Tamar Heller, PhD

Professor and Head, Disability and Human Development

Professor Heller is head of the UIC Department of Disability and Human Development. She also directs the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities, the Advanced Training for Disability and Rehabilitation Scholars program, and projects on support interventions for individuals with disabilities and their families. She also directs the University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities for the State of Illinois.

Dr. Heller has written over 125 publications and presented over 200 papers at major conferences on disability policies and interventions. She has co-edited two books (Health of Women with Disabilities and Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities: Optimizing Choice and Change) and edited special issues of Technology and Disability, American Journal on Mental Retardation, Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, and Family Relations.

Previously, Dr. Heller directed a Family Studies and Services Program, which included an interdisciplinary diagnostic clinic serving nearly 1,000 families each year from the inner city, a family support program and studies on lifespan family support. Dr. Heller has served on the boards of the American Association on Mental Retardation, the European Course on Mental Retardation, and the boards of several leading national and international journals on disability issues. She was a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

Research Interests

Studying lifespan transitions faced by individuals with a disability and their families. As Director of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities, she oversees a comprehensive research program focusing on: 1) health and wellness, 2) later life family caregiving, and 3) public policy and programmatic interventions to improve the life of adults with developmental disabilities as they age. She also directs projects studying the impact of family supports on adults with disabilities and their families.

Recent and Noteworthy Publications

Ailey SH, Miller AM, Heller T, Smith EV Jr. Evaluating an Interpersonal Model of Depression among adults with Down syndrome. Res Theory Nurs Pract. 2006 Fall;20(3):229-46.

Caldwell J, Heller T. Longitudinal outcomes of a consumer-directed program supporting adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2007 Jun;45(3):161-73.

Heller T, Caldwell J. Supporting aging caregivers and adults with developmental disabilities in future planning. Ment Retard. 2006 Jun;44(3):189-202.

Heller T, Caldwell J, Factor A. Aging family caregivers: policies and practices. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2007;13(2):136-42. Review.

Heller T, Kramer J. Involvement of adult siblings of persons with developmental disabilities in future planning. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009 Jun;47(3):208-19.

Hsieh K, Heller T, Freels S. Residential characteristics, social factors, and mortality among adults with intellectual disabilities: transitions out of nursing homes. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009 Dec;47(6):447-65.

Wang KY, Hsieh K, Heller T, Davidson PW, Janicki MP. Carer reports of health status among adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities in Taiwan living at home and in institutions. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2007 Mar;51(Pt 3):173-83.

Yamaki K, Hsieh K, Heller T. Health profile of aging family caregivers supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at home. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009 Dec;47(6):425-35.