Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Research Network Update

April 1, 2013

The Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Research Network (DBPNet) was formed in September 2010 when initial infrastructure funding was obtained from the Maternal Child Health Bureau.  DBPNet is a collaboration between 12 academic developmental-behavioral pediatrics programs and the Society for Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP). The mission of DBPNet is, "to conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research in developmental-behavioral pediatrics that advances clinical practice, supports research training, and optimizes the health and functional status of children with developmental and behavioral concerns and disorders, including children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities." 

The first study conducted by DBPNet surveyed a sample of developmental-behavioral pediatricians, psychologists, and parents of children with disabilities utilizing the Delphi procedure to identify important clinical research questions for the field of developmental-behavioral pediatrics.  This study, published in the July/August 2012 issue of the Journal of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (JDBP) identified 39  important questions including research questions related to risk factors, assessment of DBP conditions, practice variation, outcome assessment, and efficacy or effectiveness research.

A second DBPNet study identified components of research training in developmental-behavioral pediatrics fellowship programs and some outcomes of this research training. This study was presented at the 2012 SDBP Annual Meeting and found that the scholarly work of DBP fellows focuses primarily on observational/epidemiological research, secondary data analysis, community-based research, and survey design. The study highlighted barriers to research training including faculty time and expertise for research mentoring as well as inadequate funding in programs that have high clinical demands and little resources for research efforts. Ongoing DBPNet studies include a study of practice variation in the assessment and treatment of ADHD and autism by developmental-behavioral pediatricians, a study of referral concerns addressed by developmental-behavioral pediatricians, and a study of the use of psychotropic medications using data captured from electronic health records.

During the past year, DBPNet has also offered two awards. The DBPNet Young Investigator Award was received by Kathleen Angkustsiri, M.D., from the University of California at Davis M.I.N.D. Institute for her study, Maternal Immune Status and Autism Severity, which will be conducted at 3 DBPNet sites. In addition, the Network provided an Experienced Investigator Award to Emily Feinberg, ScD CPNP, at Boston University for her proposal to develop a grant application for her study, Family Navigation to Reduce Disparities in Timely Autism Diagnosis and Access to Early Intervention.

Individuals interested in learning more about DBPNet can visit the website at or contact Nathan Blum, M.D., ([email protected]) or Amy Gahman, B.A., ([email protected]) at the Network Coordinating Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.