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Advancing Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research at KU

This project will help KU address the complex genetic, biological, and environmental factors that cause intellectual and developmental disabilities, and how best to develop interventions to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disability so that they can live their best lives.

Improving and enriching lives through research

With support from the KU Research Rising initiative, KU Life Span Institute scientists are building on more than 60 years of intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) research. This work has improved and enriched the lives of thousands of individuals and their families. The Life Span Institute Research Rising project will enhance KU’s ability to maintain this longstanding global strength and elevate KU’s ability to address major questions in the field, such as the complex genetic, biological, and environmental factors that cause IDDs and how best to develop interventions to support individuals with IDD so that they can live their best lives.

The team leading this effort is:

  • John Colombo, director of the KU Life Span Institute
  • Matt Mosconi, director of the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training
  • Karrie Shogren, Director of the KU Center on Developmental Disabilities

The project also includes research colleagues Olivia Veatch, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, KU School of Medicine, and Peter Smith, Senior Associate Dean for Research, School of Medicine.

Research Rising is a five-year initiative investing more than $12 million in four interdisciplinary projects that will address critical challenges facing humanity. The projects, which align with one or more of KU’s five strategic research areas, will allow emerging areas of research at KU to blossom through recruitment of key faculty expertise

Recent News

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Open Position

We are recruiting for a position focused on behavioral genetics and their application to understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).
Matt Mosconi speaking in a conference room

Intensive Training Program Launches

The KU Life Span Institute has launched a nine-month intensive program focused on supporting early career investigators in their efforts to secure federal grant funding for intellectual and developmental disability research. 
Brain scans on a black background

Open Position

We are recruiting an individual with expertise in neurodevelopmental processes associated with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) and state-of-the-art systems neuroscience approaches for understanding brain pathways.
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Apply for Pilot Awards Program

The Life Span Institute invites proposals for pilot projects broadly involving studies of intellectual developmental disabilities (IDDs), including autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and others. Proposals due Oct. 31.

Toward a precision approach

The last 20 years of research have revealed that while many children experience significant gains by participating in educational and support strategies developed through research, not all supports work for all children. In other words, we need to understand each individual with an IDD in order to best support each individual. Our ability to identify the roots of this variability rests with expertise in analyses of individuals at the genomic and molecular level, and the understanding of the scope of this variability lies with the use of data science in analyzing the complex profiles seen within the many conditions of IDD.

This project is crafted around the goal of cultivating the multidisciplinary research environment needed to develop these more personalized approaches for supporting neurodiverse populations. 

In the video below, Life Span Institute director John Colombo explains more about the aims of this project. 

Research Rising Candidates

Meghan Miller, PhD, Associate Professor, University of California Davis School of Medicine Thursday December 14th, 2023 12:00pm “Early transdiagnostic influences on the emergence of autism and ADHD: Lessons learned from infants at elevated familial likelihood”

Evie Malaia Evie Malaia, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Alabama December 11th, 2023 4:00pm “Computational modeling of brain structure and function in clinical populations” 

Carissa Cascio, PhD, Associate Professor, Vanderbilt Seminar: Nov 9, 11 am-12 pm: "Sensory development and physiology in autism" 

Meghan Puglia, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia Seminar, Nov 6, 3 pm -4 pm: "Towards Earlier Detection of Autism Spectrum Disorders"

Dr. Shula Green, November 2, 2023  “Altered Sensory Processing in Neurodevelopmental Conditions: From Neuroscience to Intervention”