Kaitlin Lansford Receives NIH Grant

Kaitlin Lansford headshot, Communication Science Disorders

Dr. Kaitlin Lansford (pictured left), an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director within the School of Communication Science and Disorders, was awarded a grant in the amount of $233,828 by the National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last month. Dr. Lansford was presented with this 2-year exploratory and developmental research award, otherwise known as an R21 grant, for her project titled “Perceptual Training For Improved Intelligibility of Dysarthric Speech” in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Borrie from Utah State University.

NIH is known to be the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world and invests over $32 billion a year in their grants. The R21 grant that was awarded to Dr. Lansford and Dr. Borrie serves to stimulate exploratory research by providing support in the early stages of project development.

“We believe this work has the potential to improve communication between individuals with dysarthria and their loved ones,” says Dr. Lansford. 

A portion of the project narrative can be found below:

“There exist very few effective treatments that ease the intelligibility burden of dysarthria. Perceptual training offers a promising avenue for improving intelligibility of dysarthric speech by offsetting the communicative burden from the speaker with dysarthria on to their primary communication partners—family, friends, and caregivers. This proposal, utilizing advanced explanatory models, will permit identification of speaker and listener parameters, and their interactions, that allow perceptual training paradigms to be optimized for intelligibility outcomes in dysarthria rehabilitation. This work addresses this critical gap in clinical practice, which disproportionately affects clinical populations with cognitive, developmental, and/or significant neuromuscular impairment, and sets the stage for extension of dysarthria management to listener-targeted remediation—advancing clinical practice and enhanced communication and quality of life outcomes for these populations.”

Dr. Lansford further breaks down this narrative by saying, “Specifically, our work will examine the factors intrinsic to the speaker (e.g., severity and regularity of the speech degradations) and listener (e.g., age, hearing status, rhythm perception, and other cognitive factors) that optimize intelligibility gain associated with perceptual training.” She continues, “Our earlier work has made some gains on this front, but this grant will allow for us to examine all of these factors in a large scale investigation of 400 listeners and 20 different speakers with dysarthria.”

“We are thrilled that the National Institutes of Health sees value in this work and cannot wait to get started,” Dr. Lansford says. The budget period for the grant ranges from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.