Professor of Child Health, Child Development and Behavior
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Child Health
Faculty of Medical Sciences, Mona Campus, Jamaica
Maureen Samms-Vaughan pursued a career in pediatrics at University of the West Indies (UWI), joined the research team of the Jamaican Perinatal Study, and was awarded a Carnegie Corporation Research Fellowship to read for a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Bristol, UK. She also pursued clinical training in developmental and behavioral pediatrics.
In 1993, Professor Samms-Vaughn was appointed Lecturer in Child Health, UWI and Consultant Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). She was promoted to Senior Lecturer and was appointed Head, Department of Child Health in 2001, and in 2007 was appointed the UWI’s first Professor of Child Health and Child Development. She established the Child and Family Clinic for developmental and behavioral disorders, directing this service since its inception. Professor Samms-Vaughn became the first Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Government of Jamaica in 2003 and was seconded to the ECC for three years. She received a research award (Best Publication) from The UWI in 2004. She was the Distinguished Grace Kennedy Lecturer in 2006 and has been recognized by her preparatory and high school alma maters (Vaz Prep, Excelsior High, Jamaica) as an outstanding past student.
In recognition of her contribution to national development, she was awarded the Commander of the Order of Distinction for services to early childhood development and child health in 2007. Professor Samms-Vaughan research has focused on the comprehensive identification of factors influencing children’s development through childhood. She has led one of the earliest and most comprehensive longitudinal studies of child development in a developing country.
The Jamaican Birth Cohort studies have followed some 1,700 children from birth in 1986 to age 20 years. The Profiles Project, focusing on early childhood development, has followed children at age six, with follow-up to 11 years. The comprehensive nature of the studies has led to policy and programmatic interventions in the development of Jamaica’s National Parenting Policy, the improvement of early childhood development, interventions to reduce violent and aggressive behaviors and guidelines on television viewing by the Broadcasting Commission. Research on the impact of fatherhood on hormones was recently featured on National Geographic television.