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Mary Pat Moeller to Receive Highest Career Honor

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Contact: Brooke Wittrock
Manager, Marketing Communications
(402) 498-6640
Brooke.Wittrock@boystown.org

PRESS RELEASE
October 24, 2013

Mary Pat Moeller to Receive Highest Career Honor

Mary Pat Moeller, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Childhood Deafness at Boys Town National Research Hospital will be presented with the Honors of the Association award, which is the highest career achievement award given by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA), on November 15, 2013 at the ASHA National Convention in Chicago, IL.

"I am humbled, honored, and a bit overwhelmed to be receiving this prestigious award," said Dr. Moeller. "It is special to be recognized by my peers for doing work that I love. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the field, and I am grateful to my family and colleagues who have supported me throughout these endeavors."

Dr. Moeller has been selected to receive the Honors of the Association for her distinguished career accomplishments and contributions in early intervention and translational research involving children who are deaf and hard of hearing and their families.

"Dr. Moeller's research has had a profound impact on early intervention strategies for children who are deaf or hard of hearing," said John Arch, Executive Vice President of Boys Town Health Care and Director of Boys Town National Research Hospital. "Her concept that interventions should be family-centered along with her ability to illustrate the power of parent/child interactions has had an international influence on early intervention strategies and outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families."

In 1981, before federal legislation mandated early intervention, Dr. Moeller was already making enormous strides on the local level. In collaboration with colleagues in the Omaha Public Schools, she designed an innovative intervention program called Diagnostic Early Intervention Project. Every newly-identified child who was deaf or hard of hearing was placed in the program for an intensive period of diagnostic intervention to determine the best placement and options for the child and family. This was an early effort to use best evidence to guide the course of intervention.

1990 was the start of a 10 year information dissemination effort to foster collaboration among researchers, clinicians, educators and parents in childhood deafness and child language. Through a National Institutes of Health Research and Training grant, Dr. Moeller developed a series of scholarly meetings called "Issues in Language and Deafness," in addition to Pediatric Audiology conferences and several sets of research conference proceedings.

"These programs provided a platform for discussion on early identification of hearing loss," said Walt Jesteadt, Director of Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital.

The 10 year conferences were distinguished, inventive, and noted as having "the greatest impact on the field," stated nominator John Bernthal, Ph.D., Director/Chair and Professor of Special Education and Communications Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nationally, Dr. Moeller has collaborated or consulted with several organizations: The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (Utah State University), Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Coalition Promoting Family-centered Early Development of Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. Focusing on family-centered early intervention, Dr. Moeller in collaboration with Brenda Schick, Ph.D., Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, developed a series of Read with Me and Sign with Me DVDs and curriculum materials to guide parents in stimulating early language skills in their children.

Babyhearing.org was created in 2000, from a NIDCD grant awarded to Dr. Moeller, to address the need to educate families on newborn hearing screening and follow up. To this day it continues to be the only comprehensive web site for parents of newly diagnosed children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The site, available in both English and Spanish, is accessed world-wide and offers answers to practical questions parents may have about hearing loss, the latest advances in hearing aid technology, resources available in their community, parenting tips, and insights from other parents of deaf or hard of hearing children.

As a result of newborn hearing screening, children with mild to severe hearing losses (hard of hearing) are identified in infancy, which is much earlier in the past. This presents an opportunity to prevent communication delays, but there is very little research evidence documenting whether early intervention is making a difference for these children and their families. For the past five years, Dr. Moeller has collaborated with the University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill on an $8.9 million NIH multi-center grant to study the effects of educational programs and audiological services on the outcomes of children who are hard of hearing.

Dr. Moeller's work has reached global influence. She has spoken at conferences in Dubai, Italy, China, New Zealand, South Africa, England, and Holland among others. In Austria, she led an international consensus conference that resulted in the publication of best practice guidelines in early intervention for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

During the ASHA award ceremony, colleagues and members will watch a video celebrating Dr. Moeller's career as she walks across the stage to receive the Honors of the Association award. Sophie Ambrose, PhD, Senior Research Associate at Boys Town National Research Hospital describes the award similar to "receiving an Oscar in our field."

Congratulations Dr. Moeller on this significant national honor and your remarkable work to help children and families.