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University of Washington School of Nursing renames center after renowned nurse and researcher Kathryn Barnard


Date: June 22, 2012
Media Contact: Ashley Wiggin,, 206-221-2456

The University of Washington School of Nursing has announced the re-naming of its Center on Infant Mental Health & Development to the Barnard Center, in honor of renowned nurse and researcher Kathryn Barnard.  A longtime School of Nursing faculty member, Barnard is known for her pioneering research on the importance of early caregiving relationships for infant development and well-being.  

At a June 7th reception announcing the name change, Barnard remarked, “naming of the Center on Infant Mental Health and Development to the Barnard Center, after my family, means a great deal to me as the last person in my Barnard clan.  With my never marrying or having children myself, naming of the Center gives me a legacy.”

Barnard recognized that caring for infants and young children is challenging in the best of circumstances. Even when adults do their best, babies may cry inconsolably, sleep erratically, feed with difficulty or develop poorly. When they have concerns, parents turn to many kinds of professionals to help their babies.  These professionals may be very knowledgeable about infant development, but rarely know how to treat the baby within the context of the child-parent relationship. At the Barnard Center, professionals from many disciplines learn how to help parents have the warm, happy relationships with their children that support maximum growth, regulation and learning. In turn, babies are given the best possible start in life. Research indicates that nurturing relationships are vital to child development, and, as Barnard says, “the first three years last a lifetime.”

“On average it takes 15 to 20 years for a “scientific” idea, tool and method to become adopted and fully integrated into clinical practice….individuals that can successfully bridge the two worlds are rare, and Dr. Barnard is one of those individuals,” said Monica Oxford, Director of the School of Nursing’s NCAST program, which  disseminates research-based programs to service providers internationally. Most of their programs were developed by Barnard. “It was this dual role as well as her passion to support clinical practice that enabled her to be one of the earliest translational scientists over 35 years ago.”

Barnard’s pioneering research in disseminating knowledge to improve the physical and mental health outcomes of infants and young children earned her many accolades from nursing and medicine during her career. Barnard was only the fourth nurse to ever receive the Institute of Medicine’s Gustav O. Leinhard Award. She was also awarded the Episteme Laureate award from Sigma Theta Tau International.

About the Barnard Center

In 2001, with generous support from Lisa Mennet, Gabe Newell, Yaffa Maritz, and the Irving Harris Foundation, Kathryn Barnard established The Center on Infant Mental Health and Development, a partnership between the University of Washington’s School of Nursing and the Center for Human Development and Disability. Her vision was that every child has the right to the early nurturing relationships that are the foundation for life-long healthy development. The Center will continue to advance Kathryn Barnard’s vision, and ensure that professionals have the training and skills to ensure that infants and young children receive the best possible start. The Center continues to be a leader in research and evaluation, currently holding two federally-funded intervention trials for families with toddlers involved with Child Protective Services involved and foster care. The Center is also the local evaluation partner for the Educare Early Learning Center in White Center, a member school of the national Educare Learning Network.

Please see the Barnard Center website for more information:

View photos of the June 7th event on Flickr:


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently a top-rated nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit