Established in 1963 by Congress as "centers of excellence" for research in mental retardation and developmental disabilities, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs) [formerly known as Mental Retardation Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (MRDDRCs)] represent the nation's first and foremost sustained effort to prevent and treat disabilities through biomedical and behavioral research. IDDRCs also contribute to the development and implementation of evidence-based practices by evaluating the effectiveness of biological, biochemical, and behavioral interventions; developing assistive technologies; and advancing prenatal diagnosis and newborn screening.
The network of IDDRCs with AUCD membership consists of 14 Centers with current P30 core grant funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Eight IDDRCs are co-located in universities with UCEDDs or LENDs.
IDDRCs: Research, Education & Service
The information below is summarized from the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MRDD) Branch NICHD Report to the NACHHD [National Advisory Child Health and Human Development] Council (2005, June). Washington, DC.
Although Centers differ in many respects, each IDDRC supports 40-100 Research Projects and 20-70 Principal Investigators on an annual basis. IDDRCs are engaging in research to advance the understanding of
- Chromosomal conditions that cause intellectual disabilities, such as Prader-Willi Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, and Down Syndrome
- Other conditions that are characterized by intellectual disabilities
- X chromosome disorders that result in intellectual disabilities, such as Rett Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome
- Biochemical processes and metabolic issues that are related to brain functioning, brain injury, or long-term consequences to the brain, such as hypoxia, very low birth weight, PKU and other metabolic disorders, and prenatal malnutrition
- Biological or biochemical mechanisms that cause behavioral characteristics, such as those found in Autism Spectrum Disorders, self-injurious behavior, and impairments in language development.
Many IDDRCs host "centers within centers" with specific research foci that contribute to and enrich the larger network. Current centers within centers funded by NIH are
- Three Fragile X Syndrome Research Centers (FXSRCs)
- Two Rare Disease Cooperative Research Centers (RDCRCs)
- Eight Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEAs)
- Five Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) Centers
IDDRCs provide invaluable research training, mentoring, and support through mechanisms such as
- Pre-Doctoral Fellowships
- Post-Doctoral Fellowships
- Independent Scientist Awards
- Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Awards
- Mentored Research Career Development Awards
- Mid-Career Investigator Awards
- Institutional Training Programs
IDDRCs contribute to the development and implementation of evidence-based practices by evaluating the effectiveness of biological, biochemical, and behavioral interventions; developing assistive technologies; and advancing prenatal diagnosis and newborn screening.