The John Merck Fund

Developmental Disabilities

After 21 years, the John Merck Scholars Program in the Biology of Developmental Disabilities has ended. The last awards were made in May 2011. While proud of the Scholars Program's extraordinary record of support for talented young researchers in the neurological sciences, the Fund is shifting the Developmental Disabilities Program to support research that has the potential for a more immediate impact on people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The goal of the Developmental Disabilities Program is to ensure that children with developmental disabilities and their families are benefiting from new research collaborations that bridge basic and clinical science, more rapidly translate findings into treatment settings, and promulgate the best clinical practices.

In 2012, the Fund launched the Developmental Disabilities Translational Research Program, which awards $1 million research grants over four years ($250,000 per year) to Principal Investigators at any career stage who have a deep commitment to developing treatments and improving outcomes for children with developmental disabilities, with a special focus on Down and Fragile X syndromes. Award criteria and application guidelines are available on the Translational Research Program page.  Note that the next round of competition will be held in 2015. 

To learn about the first recipients of the Translational Research Program awards, click here.

A second initiative, the Research to Clinical Practice Program, is in development. Its objective will be the identification and dissemination of gold-standard diagnostic and treatment protocols for Down and Fragile X syndromes. The program hopes to motivate scientists and clinicians to work together across disciplines. 

A Scientific Advisory Board consisting of distinguished experts in research and treatment of developmental disabilities is overseeing both programs.

Previous Program

The John Merck Scholars Program in the Biology of Developmental Disabilities in Children supported research into the underlying neurobiology of developmental disabilities and associated cognitive impairments from 1990 to 2011. Its goal was to gain insights that eventually might lead to breakthroughs in prevention and treatment.

See the list of John Merck Scholars