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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Leah Stein Duker PhD, OTR/L

Leah Stein Duker PhD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor of Research

CHP 222U
(323) 442-0371
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Leah Duker completed her undergraduate education at Emory University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She received her MA in Occupational Therapy degree from the University of Southern California with a focus on pediatrics including school-based practice and sensory integration interventions. She worked in the field of pediatrics (primarily school-based and sensory integration) before coming back to the USC to complete her PhD in Occupational Science to examine, with her advisor Dr. Sharon Cermak, the impact of the sensory environment on children with autism spectrum disorders receiving oral care. She remained at USC for her postdoctoral fellowship in Training in Rehabilitation Efficacy and Effectiveness Trials, a NIH-funded T32 Postdoctoral Training Program at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Therapy (5T32HD064578-03; co-PIs Florence Clark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA and James Gordon, EdD, PT, FAPTA).

Dr. Duker is currently funded by a NIH NICHD/NINDS Rehabilitation Research Career Development program K12 grant and an American Occupational Therapy Foundation intervention research grant. Dr. Duker is also a co-investigator on a National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research grant (DE024978-01, PI Sharon Cermak, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA) to explore the efficacy of adapting the sensory environment of the dental office in order to decrease behavioral and physiological distress in children with autism spectrum disorders. In 2021, she was named a recipient of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s A. Jean Ayres Award for commitment to research-related development or testing of occupational therapy therapy, especially in sensory processing.

Research Interests

Dr. Duker’s research is focused on designing and studying the efficacy of tailored environmental modifications to alleviate behavioral stress, physiological distress, and pain in children undergoing difficult healthcare procedures and in their caregivers. Her research interests include autism, sensory processing, Multisensory Environments and both traditional wired and innovative wireless techniques for measuring psychophysiological stress and anxiety. Her work has examined care in a variety of settings, including dentistry, primary care, oncology, emergency medicine, and mHealth.

Education

Selected Publications

In Chan News