School Creates Institute for Developmental Disabilities

UNC’s School of Medicine has established a new institute to advance research, training and treatment efforts aimed at aiding children and adults with developmental disabilities.

The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities brings together four existing programs on campus – the TEACCH Program (Treatment and Education for Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children); the Clinical Center for Development and Learning; the Family Support Network of North Carolina; and the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center.

Officials said the new institute would be one of the largest programs for developmental disabilities in the country and UNC’s primary source for treatment, education and research in this field. The institute is expected to foster partnerships with organizations across the state to promote and develop education and treatment programs. It also is expected to provide resources to support North Carolinians with developmental disabilities and their families and promote research on the causes, development, effects and treatment of these conditions.

Dr. Joseph Piven, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of psychiatry and pediatrics in the School of Medicine and UNC’s psychology department, has been named founding director of the institute.

Other leaders of the institute include Jim Bodfish, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, who has been named the new director of the Clinical Center for Development and Learning. Jeffry Low, a project director at the Clinical Center for Development and Learning, has been selected as the institute’s deputy director, overseeing administrative aspects of the organization. Gary Mesibov, a professor in the medical school’s psychiatry department and a psychology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Irene Zipper, clinical professor in the School of Social Work and a fellow with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, will continue as directors of TEACCH and the Family Support Network, respectively.

Plans for the new institute include relocation of the Clinical Center for Development and Learning to an 18,000-square-foot building, which currently houses the TEACCH program, on a five-acre campus 1.5 miles south of the UNC campus. This is pending approval of building plans by the town of Carrboro.

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