Research Areas

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Children with intellectual disabilities may develop more slowly or differently than their typically developing peers. A developmental delay occurs when a child doesn’t meet a development milestone within the expected time range based on averages. Some common causes of intellectual disability include genetic disorders including Down syndrome, cerebral malformations, infections, fetal alcohol syndrome and some metabolic diseases.

Children’s National scientists and physicians work together to study all aspects of healthy brain development, and to learn more about how intellectual disabilities impact the brain’s function and growth. The research teams believe that better understanding will lead to improved treatments in the short term and, one day, preventive care that might curb the effects of these disabilities and the disorders that cause them.

Children’s National leads an NIH-funded Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) in Washington, D.C., which includes investigators from the George Washington University and Georgetown University. Directed by Vittorio Gallo, Ph.D., the Center supports five scientific core resources used by more than 90 NIH funded investigators studying brain development and function. The activities of IDDRC investigators are distributed among seven areas of research: autism, brain tumors, epilepsy, neuromuscular disease, brain injury, urea cycle disorders and white matter disorders. The center has become a hub in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for studies in developmental disabilities and related disorders.