The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development (VKC), a Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (EKS-IDDRC), is in its 44th year of support from EKS NICHD. The VKC has experienced remarkable growth in the last five years in its research, service, and training missions. Historically, the VKC has been solely a research center, but the Center's mission has recently expanded to include research, service-outreach, and training. In 2005, the VKC was awarded a University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), and just this year the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) training program was administratively assigned to the VKC. Synergetic interactions across the IDDRC, UCEDD, and LEND have led to advances in recruiting participants, disseminating research, training new IDD researchers, and conducting translational research. Growth of the VKC is also reflected in the recruitment of 21 new research faculty, and development of state-of-the-science P30 cores to support an expanded basic and clinical science mission. The organizers propose 76 VKC investigators receive P30 support for 91 projects that span both basic and clinical research, with a balance between basic researchers who use model systems to study brain development, mechanisms of neuronal communication, and cellular and functional brain plasticity, and clinical researchers who examine cognitive and linguistic development, emotional regulation, and the impact of disabilities on families. The VKC P30 thus supports research in four major program areas: 1) basic mechanisms associated with typical and atypical development;2) cognitive processes and interventions;3) mental health and interventions;and 4) life impact effects on families and communities. Increasingly, however, VKC investigators cross these traditional boundaries to integrate cognitive and behavioral science with neuroscience and genetic methods to examine autism spectrum disorders;reading, math, and language disabilities;Prader-Willi, Angelman, Williams, and Down syndromes;ADHD;psychosis, depression, and anxiety disorders. To meet the needs of these ambitious research programs, the organizers propose five P30 cores: (A) Administrative;(B) Basic Neuroscience;(C) Statistics and Methodology;(D) Clinical Neuroscience, and (E) Participant Recruitment and Assessment. These cores are generative and advance the basic, clinical, and interdisciplinary research agendas of the VKC, while also creating a vibrant, interactive environment for VKC investigators, families, and trainees.
Approximately one in five children have a developmental disability, including autism spectrum disorders, learning and intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, ADHD, and mood disorders. This Center provides cutting-edge research services to Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigators that allows them to make new discoveries about the causes of disabilities, and how to best intervene to foster successful outcomes in children and adults.
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