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Doing more to help children’s health: Center for Pediatric Psychology enhances OSU’s ability to make a difference

The new Center for Pediatric Psychology at Oklahoma State University is a logical extension of the status of OSU and the state of Oklahoma as national leaders in the field of children’s health. Its mission is “to engage in cutting-edge scientific discovery related to all aspects of children’s health, as well as their families, and to foster integrated research, training and clinical service delivery.”

Larry Mullins, the Vaughn Vennerberg II Chair of Psychology, is the inaugural director. He said the CPPOSU will be an excellent tool for recruiting outstanding faculty and graduate students.

Larry Mullins
Dr. Larry Mullins

“We have a long history of bringing in some of the best graduate students in the country to train in pediatric psychology,” Mullins said. “Establishing the Center for Pediatric Psychology formalizes what we’ve been doing and allows us to move forward in a much more thoughtful manner. It will help us better fund our graduate students and our research, and really support the growth of a network across the state.”

Two years’ worth of funding from the College of Arts and Sciences has created a speaker series as well as a graduate-student position to help coordinate activities at the CPPOSU. The long-term goal is to add more funding and training resources for graduate students and research facilities such as a dedicated suite that will serve as the program’s physical home.

Joining Mullins as charter faculty are John M. Chaney and Ashley (Hum) Clawson. That trio make OSU one of only three American universities with three full-time pediatric psychologists 

“Most universities only have one faculty member in this area,” Mullins said. “That’s one reason we are easily in the top five pediatric psychology training programs in the country. Plus, Oklahoma is the birthplace of the field of pediatric psychology. Logan Wright coined that term at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in the late 1960s.

“OU is still a leading training facility for interns and postdocs, and we have this incredible working relationship with them that goes back decades. Our graduate students can do their clinical training in OU’s specialty clinics. So, to me it just makes sense to continue that legacy and build something that has some permanency to it.”

The Center’s five affiliate faculty are all from OSU and OUHSC. At OSU, Thad Leffingwell, head of the Department of Psychology, is joined by assistant psychology professors Misty Hawkins and Amanda Baraldi. The pair from OUHSC are Stephen Gillaspy, associate pediatrics professor, and Ted Wagener, assistant pediatrics professor and associate director of training at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center of the Stephenson Cancer Center.

There is also an advisory board of six Ph.D.s from across the country.

  • Eugene Walker, OUHSC professor emeritus
  • Bernard Fuemmeler, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center
  • Kevin Hommel, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • Ahna L. H. Pai, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • David Elkin, University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • David Janicke, University of Florida

In addition, it has the following institutional and community partnerships.

  • Pediatric psychology faculty and pediatricians at OUHSC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities in Norman, Oklahoma
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
  • University of California, San Francisco Medical Center
  • Washington University Medical Center
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Cook Children’s Medical Center of Fort Worth

“The Center for Pediatric Psychology will be a hub for coordinated research and training activities and a way to accomplish even more through all of our collaborations around the nation,” Mullins said. “There are over 20 million children in the U.S. living with chronic health conditions. Through pediatric psychology, we seek to understand those factors that place youth with an illness and their families at risk for further negative health outcomes. We are proud to play a part in advancing that cause, which will help more of these children and families.”

To learn more about the OSU Department of Psychology, visit psychology.okstate.edu.