources at the center, as well as the research resources here at Boys Town, were noted by the reviewers as strengths of the project."</p><p>Brad Corr is a physical therapist by training with over 14 years of experience working with individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan. He pairs his clinical care expertise with equal experience in developing research and therapeutic interventions to support children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities. <a href="https://www.boystownhospital.org/research/institute-human-neuroscience/human-performance-optimization"> <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Learn more about the Center for Human Performance Optimization</span></a>.</p>

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