GRDDC Leadership Team
Prof. Nihad Almasri PT, PhD
Prof. Almasri is Professor of Pediatric Physical Therapy at the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Jordan, Jordan. She is consultant to the World Physiotherapy in addition to other NGOs. She is an expert and academician, has made an enduring impact on the field of rehabilitation sciences. As a faculty member at the University of Jordan, she has held pivotal roles such as Dean and Head of the physiotherapy department. Her dedication to advancing healthcare education is evident in her development of comprehensive physiotherapy curricula and the delivery of a wide array of courses that have shaped the future of the profession. Simultaneously, Professor Almasri has actively maintained a clinical presence across diverse healthcare settings, serving children with disabilities in Qatar, Jordan, and the USA. Her research portfolio, comprising more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and numerous grants, is dedicated to enhancing services for children with disabilities. Beyond her academic and clinical roles, she has extended her influence as an education consultant, significantly contributing to the development of physiotherapy programs in Jordan and Tajikistan. Her contributions to the field also include serving on the World Health Organization's committee, where she played a pivotal role in establishing an international framework for rehabilitation. Presently she continues her unwavering commitment to elevating healthcare services in the Middle East and around the world, driven by her pursuit of excellence in education and research.
Prof. Nem-Yun Boo MBBS, FRCPCH
Prof. Boo is a Malaysian neonatologist and Senior Professor of Pediatrics at the University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) of Malaysia since 2010. She was a lecturer and later as professor at the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM,) between 1982 and 2005, and a professor of Pediatrics at the International Medical University between 2005 and 2010 before joining UTAR. She has worked in the field of neonatology in Malaysia over the last 40 years and is the first Professor of Neonatology in Malaysia. She designed and established the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) which is the first developmental-care friendly Malaysian NICU for sick new-born infants. She still works as a part-time consultant in this NICU, conducting weekly ward rounds with the junior doctors to teach them on providing timely optimal care to sick newborns. She believes the best indicators of optimal neonatal care should be “survival with good brain, vision, hearing, lung functions and guts”. Over the years, she was the lead investigators of numerous studies to identify readily modifiable factors to improve newborn care and to prevent neurodevelopmental disabilities in Malaysia. She has authored and co-authored 167 publications in peer-reviewed medical journals. For her teaching, research, and service contribution to UKM, she was conferred the honorific title of Emeritus Professor in 2012. She received Tuna Razak Research Award in 1992 from the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, and the Outstanding Women Scientist Lifetime Scientific Research Achievement Award 2023 from the Malaysian Invention and Design Society. She is listed among the world top 2% most-cited scientists and top 2% career scientists for years 2019-2021 (Elsevier Data Repository).
Dr. Cecilia Breinbauer MD, MPH
Dr. Breinbauer is a Chilean trained medical doctor, as well as child and adolescent psychiatrist, with an additional master’s degree in public health (maternal and child health) from George Washington University. She is the deputy director of the Centre for Healthy Development (CHD), a US based non-profit from where she supports education and research on inclusive child development and mental health. She also directs “Comunidades Inclusivas” an online training platform offering courses and mentoring programs on topics of mental health and autism, and other neurodevelopmental disabilities for Spanish speaking providers, educators, and parents from Latin America, aiming to create and strengthen local capacity in their communities. She continues mentoring doctoral candidates from different countries, pursuing a Ph.D. in Infant Mental Health and Development, curriculum she developed together with Dr. Stanley Greenspan. Dr. Breinbauer has published a few books, book chapters, and co-authored several peer-reviewed articles, promoting healthy child and adolescent development, supporting the rights of children with developmental disabilities, and collaborating with autistic and neurodivergent researchers. She has more than 30 years of experience, doing passionate professional work around improving the well-being and quality of life of children with developmental disabilities.
Prof. Adrian C. Davis OBE PhD FFPHM FSS FRSM
Prof. Davis is a public health scientist who has been responsible for implementing newborn screening - including hearing and vision - in England. He has worked extensively with the global burden of disease team in Seattle and WHO. He has been working on standards for Pediatric hearing care and sensory care for people with autism and / or learning disability in England most recently. He is a founding member of GRDDC. He trained initially in theology, psychology and statistics at universities in the UK. He holds visiting professorships at the Vision and Eye Research Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, Imperial College London and London School of Economics. He is the former Head of Population Health Sciences for Public Health England. He received an OBE for healthcare in 2007. He is listed among the world top 2% most-cited scientists (Elsevier Data Repository).
Prof. Mijna Hadders‐Algra MD, PhD
Prof. Hadders-Algra is emeritus professor of Developmental Neurology in Groningen, the Netherlands. She worked for more than 40 years at the University Medical Center Groningen in Developmental Neurology, on the crossroads of pediatrics, child neurology, pediatric rehabilitation, pediatric physical therapy, obstetrics and child psychiatry. In her work she combined clinical work with research, teaching, writing of books and board work (e.g. European Academy of Childhood Disability). Her aim was and is to facilitate activities and participation of children with developmental disabilities and their families. Her work focusses on early detection and early intervention of neurodevelopmental disorders. It has resulted in co-authorship of more than 300 publications in peer reviewed international journals, more than 60 papers in national journals, 8 books (some translated in multiple languages), novel methods on early detection of developmental disorders (Standardized Infant Neurodevelopmental Assessment (SINDA) and Infant Motor Profile (IMP)) and the development of a family-centered early intervention program (COPCA, COPing with and CAring for infants with special needs). Being aware of the need of political and financial support of the work in early childhood development, in particular for children at high risk of or with developmental disability. Mijna has wheelchair-mobility due to a spinal cord lesion. She is listed among the world top 2% most-cited scientists (Elsevier Data Repository).
Prof. M.K.C. Nair MD, MMedSc, PhD, DSc.
Prof. Nair is a true leader in both his vision and actions. Very early in his career Prof. Nair had recognized the social, economic and cultural value of child development in the nation’s life. He relentlessly worked towards developing new screening tools and innovative training methods for over three decades and is now globally acknowledged as a pioneer in the field. Trivandrum Developmental Screening Chart (TDSC) is one such example which forms the backbone of the national child health program Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karykram (RBSK). Prof. Nair, who had a long research career with 173 National/International Journal Publications and 22 Medical Books as Author/Editor, took several decisions in his professional career where outcome was uncertain. Child Development Centre (CDC) was his dream, which is now considered a national asset for research, teaching and training in child and adolescent development, with 25 years follow up of Low-Birth-Weight babies, leading on to the award of the first “Doctor of Science (DSc.)” degree awarded to any medical person in 80 years history of University of Kerala. His 41 years of counseling experience helped him immensely in establishing “Student Guidance & Support" program in all colleges during his latest stint as Vice Chancellor of Kerala University of Health Sciences. Prof. Nair has established national benchmarks in the process. Prof. Nair has been elected “Fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (FAMS) in the year 2020”. Currently he is working as Director, NIMS-Spectrum Child Development Research Centre (CDRC), NIMS Medicity Campus, Thiruvananthapuram. Prof. Nair, has also been nominated as a Governing Body Member of the (i) Board of Management (BOM) of Noorul Islam Centre for Higher Education (NICHE); (ii) Child Development Centre (CDC), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala; (iii) National Institute for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (NIPMR), Thrissur, Kerala; (iv) National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala; and (v) Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), South Campus, Bangalore. He is also as Chairman Scientific Advisory Committee (Academic), The Dale View College of Pharmacy & Research Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Prof. Nair is a national authority in Developmental Pediatrics & Adolescent Pediatrics and Annual Conference of both academic bodies have oration in his name. He was the National President of Indian Academy of Pediatrics in 2004 and he has trained over 500 Developmental Pediatricians and over 200 Developmental Therapists.
Prof. Charles R.J. Newton MBChB, FRCP, MD, FRCPCH
Prof. Newton is Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology. He qualified from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with postgraduate training in Pediatrics in Manchester and London, United Kingdom. As a lecturer at University of Oxford, he went to Kilifi Kenya in 1989, to help set up a unit to study severe malaria in African children. Thereafter he spent 2 years as a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins, USA; studying mechanisms of brain damage in central nervous system infections. He completed his training in Pediatric Neurology at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK. In 1998 he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellowship at University College London, to return to Kilifi, to study CNS infections in children. He conducts research on CNS infections in children; epidemiological studies of epilepsy and neurological impairment; tetanus, jaundice and sepsis in neonates. He is particularly interested in behavioral comorbidity of neurological conditions in children. In 2011 he took up a professorship in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford to conduct studies of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Epilepsy in Africa and Autism in the United Kingdom and Lithuania. He is listed among the world top 2% most-cited scientists (Elsevier Data Repository).
Dr. Bolajoko O. Olusanya MBBS, FMCPaed, FRCPCH, PhD
Dr. Olusanya is a Nigerian/UK trained developmental pediatrician with PhD in Child Health/Audio-Vestibular Medicine from the University College London. She is the Executive Director, Centre for Healthy Start Initiative (an Organization in Special Consultative Status with UN-ECOSOC), Lagos, Nigeria and the Medical Director of First Years Medical Centre and Phonics Hearing Centre in Nigeria. She has authored over 250 peer-reviewed articles spanning pediatrics, otolaryngology, audiology, general/rehabilitative medicine, maternal and child health, and international health policy. Her scientific work is inspired by her personal experience of inclusive education with congenital hearing loss, and uniquely focused on community-oriented management of developmental disabilities including early detection and intervention programs, as well as prevention of avoidable causes. She is a reviewer for over 100 Medline-indexed scientific journals and serves on the editorial board of BMJ Pediatrics Open, International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, International Journal of Audiology, PLOS One, Frontiers in Public Health, and the Christian Journal for Global Health. She pioneered the largest hospital-based and community-based universal newborn hearing screening programs in Nigeria/Africa from 2003 to 2008; and was a leading contributor to the current WHO classification system for hearing loss. She is lead investigator for the first randomized controlled trial on the use of filtered sunlight phototherapy for treating neonates with severe-to-hazardous hyperbilirubinemia. She is a Fellow/Member of several professional associations, including the Pediatric Association of Nigeria, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal Society of Medicine, International Society of Audiology, International Epidemiological Association and the American Psychological Association. She is an active collaborator with the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study and the coordinator/co-founder, Global Research on Developmental Disabilities Collaborators (GRDDC). She received the 2018 Aram Glorig Award by the International Society of Audiology, in recognition of her contribution to global hearing healthcare. She is Co-Chair of The Lancet Commission on Hearing Loss and passionate advocate for children with disabilities, accountability and decolonization in global health. She is listed among the world top 2% most-cited scientists (Elsevier Data Repository).
Prof Maureen E. Samms-Vaughan MBBS, DCH, DM (Paed), PhD
Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, and Professor of Child Health, Development and Behavior, Emeritus at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. In 1993, she established the Child and Family Clinic at the University Hospital for management of developmental disabilities in Jamaica. In 2003, she was appointed the first Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), a Government of Jamaica (GOJ) agency established to develop the early childhood sector. Under her 13 year leadership, the ECC developed and implemented Jamaica's first cross-sectoral National Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Development (ECD). She coordinated the early development of Jamaica's ECD Policy and development of Jamaica's National Parenting Policy; Child Health and Development Passport, a parent held record for identification of developmental disability; the Jamaica School Readiness Assessment; and development of the strategy for optimum development of children 0-2 years: the First 1,000 Days Approach and the Jamaica Brain Builder Strategy. She has over 130 publications and has completed policy and action child development research particularly in ECD, violence against children, and developmental disabilities. Action research has designed screening systems for children with disabilities for Caribbean governments. Her research has been recognized by the UWI on numerous occasions, including awards for Outstanding Researcher, Excellence in Public Service and Translation of Research into Public Policy. She has been a member of the IDB's Advisory Group on ECD and Co-Chair of Know Violence. She is a member of the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) Technical Advisory Group and is the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) Global Senior Leader for Jamaica. She has served on the GOJ’s National Advisory Council on Disability and National Council on Education and is Patron of the Jamaica Autism Support Association. She was a Commissioner of the GOJ’s Jamaica Education Transformation Commission, and currently chairs the National Commission on Violence Prevention (NCVP). She was recognized by the GOJ with the Commander of the Order of Distinction (2007) and the Order of Jamaica (2022), the 5th and 4th highest national honors for research, clinical work and policy development in child health, development and behavior.
Prof. Donald Wertlieb PhD
Professor emeritus, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, Tufts University, USA, is an applied developmental scientist specializing in Pediatric Psychology. He studies the complex processes by which children and families cope with adversity and disability and applies these understandings to program development in community and humanitarian settings. He collaborates with diverse partners in action research and participatory evaluation of inclusive early childhood development and inclusive nurturing care initiatives across the globe. In Ukraine, he helped establish an educational resource center serving families of children with disabilities and training teachers to address their needs and rights. Presiding over the Partnership for Early Childhood Development and Disability Rights (PECDDR), he coordinated the Early Childhood Development Task Force of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities (http://ecdtf.org), an international network of policy, program, and research advocates. Wertlieb serves as an advisory board member of the Global Research on Developmental Disabilities Collaborators (GRDDC) www.under5disabilities.org. He served on the National Academy of Medicine Forum on Child Well-being: Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health (https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/forum-for-childrens-well-being-promoting-cognitive-affective-and-behavioral-health-for-children-and-youth ). In his role on the planning committee for the National Summit on Child Mental Health he fostered collaboration between developmental scientists and communication scientists to improve the quality and impact of research findings on services, policies and programs for young children, their families and communities. Wertlieb served as President of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (Division 54, American Psychological Association) as well as the interdisciplinary American Orthopsychiatric Association, recently reorganized as the Global Alliance for Mental Health & Social Justice (http://www.bhjustice.org).
Prof. Scott M. Wright MD
Dr. Wright is the Anne Gaines & G. Thomas Miller Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. He is the Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. For Hopkins, he serves as the Director of the Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence and the Co-Director of the Initiative to Humanize Medicine. As a general internist, he has been providing longitudinal primary care to patients in Baltimore since 1995 and he serves as a teaching attending on the inpatient medical services. For his teaching accomplishments, he was elected to membership in Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 2009. Extensive experience in medical education, through his own research and the mentoring of others, has resulted in over 260 publications - including studies published in leading journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and New England Journal of Medicine. In recognition of his research accomplishments, he was elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He serves as Co-Editor of CLOSLER, an online community that stimulates healthcare professionals and trainees to reflect on giving exceptional care to every patient – moving them “closer to Osler” (Twitter: @CLOSLER, www.closler.org). Dr. Wright serves on the Advisory Board of the Weinberg Family CP Center at Columbia University in NYC. Personally, Scott has more than 55 years of lived experience with Cerebral Palsy. When not at work, he is usually hanging out with his best friend & former medical school classmate – his wife Annie. They enjoy spending time with their 3 children and their dog, Lucy. His favorite hobbies / pastimes include – skiing, paddle boarding, reading, cooking, travel, and watching soccer. He is listed among the world top 2% most-cited scientists (Elsevier Data Repository).