All District of Columbia Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (DC-IDDRC) academic activities at Children’s National contribute to the training of the next generation of IDDR investigators. These include:

DC-IDDRC Seminar Series

Children’s hosts a monthly seminar series at 12 p.m. the 4th Thursday of each month focused on intellectual and developmental disabilities research. Speakers include investigators from other IDDRCs, as well as from other U.S. academic institutions. The interdisciplinary nature of our IDDRC is reflected by the speakers and audience attending these seminars, which includes basic, translational and clinical researchers.

T32 IDDR Training Program

Children’s has offered the T32 post-doctoral intellectual and developmental disabilities research training program since 2005. The program focuses on five areas of inquiry associated with intellectual and developmental disabilities including autism, learning disabilities (developmental dyslexia), traumatic brain injury, epilepsy and urea cycle disorders. The program draws on 15 faculty preceptors in the areas of neuroscience, neurobehavioral science and genetics from seven departments at Children’s, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Georgetown University Medical School.

Children’s is particularly well positioned to lead the T32 training program, based on its:

  • Strengths in basic, translational and clinical research and mentorship in all the proposed areas of inquiry
  • Well-established collaborations with Georgetown University
  • Leading role in a number of National Institutes of Health grants focusing on conditions causing intellectual and developmental disabilities

Two postdoctoral fellows, an M.D. and a Ph.D., are recruited to participate in the training program each year. The program aims to encourage M.D.s to develop as researchers in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities and to stimulate greater participation of promising Ph.D. researchers in this area. Each trainee chooses a mentor’s laboratory focusing on one of these areas, but rotates through all components to acquire interdisciplinary training in the specific disorder being studied. Trainees are carefully mentored through the program to ensure that they fully exploit the range of opportunities of the program.

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program at Children’s prepares career-focused future leaders in the field of neurodevelopmental and related disabilities to address health and social needs. It aims to design, implement, evaluate, refine and disseminate innovative service, teaching and research activities for the care of children with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities (CND) and children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN), especially those of underrepresented, under-resourced populations.

Driven by best evidence-based practices, the LEND program achieves its purpose through state-of-the-art blended learning techniques, professional interdisciplinary and inter-institutional supervision and regional technical assistance in the form of direct population engagement. In addition, Children’s enables “scholar-practitioner” trainees and fellows to design and conduct clinical, community and translational research activities leading to the education and mentorships of others. All of this is accomplished in a professional environment that ensures both attention to and development of adult learner objectives that lead to career success.

Children’s LEND program serves as a “hub” of interdisciplinary activity on behalf of CND, CSHCN and their families within a consortium of Washington D.C., regional institutions including:

  • Children’s National: A major academic children's medical institution
  • Two schools of medicine: The George Washington School of Medicine & Health Sciences and Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Two universities specifically dedicated to the service of minorities: Howard University and Gallaudet University
  • Two specialized elementary schools: Bright Beginnings, Inc. and the Ivymount School, each serving important minority and children with disabilities
  • A unified city-wide task force of stakeholders dedicated specifically to ensuring success in combating autism in this region

The D.C. region is unique, diverse and the seat of many national organizations serving the community with disabilities. For this reason, the LEND program at Children’s has the capacity to serve children with CND, CSHCN and their families while also having a significant impact on the community through training, capacity building, technical assistance, and providing services. We believe it should serve as the nation’s model for an academic and community dedicated regional program.

Laboratory Based Research for Graduate Students

Graduate students from the following affiliated institutions can access DC-IDDRC core facilities and resources:

  • George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Georgetown University Medical School
  • University of Maryland Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program (NACS)

Postdoctoral Trainees and Clinical Fellows

All postdoctoral trainees and clinical fellows from Children’s, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Georgetown University Medical School who are working with DC-IDDRC investigators can access DC-IDDRC core facilities and resources.

New Program Development with Children's Academic Partners

Synergy with our academic partners, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Georgetown University (GWU) Medical School enables new program development. The DC-IDDRC promotes strong collaborations among investigators and development of new grants and initiatives. For example, the recent establishment of the Autism Institute and the Institute for Neuroscience at GWU has promoted a number of intellectual and developmental disabilities research collaborations between the institutions.