We propose an annual conference to help transform the field of research on developmental disabilities by training the next generation of scientists to conduct interdisciplinary translational research integrating behavioral science and neuroscience. The conference will be organized by a network of training programs funded by NIH (T32) Institutional Research Training Grants. The Interdisciplinary Training Conference in Developmental Disabilities (ITCDD) will be designed for the (doctoral and post-doctoral) scholars-in-training in these programs as well as for scholars-in-training not affiliated with a T32 program.
The specific aims are (1) to promote the integration of behavioral science and neuroscience in the research programs of these scholars-in- training;(2) to accelerate the professional and scholarly development of these scholars-in-training;(3) to create an infrastructure that provides ongoing mentoring and support to these scholars-in-training;and (4) to increase the effectiveness of the T32 programs. The conference will be linked to the Gatlinburg Conference on Intellectual Disabilities, another NIH-funded conference. We anticipate attendance by 70-85 people. The 1.5- day conference will include plenary talks highlighting the value of, and ways of creating, an interdisciplinary program of research;seminars on professional development issues;discussions of research training;and scientific presentations by scholars-in-training. Funds are requested largely to support travel for the non-T32 scholars-in-training, including those from under-represented ethnic/racial groups and those with disabilities. An innovative feature is the requirement for post-conference interdisciplinary mentoring by T32 faculty members.
This conference is designed to dramatically change the training of the next generation of researchers studying a wide range of developmental disabilities, from autism to Down syndrome. The conference capitalizes on an existing infrastructure of training programs and is designed to encourage the integration of behavioral science and neuroscience in the research of the next generation of scholars. Such integration is critical for translational research efforts that can lead to improved outcomes for people with disabilities and their families.