Western University announces innovative research centre for early childhood development and intervention

Western University has taken a significant step towards becoming a global leader in the field of early childhood development research and intervention.

 October 29, 2015

 October 29, 2015

Western University has taken a significant step towards becoming a global leader in the field of early childhood development research and intervention.

The University announced today it has partnered with the Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre and the family of the late Mary J. Wright to establish the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount.

This unique Centre will drive state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research that examines factors influencing and impacting early childhood development, with the goal of fostering the health and wellbeing of society’s most vulnerable children, and enhancing outcomes for all children.

Due to open in January, 2016, the Centre will be composed of an interdisciplinary team of basic and applied researchers from Western’s faculties of education, science, social science and health sciences, who will work collaboratively across three signature areas of research:

  1. Environmental effects on brain development – toxic stress
  2. Cognition, language, literacy and numeracy
  3. Social, emotional and behavioural resiliency and wellbeing

Researchers will work to provide better outcomes for children by integrating an enhanced understanding of child development gained through basic research into evidence-based early childhood education and intervention programs and initiatives.

Western’s Faculty of Education played a lead role in the Centre’s development.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have assembled such an amazing team of talented and innovative individuals,” said Vicki Schwean, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “By generating new knowledge from research in areas such as cognition and brain development, and using that knowledge to develop interventions and programs designed to help children, we will be able to make a tremendous difference in the lives of not only children, but their families and communities as well.”

The Centre will also work to train the next generation of developmental researchers and professionals through graduate student practicums and internships, and build capacity within the local community by sharing their knowledge with professionals who deliver children’s services.

The Centre has been purposefully located at Merrymount due to that organization’s long-standing ties and history of working with the community.

“Hosting this type of innovative work directly in the community is key to its success,” said Ailene Wittstein, Executive Director of Merrymount. “We will be able to not only implement the results of this ground-breaking work almost immediately, but to gauge its success and work jointly with the researchers to identify and develop new areas of research for the future.”

Mary J. Wright was a pioneer and visionary in the field of child psychology. Through this unique Centre, Western is proud to be carrying on her vision of nurturing children and helping them to thrive and flourish.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Ledgley, Senior Media Relations Officer, Western University, 5198-661-2111 x852873,


Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.

Downloadable Files

Signature Areas of Research (.pdf)
Core Participating Researchers (.pdf)


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