About the Life Span Institute

A woman wearing black glasses holding a cup of coffee speaks with a woman with curly red hair about a science poster in front of them at a conference

The KU Life Span Institute brings together researchers at the intersections of education, behavioral science and neuroscience to study problems that directly affect the health and well-being of individuals and communities in Kansas, as well as across the nation and world.  In addition to this internationally-renowned research program, thousands of people benefit from the direct services, training and consultations provided by the KU Life Span Institute and its research centers.

The Life Span Institute includes 14 research centers and an affiliate in Peru. It is organized around a central office that provides research, finance, technology and communications support to more than 100 investigators. 

History and Leadership

The Life Span Institute began as the Kansas Bureau of Child Research. The university appointed Richard "Dick" Schiefelbush as the director in 1956. In 1990, it expanded to become the Life Span Institute, creating one of the premier research institutes in the nation on human and community development and disabilities. 

The Institute has had three directors: Stephen R. Schroeder, from 1990 until his retirement in 2001, Steven F. Warren, from 2000 to March 2008, when he was appointed vice provost for research and graduate studies at the University of Kansas, and John Colombo, who became the Institute’s third director in September 2008. 


The Life Span Institute attracts federal, state and private dollars at the University of Kansas, drawing $41.4 million in sponsored project support in FY 2023. 


The Institute’s administrative office and research support services are in the Robert Dole Human Development Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Research centers are located in Lawrence, Kansas City, Kan., and Parsons, Kan.