Our Vision

A child wearing glasses sits on a toy with a wooden steering wheel while a man smiles and stands next to hiim

History and purpose

There are an estimated 7 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) 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 IDD live healthy, productive, meaningful lives.

The need for scientific research into the causes, prevention and treatment of IDD 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 half century. 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. Across its history, the Center has served as a model of interdisciplinary collaboration across campuses and disciplines.

Research and advances

Great advances have been made as a result of the NIH’s Developmental Disabilities Research Centers program in our understanding of the biological and behavioral processes underlying human development and the conditions that occur when these processes develop in ways that interfere with daily functioning.

Recent breakthroughs in neurosciences, genomics and the behavioral sciences show that human development is not the product of the fixed contributions of nature and nurture, but rather is the result of an ongoing, dynamic interchange of the individual’s interactions with the environment.

Science has identified many pieces of the IDD 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.

Our research themes emerged from the strengths of individual investigator programs over the years. The Center seeks to provide strategic guidance to these programs of research and for the themes to advance, remain state-of-the-art in the field and provide the greatest impact possible.