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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter Announces a Million Dollar Federal Award for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf

July 14, 2017
Press Release
Will be used to develop a scientists-in-training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduates

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) announced today that the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) has received a million dollar federal award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This five-year federal award will be used to develop a scientists-in-training program for deaf and hard-of-hearing undergraduates. Slaughter has long supported NTID, which helps anchor the regional economy with 2,000 students and faculty.

“I couldn’t be more proud to announce this historic investment in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. This institution is the world’s first technological college for deaf students and has done outstanding work helping our students prepare for successful careers. This major federal award will create a curriculum that will lead to students in our region finding those next great scientific breakthroughs,” said Congresswoman Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress.

“This is an historic development for deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars and for RIT,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “RIT is becoming known as the destination school for deaf and hard-of-hearing scholars who want to prepare for careers in biomedical and behavioral research. That is in no small part because of Congresswoman Slaughter’s efforts championing this institution and our community.” 

“Congresswoman Slaughter’s unrivaled support for research and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf have helped make this investment possible. The strength of the mentor pool helped to distinguish the RIT application, and we are very grateful for faculty enthusiasm for this program,” said Scott R. Smith, a medical doctor, health scientist and research faculty member at RIT/NTID, who is deaf and will help lead this program. “We expect the RIT-RISE program to provide even greater opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing that will enable them to become successful scientists.” 

The funding, provided through the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program, is designed to increase the number of underrepresented students who enter Ph.D. programs in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The RIT-RISE program is designed to help expand the Rochester training pipeline for deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists. This is the first RISE program to specifically serve deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 

Selected RISE scholars will receive intensive training and support for working in research laboratories with RIT researchers and, eventually, in the laboratory of a mentor from another institution. The RIT-RISE leadership team will help match supported scholars with participating research mentors in their fields of interest. Scholars also will attend local and national conferences, present papers, and publish or co-publish their work.

Congresswoman Slaughter has a long history of supporting Rochester’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community—the nation’s largest on a per-capita basis. In 2010, the Rochester Institute of Technology honored Rep. Slaughter with their most prestigious Presidential Medallion for her work on behalf of Rochester-area students, especially those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Also in 2010, Rep. Slaughter announced an innovative partnership between NTID, the University of Rochester Medical Center, the Rochester General Health System, and Gallaudet University to increase the participation of the deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans in the healthcare industry. Last year, Slaughter announced a $820,504 grant to the Rochester Institute of Technology to create a new curriculum for mobile app development that is being developed and initially offered at the NTID.