About the Center

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania was established in 1990 with the support of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The goals of the Center are:

The Center is intended to augment existing National Institutes of Health (NIH) or National Science Foundation (NSF) awards so that qualified investigators can expand their research horizons beyond the scope of their grants. At present, the Center’s membership includes over 120 projects from over 75 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.

The Center is directed by Marc Yudkoff, MD. Dr. Yudkoff is William T. Grant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Metabolic Disease at CHOP. Dr. Yudkoff has final responsibility for integration of scientific efforts, management of Center funds, preparation of the grant application and scientific reports, internal administration, organization of the Mid-Atlantic Research Consortium, and articulation with the other centers in the IDDRC network. Dr. Yudkoff investigates amino acid metabolism in the brain and whole body, focusing on the development of new treatments for child 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 and metabolism.

Michael B. Robinson, PhD is the Associate Director of the Center. Dr. Robinson is also Professor of Pediatrics and the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and a member of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at CHOP. As Associate Director of the IDDRC, Dr. Robinson oversees quality assurance of the core laboratories and directs the seminar series. He is in charge of the IDDRC training program and directs the NINDS-funded T32 program (Training Program in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) at CHOP. Dr. Robinson’s research focuses on brain glutamate transport, particularly signaling pathways that regulate this transport and their relationship to acute brain injury.