Neurodevelopmental Disorders

The Challenge

Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) impair growth and development of the brain or central nervous system and include:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Sensory-related disabilities
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Degenerative disorders

We need to understand these diseases, find better treatments, and ultimately identify ways to prevent them in the first place. Inroads to treatment and/or prevention of one condition may lead to similar progress for others; thus, studies of even rare diseases can have widespread significance.

The Innovation

Our goal is to:

  • Form a nationally renowned center for neuro-developmental disorders at UCSD
  • Enhance research and clinical efforts by hiring clinician-researchers in NDD and clinical trials specialists
  • Establish a tissue and gene bank for samples from children with NDD and their families

We also plan to host an interdisciplinary symposium to help us build synergy among scientists, educators, and clinicians, which generates more funding and opportunities for research. This translates into better care for children and adults with neuro-developmental disorders.

Research

UC San Diego and nearby institutions excel in research on neuro-developmental disorders. This includes studies of genetics, neuro-imaging, metabolism, behavior and cognition in children and adults with autism, developmental language impairment, genetic disorders such as Williams syndrome, Angelman and Joubert syndrome, and many other areas of active and exciting research.

Until now, progress in basic research has rarely translated into practical treatments for patients. UC San Diego’s Department of Neurosciences is poised to tackle this problem with its existing clinical and basic science focus in this area, strong emphasis in neurogenetics, and existing multidisciplinary grants addressing NDDs.

Patient Care

More clinicians are needed to care for children with NDDs and take over care when the patients reach adulthood. These patients need coordinated, comprehensive services, which are currently fragmented.

Education

Medical students and residents have little exposure to patients with NDDs, especially adults.


Related Faculty

Related Research

Related Clinical Programs


Related Videos 
Brain graphic 

Watch a discussion with Drs. Eric Courschesne and Karen Pierce on autism research.

Watch a discussion with Dr. Doris Trauner on brain development.