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John Colombo, Ph.D.

Director, Life Span Institute (Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies)
Primary office:
Dole Human Development Center, room 1052

John Colombo, professor of psychology, became the third director of the Life Span Institute September 2007. Colombo also serves as the director and principal investigator of the University of Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center.

Colombo has previously served the University of Kansas as faculty chair of the Human Subjects Committee on the Lawrence campus (1993-2012), as an associate dean of KU’s Graduate School (2001-2004) and as acting chair of the Department of Psychology (2005-2006). He joined the KU faculty in 1988 preceded by six years as a postdoctoral trainee and research associate. Colombo’s research interests are in the developmental cognitive neuroscience of attention and learning with a special focus on early individual differences in these areas and how they relate to the typical and atypical development of cognitive and intellectual function in infancy and early childhood.

Along with being an active participant in the Cognitive and Brain Science and Developmental Science doctoral programs within the Department of Psychology, he is affiliated with three interdisciplinary doctoral programs: Child Language, Clinical Child Psychology and Neuroscience.

His research on infant nutrition and cognitive development with Susan Carlson, University of Kansas Medical Center professor of dietetics and nutrition, contributed to the decision to add nutritional compounds present in mother’s milk to infant formula in the U.S. He is currently the co-director of a longitudinal clinical trial studying the effects of prenatal supplementation with DHA on cognitive development through childhood.

He currently holds, or is a key participant in, federal grants from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. His work has also been supported by the National Science Foundation, by foundation grants (e.g., March of Dimes) and by industry (Mead Johnson Nutrition and Martek).

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