Collaboration with Harvard's Division of Medical Sciences SHBT Doctoral Program

One of the many active educational and research collaborations of the MGH Institute is a relationship with Harvard’s Division of Medical Sciences, Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT) Doctoral program. 

SHBT is an innovative, interdisciplinary doctoral program that trains researchers in basic science, translational medicine, and engineering approaches to the field of human communication. The program grew from the idea that advances in human health will come about when the most rigorous of scientists are exposed to real-life clinical issues and questions.

Through an ongoing relationship between the two institutions, the MGH Institute serves as an avenue through which students interested in speech and language are exposed to clinical practice. For two years, a subset of students enrolled in SHBT join our Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) master’s degree students to become trained as speech-language pathologists. During this time, SHBT doctoral students learn to understand the demands, design, and constraints of clinical practice while gaining exposure to real-world clinical problems. A number also conduct research in our labs during their time here.

The rich academic and clinical environment of the MGH Institute enriches the scientific training of SHBT doctoral students through top tier classroom and clinic experiences in the field of communication sciences and disorders. In the long term, Harvard and the Institute are working jointly to educate scientific thinkers who can produce research that bridges the gap between laboratory research and clinical practice.

Two alumni from the SHBT program – Sofia Villila Rohter and Lauryn Zipse – have joined the MGH Institute faculty and are co-directors of the Cognitive Neuroscience Group. Three current students from the SHBT program are also involved in research in the MGH Institute labs. 

Educational and research collaborations between Harvard’s SHBT program and the Institute have given way to research that has led to advances in the field’s understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of developmental and acquired communication disorders.

Recent contributions include improving our understanding of the diagnosis and classification of motor speech disorders, introducing new perspectives to treatment and evaluation of language disorders that arise from stroke (aphasia), and using behaviors and neuroimaging to shed light on the ways in which early childhood environments influence cognitive and neural development important for learning and education. This work has taken place in the rich research environment provided by the Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab, the SAil Literacy Lab, Cognitive Neuroscience Group and area collaborators.