This application seeks funding for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at the U of PA (Penn) and the Children's Hosp of Philadelphia (CHOP). Our IDDRC, now in its 25th year, is an inter- disciplinary program that is the chief agency at CHOP/Penn for the promulgation of research into the developmental disabilities. In the next cycle we build upon this foundation by proposing an innovative Center with 6 components: (1) A research project which uses magnetoencephalography (MEG) to develop a novel biomarker - an electronic signature - for non-verbal and minimally verbal children with autistic spectrum disorders; (2) A series of 6 research core facilities which will provide investigators with state-of-the-art facilities and expertise, including 2 new cores (Preclinical Models and Clinical Translational); (3) An educational program which will nurture a feeling of IDD Community by featuring monthly seminars, including the IDDRC Research Lecture, the Monthly Chalk Talks and the Autism Distinguished Lecture Series; (4) A career development initiative which will benefit dozens of exceptional young investigators who will receive support from the IDDRC New Program Development award (to be funded by the Philadelphia Foundation), the IDDRC-administered T32 Training Grant in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and several private awards (aggregate value ~ $3 million over 5 years) given by local philanthropies to the IDDRC; (5) A research advocacy mission which involves an IDDRC- CHOP/Penn collaboration to create Centers of Excellence that encourage inter-disciplinary translational research into IDD; and (6) Participation in the larger IDDRC Network in order to realize the scientific and organizational goals of the IDD Branch of NICHD. The Center will support 78 federally-funded projects ($23.3 million/yr), of which 15 are from NICHD ($5.8 million/yr). The theme of our IDDRC is Genes, Brain, Behavior, a designation which reflects our ongoing effort to understand IDD in 3 inter-related domains: (a) The genetic anlage which causes a disability or modulates disease severity; (b) The anomalies of brain biochemistry and neurophysiology which accompany genetic changes; and (c) The phenomenological manifestations of these genetic/neurophysiologic alterations which we recognize as clinical manifestations of the IDD. Our rationale for this reductionist approach is that the dissection of a disability into isolated and simpler components affords a strategy with which to develop therapies that will prevent, attenuate or even reverse the devastating consequences of the disorder. Over the coming 5 years the Center will pursue this aim by deploying these tools: cutting-edge research cores, a focus on translational research, the enormous clinical resources of CHOP/Penn, nurturing a cadre of future leaders, and a strong emphasis on creative partnership with the IDDRC Network.
Funding for the IDDRC at CHOP/Penn will advance research into the causes and treatment of the developmental disabilities. The Center advances this agenda with these initiatives: (a) A research project to develop a novel biomarker for language disability in autism; (b) Providing research support to the faculty at CHOP/Penn; (c) Creating and nurturing a true 'IDD Research Community'; (d) Mentoring and supporting promising young investigators who want to enter the field of IDD research; (e) Creating research 'Centers of Excellence' to favor inter-disciplinary investigations into IDD; and (f) Constructively partnering with the IDDRC Network to realize the goals of the IDD branch of NICHD.
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