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April 25, 2001
Funds available from
on Reading and Learning

Stanford Report

PALO ALTO -- The newly formed Stanford Institute on Reading and Learning (SIRL) has announced it will offer several rounds of research funding for Stanford faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students over the next two years on methods for understanding and diagnosing reading disabilities in young children.

The institute, under the initial direction of neurology Professor and Chair Bill Mobley, has been formed thanks to a generous gift to Stanford from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation.

Mobley said SIRL will have a basic mechanisms component, including such areas as neurology, genetics, psychology, psychiatry, education and linguistics; a research and diagnostic clinic to identify individuals with learning disabilities, classify and quantify those disabilities and find appropriate treatments which could involve engineering fields for assistive technologies; and a think tank component to address public policy implications of reading disabilities, evaluate current methodologies to deal with them, analyze data and disseminate the findings of the other divisions of SIRL for maximum public use and benefit.

"We believe Stanford has the collective expertise to make tremendous progress in reducing the problems that flow from reading and learning disabilities," Mobley said. Each round of SIRL funding will focus on a particular aspect of reading disability, he said.

The first round of proposals under the basic mechanisms component is now being solicited for awards to be made in July of this year, as follows: Proposals are solicited for periods of one to three years that examine methods for diagnosing, understanding and treating reading disabilities in young children.

Proposals are encouraged that examine this topic at levels ranging across classroom measurements, behavioral testing, neuropsychological measurements or at the cellular and molecular level. The institute is particularly interested in studies that bridge these different levels of analysis. It is anticipated that some proposals will be submitted from multiple laboratories whose members wish to study this area jointly.

The institute will be able to provide resources for experimental design and data analysis. Proposals of no more than five pages (including project period, detailed budget and anticipated results) should be submitted by June 1 to Dr. William Mobley, Interim Director of SIRL and Chair of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, 1201 Welch Road, Stanford School of Medicine, MSLS Building, Room P211 (phone 723-6424).

They may be sent by fax to 498-6262. Requests are restricted to a maximum of $100,000 per year. Submission of proposals in the range of $50,000 per year is encouraged so as to capture the involvement of as many scholars as possible.

The use of these funds for faculty salary is discouraged, institute officials said. Proposals will be reviewed and ranked by the SIRL Steering Committee, which is chaired by Mobley and also includes Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education; Ellen Markman, professor of psychology; Roger Noll, professor of economics; Allan Reiss, professor of psychiatry; Neil Risch, professor of genetics; David Rubenson, RAND Corporation; and Brian Wandell, professor of psychology.

Final selections will be made by the SIRL Board, which consists of Stanford faculty and external experts. Awards will be announced around July 15, with funding made available immediately thereafter.

Funding for successful proposals will be guaranteed for one year. Additional years of funding will be subject to review of progress reports by the SIRL Board.

In addition, faculty funded by this mechanism will be expected to take part in SIRL activities. For more information, contact Patricia Devaney, SIRL deputy director, at 324-8213 or .


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