NEWS | July 24, 2020

Major grant for UC Davis Health center focused on disabilities research

NIH funding will allow the center to operate for five more years, continuing its focus on finding treatments for intellectual and developmental disabilities.


The National Institutes of Health has renewed the UC Davis MIND Institute’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) with a five-year, $6.2 million grant.

Research at the UC Davis MIND Institute’s IDDRC  Research at the UC Davis MIND Institute’s IDDRC

The center supports interdisciplinary research focused on understanding, treating and preventing the challenges associated with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The NIH funding, combined with the generous support of the UC Davis School of Medicine and its Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, allows us to create a strong and flexible infrastructure for our research,” said IDDRC Director Leonard Abbeduto, who also directs the MIND Institute. “It encourages innovation and facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration.”

A focus on finding treatments

The IDDRC acts like an engine for research at UC Davis Health and elsewhere by providing researchers with support and tools they likely wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise.

“The funding allows us to provide expertise, technology and resources that an individual investigator couldn’t easily access or afford,” said Abbeduto.

Those resources are organized into five key areas, or scientific cores. The support includes everything from equipment, like highly specialized microscopes, to biostatistics experts who help analyze results, to scientists working in the center’s rodent behavior facilities. There’s also a large online registry that connects researchers with interested families.

The goal of the IDDRC is to bring disciplines together to increase the likelihood of finding treatments for neuro-developmental disabilities such as autism, fragile X syndrome, or Down syndrome.

“We really focus on taking very basic science and moving from there to more applied strategies and treatments,” said Abbeduto.

A prestigious network

The center is one of only 14 in the country and was established in 2013. It is part of a prestigious network of research centers, some of which have been operating for more than 50 years. The network represents the nation’s most sustained effort to prevent and treat disabilities through biomedical and behavioral research.

Abbeduto said the IDDRC has been a great fit for the UC Davis Health community.

“We’re leveraging the expertise that we have here at UC Davis to build these cores and to ensure they represent cutting-edge science, are cost-effective and more robust, and are able to support this kind of interdisciplinary research.”

Most of all, he said, there’s a considerable benefit to the community.

“I think the potential for treatment has been really accelerated by us having the IDDRC.”