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Our Research Teams | Overview


Research teams in the Division of Developmental Medicine are investigating a wide array of questions about everything from infant memory development, to autism, to adolescent substance abuse. Read on for more information about individual programs.

The Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience

Under the direction of Charles A. Nelson, PhD, the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience are dedicated to furthering our understanding of brain and cognitive development in typically developing infants and children, as well as children diagnosed with or at risk for various developmental disorders, including autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Their multidisciplinary team of researchers brings together experts from a wide range of fields, including neuroscience, psychology, and education. In collaboration with clinical experts in fields such as developmental pediatrics and child neurology, they are working to expand our knowledge of child development and developmental disorders. Their central areas of focus include the development of memory and face-processing, the impact of environmental factors such as stress on cognitive development, and growing research programs in autism, ADHD, and dyslexia.

Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Program

In addition to providing expert evaluation and care for adolescents with substance abuse problems and disorders, ASAP is home to a thriving research program that aims to find ways to prevent or decrease substance abuse and associated problems. Our goal is to create improved supports for adolescents, families, and the providers that care for them. Eligible ASAP patients can participate in a variety of ongoing studies.

The Down Syndrome Research Program

The Down Syndrome Program’s research team works hand in hand with their clinical care team in their mission to help all individuals with Down syndrome reach their fullest potential. Their studies aim to shed light on brain and behavior development in individuals with Down syndrome by taking a multidisciplinary approach that considers everything from genetics, to neural pathways, to biomarkers. In particular, they focus on cognition, learning and memory, as well as neurodevelopmental and behavioral impairments that commonly co-occur in individuals with Down syndrome. They are committed to developing valid and reliable diagnostic tools, as well as research aimed at exploring new educational, behavioral, and medical interventions which may improve overall functioning. Through their multi-center and multidisciplinary efforts, they also aim to understand the developmental trajectory and impact of medical issues in individuals with Down syndrome, and to explore potential interventions that may improve mental and physical health. 

The Clinical and Translational Research Program

The mission of the Clinical and Translational Research Program (CTRP) is to advance the practice of developmental and behavioral pediatrics through high quality, collaborative clinical and translational research. By bringing together expert scientists, clinicians, and clinician-scientists we aim to improve the many ways that we care for and support our patients and their families. From medication and treatment trials to the development of new diagnostic techniques, the CTRP is home to a wide range of projects. Please visit the Current Studies section of this website for more detail on individual studies in the CTRP.

The Fragile X Research Program

As part of the Fragile X Clinic and Research Consortium (FXCRC), our Fragile X Program works to coordinate research from across the nation and around the world, orchestrating projects that allow them to approach Fragile X from complementary angles. A great deal of this research is going on right here at Boston Children's.

CeASAR: Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research

The Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Boston Children's Hospital was created as a national research center committed to reducing substance abuse and related disorders in children and adolescents.

Neurodevelopmental Disorders Phenotyping Program (NDPP)

The Neurodevelopmental Disorders Phenotyping Program (NDPP) is a group of researchers from the Divisions of Developmental Medicine, Genetics, and the Program in Genomics at Boston Children's Hospital. The NDPP‘s main research focus is understanding the genetic and environmental causes of developmental disorders and how the features of these disorders are expressed in individuals. We are working together to gain a better understanding of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders.  We hope that our research will eventually lead to a better understanding of why developmental disorders occur, and will help doctors to diagnose patients at an earlier age. We also hope that our work will lead to better treatments and outcomes for children with developmental disorders and their families. The NDPP partners with other research groups from the Boston area, and across North America. These groups include the Boston-based Autism Consortium, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), and the National Institute of Mental Health. These collaborations have already started to produce some exciting results, and we are eager to see what the coming months and years will bring.