There are an estimated 7 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the United States. At least 2 million of these children and adults need ongoing services and support. Parents, teachers, physicians, psychologists and others are often overwhelmed by the challenge of helping children and adults with intellectual disabilities live healthy, productive, meaningful lives. The need for scientific research into the causes, prevention, and treatment of intellectual and developmental remains as great now as it was when the original Mental Retardation Research Centers program was established as part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in 1963.
The Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC) has been continuously funded by the NICHD for the past 45 years. Throughout its history, the KIDDRC has played a major role in supporting research on the causes, prevention and treatment of intellectual disabilities. The center exists across three sites: the KU-Lawrence campus, the Kansas University Medical Center campus and the Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the Children's Campus of Kansas City. Over the past four decades, it has served as a model of interdisciplinary collaboration across campuses and disciplines.
As a result of the Developmental Disabilities Research Centers program, advances have been made in our understanding of many biological and behavioral processes underlying human development and the conditions that occur when these processes go awry. Recent breakthroughs in neuro-, genomic- and behavioral sciences show that human development is an ongoing, dynamic interchange between nature and nurture. Science has identified many pieces of the intellectual disability puzzle, and how some of those pieces fit together to the benefit of many. Nevertheless, continued programmatic research with a broad interdisciplinary perspective is needed to meet the goals of preventing, supporting, and remediating intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Research programs grow best in an environment that strategically addresses their needs. Our research themes emerged organically from the strengths of individual investigator programs. The purpose of the Center is to provide the optimal research environment and strategic attention necessary for our scientific themes to thrive. This is accomplished by providing scientific core support that is tailored to the needs of our programs and by facilitating investigator interactions through communication and leadership.
John Colombo, Ph.D., Director (right)
Peter Smith, Ph.D., Co-Director