Newswise — October 17, 2011 – (BRONX, NY) – The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University $5.7 million to fund the Rose F. Kennedy Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC). The grant supports Einstein’s ongoing efforts to improve the lives of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) through combined basic science research and clinical practice.
Occurring in an estimated 10 percent of the population, IDDs constitute some of the most significant health conditions in children. They represent a diverse group of chronic conditions – such as autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome – that can limit daily function and impede mobility, language and more. IDDs can begin anytime during a child’s development up to 22 years of age, and usually last a lifetime.
“The Rose F. Kennedy Center was founded more than 40 years ago as one of the nation’s flagship centers on mental retardation,” said Steven Walkley, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of Einstein’s IDDRC and professor in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience. “This grant allows us to intensify the translational research we’ve been doing, which when coupled with clinical care, may lead to a better understanding of the causes, consequences and potential treatments of these conditions.” Dr. Walkley is also professor of pathology and in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology. John Foxe, Ph.D., director of research at Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), will serve as the center’s associate director.
Einstein’s IDDRC is an interdisciplinary collaboration involving numerous academic departments – including neuroscience, genetics, neurology and pediatrics – along with the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center and CERC, which is directed by Robert Marion, M.D., the Ruth L. Gottesman Professor of Developmental Pediatrics. Its six scientific cores are designed to provide the means for human and animal phenotyping, neuron and whole brain imaging, cell and tissue manipulation, and genetic analysis.
There will be four main areas of focus for the IDDRC that draw on Einstein’s strengths in basic science research and extensive clinical practice. The themes are autism spectrum disorders, neurogenetic and seizure disorders, nutritional and environmental determinants of brain development, and deafness and communication disorders.
“While tremendous strides have been made over the past four decades to identify and treat these disorders, it is critical to leverage the most recent advances in research and technologies to better understand what causes them and provide more targeted and effective therapies,” explained Dr. Walkley. “Through the combined efforts of our faculty researchers and clinicians, we hope to improve methods of diagnosis, prevention and treatment.”
Einstein’s IDDRC will also continue to build and sustain outreach programs to help alleviate some of the burden of IDDs on families in the Bronx, which is one of the most ethnically diverse and poorest urban counties in the United States.
About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva UniversityAlbert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Einstein is home to 724 M.D. students, 256 Ph.D. students, 122 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 375 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has 2,770 fulltime faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2009, Einstein received more than $135 million in support from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Through its extensive affiliation network involving five medical centers in the Bronx, Manhattan and Long Island – which includes Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Einstein – the College of Medicine runs one of the largest post-graduate medical training programs in the United States, offering approximately 150 residency programs to more than 2,500 physicians in training. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu.