Mid-Atlantic Consortium Newsletter Summer 2013

Consortium Members

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Marc Yudkoff

Marc Yudkoff, M.D.

The Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (IDDRC) at Children’s Hospital/University of Pennsylvania was established in 1990 with the support of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

The goals of the center are:

  1. To make available core laboratory services that support research in the field of developmental disabilities
  2. To encourage new projects by sponsoring seminars, lectures and visiting professorships
  3. To enhance inter-disciplinary research
  4. To improve methods for the diagnosis and treatment of developmental disabilities
  5. To bring young investigators into the field through a New Program Development Award

The center is intended to augment existing National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation awards so qualified investigators can expand their research horizons beyond the scope of their grants. At present, center membership includes more than 90 projects from more than 65 investigators from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences. The IDDRC faculty includes prominent investigators who have made seminal discoveries in fields such as brain development, inborn errors of metabolism, myelin biology and the genetics of neurologic disease.

It is directed by pediatrician Marc Yudkoff, M.D., chief of the Division of Child Development, Rehabilitation and Metabolic Disease at CHOP. Dr. Yudkoff investigates amino acid metabolism in the brain and whole body, focusing on the development of new treatments for children with inborn errors of nitrogen metabolism such as urea cycle defects. He also studies the effects of the high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet — a highly effective therapy for children with epilepsy — on brain amino acid metabolism.

Children’s National Medical Center

Vittorio Gallo

Vittorio Gallo, PhD

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at Children’s National Medical Center conducts multidisciplinary, translational, clinical and community research in intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its goals are to develop a better understanding of the causes underlying these conditions, develop innovative therapies, and prevent or ameliorate them, thereby permitting each child to achieve his full physical and intellectual potential.

Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and directed by principal investigator Vittorio Gallo, PhD, the IDDRC at Children’s National focuses on the genetic, cellular, developmental and psychological causes of intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Dr. Gallo, an internationally recognized neuroscientist and developmental neurobiologist, is director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and the associate director of the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Children’s National. Research in Dr. Gallo’s center focuses on brain development and developmental disabilities. His research team works on the early postnatal development of the three major types of cells of the central nervous system: neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. His laboratory is interested in neurogenesis in the postnatal brain, and strategies of cell repair and regeneration based on the use of postnatal neural progenitors; intrinsic and extrinsic signals that regulate oligodendrocyte progenitor proliferation, migration and differentiation, and the process of myelination; astrocyte signaling, and extracellular factors that regulate astrocyte proliferation in the normal and injured brain.

Kennedy Krieger Institute

Michael F. Cataldo

Michael F. Cataldo, Ph.D.

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University features interdisciplinary collaboration and a central theme — brain mechanisms whereby genetics result in specific cognitive and behavioral characteristics of intellectual disability or developmental disability.

At the Hugo Moser Research Institute, Kennedy Krieger’s scientists and researchers are leaders in the worldwide effort to prevent and treat disorders of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system. Our investigators continue to break new ground with innovative magnetic resonance imaging technology; investigate critical areas, such as the role of genetics in developmental disorders; and develop new treatment models and therapies. Kennedy Krieger is committed to sharing our knowledge that can be adapted and used by other healthcare organizations to benefit patients across the country and around the world.

The IDDRC is directed by Michael F. Cataldo, Ph.D., director of the Department of Behavioral Psychology at Kennedy Krieger. Dr. Cataldo’s research has focused on the influence of basic operant training (learning techniques that increase socially adaptive responses, such as cooperation with instructions) on problems of child health and development. He has shown that behavioral problems in persons with developmental disabilities are functionally related to the environmental consequences of the behaviors. Working with colleagues in ambulatory care and public health, Dr. Cataldo has shown that operant approaches to child behavior and some medical problems not only can improve outcomes for patients, but can also reduce utilization of subsequent medical care.