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Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs)

Researcher, Jacob Michaelson, a white man with facial hair, wearing a lab coat and surgical gloves sitting in at a desk in a laboratory.Established in 1963 by Congress as "centers of excellence" for research in intellectual and developmental disabilities, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs) represent the nation's first and foremost sustained effort to prevent and treat disabilities through biomedical and behavioral research.

IDDRCs: Research, Education & Service


The IDDRC Network with AUCD membership consists of 15 Centers with current P50 core grant funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at NIH. Each IDDRC supports 40 -100 research projects on an annual basis. IDDRC projects seek to advance our understanding of the biological processes that contribute to brain health across the life span. Collectively, the IDDRCs overarching goal - through discovering fundamental principles related to brain function – is to build upon new knowledge and identify how alterations in such biological processes may directly impact I/DD. IDDRCs’ scientific and clinical findings are key drivers to developing cutting-edge tests for detecting and diagnosing brain health conditions, creating new behavioral, biological and biochemical therapies to be used in the clinic, and improving assistive technologies. 

These contributions aim to find tangible solutions that will empower people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in their communities – if, how and when they wish. Significantly, IDDRCs strengthen the research ecosystem, providing invaluable training, mentoring, and support opportunities for the current and next generation of emerging leaders in clinical and biomedical sectors. 

Examples of research areas include:

  • Genetic, genomic and chromosomal conditions associated with intellectual disabilities, such as Prader-Willi Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, and Down Syndrome
  • X chromosome conditions that result in neurological conditions including IDD, such as Rett syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome
  • Other rare conditions that are characterized by intellectual disabilities and co-occurring conditions such as epilepsy and mobility issues
  • 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 alterations, and prenatal malnutrition
  • Biological or biochemical mechanisms that cause behavioral characteristics including self-injurious behavior, and altered speech or language development.

Many IDDRCs also serve as a focal point for other federally-funded Centers with specific research and clinical foci that contribute to and enrich the IDDRC Network. 

Examples of other Centers and Program funded by NIH that interface with current IDDRCs include: 

  • Autism Centers of Excellence Program (NIH NICHD)
  • Centers for Collaborative Research in Fragile X and FMR1-Associated Conditions (NIH NICHD)
  • Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (NIH NCATS)


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.

Learn more about the IDDRCs by visiting NICHD's Supported Research website.