Recognizing both medical progress and unmet needs in the field of developmental disabilities, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will house the Network Coordinating Center for a newly established collaborative organization, the Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Research Network.
Launched this year with a three-year, $200,000 per year grant from the federal government's Maternal Child Health Bureau, the Network brings together experts from 12 leading pediatric programs to focus on a broad range of neurodevelopmental disabilities, notably autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and intellectual disability (formerly referred to as mental retardation, and affecting an estimated 2 to 3 percent of children).
By fostering collaboration among leading clinical and research programs, said Blum, the Network will be able to sponsor multi-site studies in many patients to provide a large enough sample size to properly evaluate new treatments as they are developed.
The Network will also provide opportunities to make use of recent advances in genetics and neuroimaging, as applied to neurodevelopmental disorders. As those technologies may lead to better diagnostic tools, they offer the potential of earlier diagnosis and possibly earlier interventions. In particular, genetic studies such as those conducted at Children's Hospital's Center for Applied Genomics and other facilities are identifying biochemical pathways that are altered in neurodevelopmental conditions.