The EKSIDDRC program, established one year after the NICHD’s founding, supports researchers whose goals are to advance understanding of a variety of conditions and topics related to Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). The NICHD Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDB) Branch funds the program, which includes 15 research centers, located at universities and children’s hospitals throughout the country.
The EKSIDDRCs rely on a core grant mechanism to fund infrastructure research cores that support independently funded, IDD-relevant projects, as well as a small portion of new program projects. This structure allows the centers to support substantially more projects and investigators than would be possible using NICHD support alone. For example, each center currently supports at least 45 to more than 150 projects, and at least 20 to more than 70 principal investigators, who receive funding from a variety of sources.
Centers offer different research services, including information technology, bioinformatics, and biostatistics, as well as gene array, proteomics, and behavioral and clinical core services. Many studies involve collaborations with researchers outside the program to leverage multiple funding sources. Although the centers differ in many aspects, including (but not limited to) their scientific focus, size, lifespan, and history, they also share common features that are discernable and important, and include their focus on support of a variety of investigators engaged in basic, clinical, and translational science related to IDD.
Areas of research for center investigators include (but are not limited to) studies of:
- Chromosomal conditions that cause IDD, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Angelman syndrome, Williams syndrome, and Down syndrome;
- Conditions identified by newborn screening associated with cognitive impairment;
- Other conditions that are characterized by IDD;
- X-chromosome disorders, such as Rett syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, that result in IDD;
- Disorders that involve biochemical processes and metabolic issues related to brain functioning, brain injury, or long-term consequences to the brain, such as hypoxia, very low birth weight, Phenylketonuria, and prenatal malnutrition; and
- Biological or biochemical mechanisms that cause behavioral problems, such as those found in autism spectrum disorders, self-injurious behavior, and impairments in language development.
Current sites within the EKSIDDRC program are: