This U54 application seeks renewed funding for Vanderbilt University's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), based in Vanderbilt's Kennedy Center. Vanderbilt's IDDRC includes the full range of basic, clinical, and intervention scientists necessary to fulfill the goals for the EKS NICHD IDDRC program of translational research that improves the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families. Our IDDRC focuses on elucidating mechanisms and effective interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, genetic IDD syndromes, and acquired IDDs. Within each of these groups, IDDRC investigators discover underlying disease mechanisms, treatment targets, and aberrant developmental processes in model systems; assess cognitive, social, emotional, and neural phenotypes; and conduct innovative treatment and intervention studies. These activities are embodied in the U54 Research Project, Sensory and Multisensory Contributions to Autism, which meets the EKS NICHD Focus Theme #2: Outcome Measures for Interventions, and highlights an understudied but increasingly recognized characteristic of autism. Vanderbilt's U54 IDDRC includes 46 investigators from 15 academic departments who lead 69 research projects; 14 are funded by the EKS NICHD. We propose five exceptional, non-duplicative IDDRC Cores to support these investigators and that are also integrated into each Specific Aim of the U54 Research Project. The Administrative Core A provides scientific direction, manages IDDRC governance committees and activities, and leads innovative training and educational programs. Clinical Translational Core B meets investigators' immediate needs for recruiting and phenotyping participants with IDDs, while also assisting with clinical trials, mining novel epidemiological data for IDD phenotyping, and building a new resource of IDD outcome measures. Translational Neuroimaging Core C assists investigators with neuroimaging and psychophysiology data acquisition, processing, and analyses; creates novel experimental paradigms, and proposes big data approaches for large-scale investigations of IDD. Neuroscience Core D provides essential and inherently generative services in mouse neurobehavioral phenotyping, neurochemistry, molecular neurobiology and genomics, and scientific instrumentation, which designs, constructs, or repairs specialized research equipment. Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core E improves research quality with expert biostatistical consultation and training on topics that are relevant to IDDs, and also develops unique bioinformatics databases of electronic medical record data from patients with IDDs that are linked to their DNA. IDDRC Cores are thus customized to meet the immediate needs of our investigators, and also to generate novel, forward-thinking technologies, tools, or resources that drive innovative discoveries aimed at understanding and ameliorating IDDs.
The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's IDDRC provides 5 critical Core research services to be used by 46 accomplished investigators, including a U54 Research Project on Sensory and Multisensory Contributions to Autism (EKS NICHD Focus Theme #2). Shared Cores reduce study costs and enable researchers to use cutting-edge approaches that advance basic or clinical discoveries that lead to more effective interventions or treatments for individuals with autism, learning disabilities, genetic IDD syndromes, and acquired IDDs.
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