The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at UNC
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 Latest News
Announcing the UNC School of Social Work’s First Course on Autism Spectrum Disorder
First Summer Session Fridays, May 18 - June 15, 2018 – 9 AM – 12:00 Noon SOWO 709 - Autism Spectrum Disorder: Social Cognitive Interventions – 1.5 credits Instructor: Sherry C. Mergner, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Assistant Professor Contact: for information on this course. More »
LEND Self-Advocate Trainee Applications
Now Open for 2018-2019
The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities is recruiting a trainee with a developmental disability for inclusion in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program for the 2018-2019 academic year. Applications are due March 31, 2018. For more information or to request an application contact More »
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: “Diagnosis of Autism in Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing”
There is no charge to attend this meeting but registration is required. For questions or additional information contact: Jackson Roush, PhD More »
SAVE THE DATE – April 6, 2018
“Diagnosis of Autism in Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing”
The meeting will be of interest to professionals involved in screening, diagnosis, or treatment of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and who have, or are suspected of having, an autism spectrum disorder, as well as students in a relevant professional discipline. More »
Congratulations to Dr. Gabriel Dichter!
The UNC Department of Psychiatry awarded CIDD Director of Research Dr. Gabriel Dichter with the 2017 Junior Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. This award was established by the department to recognize the commitment of faculty members to the career development specifically of junior faculty.
UNC Named NIH Autism Center of Excellence
The National Institutes of Health has awarded nine research grants totaling nearly $100 million over the next five years for the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE), a program that supports large research projects aimed at understanding and developing interventions for autism spectrum disorder. The ACE program was created in 2007 from the consolidation of previous programs. Grants have been awarded every five years, and 2017 marks the third cycle of ACE grants. UNC-Chapel Hill is one of only two lead sites to have earned grants in all three cycles, in addition to having been awarded a Center grant under the previous mechanism awarded in 2002, the NIH Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) Centers. More »
The UNC Autism Research Center
UNC-Chapel Hill has long been one of the world’s premier autism research universities, and now its expertise and leading research programs will fall under one virtual roof at the UNC Autism Research Center. More »
Predicting Autism: Study Links Infant Brain Connections to Diagnoses at Age 2
In two previous studies, CIDD researchers and colleagues linked infant brain anatomy differences to autism diagnoses at age two. Now they show differences in functional connections between brain regions at 6 months to predict autism at age two. More »
2017 Angelman Syndrome Foundation Walk
Please join the “UNC CIDD” team at the Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF) walk on Saturday, May 20, 2017 in Durham. This year our team will join more than 10,000 people across the US, Canada and Mexico for the 2017 Angelman Syndrome Foundation Walk to raise funds for treatments and a cure for Angelman Syndrome. More »
Interview on North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC)
CIDD researchers have made breakthroughs ranging from findings that identify new genes linked to autism, to a new study that shows it is possible to use MRI scans to predict whether babies with autistic siblings will develop autism themselves. Host Frank Stasio talks about this innovative research with CIDD Director, Dr. Joseph Piven, on WUNC’s program the State of Things. More »
Infant MRIs Show Autism Linked to Increased Cerebrospinal Fluid
MRIs show a brain anomaly in nearly 70 percent of babies at high risk of developing the condition who go on to be diagnosed, laying the groundwork for a predictive aid for pediatricians and the search for a potential treatment. More »
Benefits of Broccoli Extract in Young Men with Autism
Research study to explore possible benefits of a broccoli extract supplement (sulforaphane) for young men with autism. If you or someone you know may be interested in participating in this study, please contact: Olivia Sawh 919-962-8462 or More »
Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) 2-Day Introductory Workshop
Presented by Debbie Reinhartsen, PhD, CCC-SLP, this workshop is being offered on February 27 & 28, 2017 at the Carolina Institute for 13 Credit Hours. More »
Expanding Our Knowledge About the Science of Autism: Achievements from IDDRCs
AUCD commentary for Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month highlights contributions by CIDD Investigators. More »
UNC Joins Launch of SPARK, Nation's Largest Autism Research Study
On April 21, 2016 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill helped launch SPARK, a research initiative designed to become the largest genetic research study for autism ever undertaken in the United States. The nationwide project will collect information and DNA from 50,000 individuals with autism - and their families - to better understand the causes of this condition and help usher in an era for personalized medicine and targeted treatment for people on the autism spectrum. More »
Autism Science Foundation Accelerator Grants Awarded to CIDD Investigators
The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) has awarded Accelerator Grants to two exceptional projects that will study new treatment mechanisms and improve data collection methods in community settings. Principal Investigators on the projects are CIDD graduate research assistants, Rachel Greene (supervised by Garret Stuber and Gabriel Dichter) and Maya Mosner (supervised by Gabriel Dichter). These studies were the only two awards funded by the ASF in this round of selection. More »
The Atlantic Tells Story of Adult Autism through Research at the Carolina Institute
Joseph Piven, MD, and his team at the CIDD are trying to fill the gaps in our understanding of what it has meant and will mean to live with autism as older adults.  More »
Gabriel Dichter Honored with Hettleman Award

CIDD Investigator and faculty member, Gabriel Dichter, Ph.D., has been  awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty for his advances in understanding the neural mechanisms of social motivation in autism. Prior CIDD research faculty award winners include Drs. Garret Stuber, Mark Zylka, and Ayse Belger.

More »
UNC Scientists Pinpoint How a Single Genetic Mutation Causes Autism
Last December, researchers identified more than 1,000 gene mutations in individuals with autism, but how these mutations increased risk for autism was unclear. Now, UNC School of Medicine researchers are the first to show how one of these mutations disables a molecular switch in one of these genes and causes autism. More »
Trainee Opportunity for Leadership and Advocacy

The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  is recruiting a trainee with a developmental disability for inclusion in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. This is a nine-month commitment for the 2015-2016 academic year. Applications are due March 20, 2015. For more information contact


The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( invites applications for postdoctoral leadership training in psychology. The CIDD is home to three core federal training initiatives which offer clinical and research opportunities: University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDD); Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND); and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC).

The CIDD offers interdisciplinary clinical and research training designed to promote advanced competencies in intellectual/developmental disabilities. The post-doctoral fellowship allows specialization in intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, early childhood, genetic conditions, co-occurring psychiatric/behavioral disorders, community consultations, and pediatric neuropsychology.

The fellowship is a minimum of twelve months in duration, beginning September 1, 2015 with the possibility of a second year of training pending funding. Salary determination follows NIH and university guidelines.

Requirements include:

  • completed doctoral degree in an applied area of psychology
  • clinically-based psychology internship
  • demonstrated interest and experience in intellectual/developmental disabilities

To apply, please send a letter detailing professional interests and goals, CV, and three letters of recommendation to Dr. Rebecca Edmondson Pretzel, CIDD, UNC-CH, CB# 7255, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7255. Email applications are preferred (

Application deadline is January 9, 2015. UNC is an Equal Opportunity/ADA employer.

Increasing Opportunities for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

CIDD faculty Deborah Zuver and Donna Carlson Yerby, co-facilitators of the North Carolina Postsecondary Education Alliance, are working to improve college education for students with developmental disabilities.

More »
CIDD joined in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!
Click here to go to the CIDD Facebook page and view our video.
Dr. Rebecca Edmondson Pretzel Named Associate Director of the Carolina Institute

The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) is pleased to announce the appointment of Rebecca Edmondson Pretzel, PhD as the new Associate Director of the Institute.  Dr. Pretzel is a psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry.  At the CIDD, she serves as the Associate Director of our federally-funded University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) program, Director of Clinical Services, and Psychology Section Head.  In addition, she is an investigator on a variety of research and training grants and supervises numerous graduate students and junior faculty. Through her longstanding experience working with many N.C. service agencies (e.g., the Department of Public Instruction, Early Intervention Branch and Division of MH/DD/SAS), Dr. Pretzel has played an important role in raising the level of care for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in the state.

More »
Autisms Impact on Families
Several CIDD staff and affiliates, including Dr. Mark Zylka, are featured in WBTV News 3's "On Your Side" special, "Autism: Answers and Understanding". The show examined many of the key issues facing families who have a child on the Autism spectrum. More »
Ann Palmer – New CIDD Faculty Member
Ann Palmer is the new Family Faculty member for the LEND Program at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) located at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She is a parent of an adult son with autism and a professional working in the field of autism for the last 20 years. More »
Identifying 1 year olds risk for Autism
Questionnaire completed by parents may help identify 1-year-olds at risk for autism. More »

Five-year-old Logan Bomar was diagnosed with Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome in November 2015. Logan’s family is on a mission to spread awareness about Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome and raise funds for research for a cure. All donations made to the Pitt Hopkins Research Foundation in honor of Logan will be used to fund CIDD research into finding a cure for Pitt Hopkins.
Read Logan Becomes a Tar Heel! >> »
NBC Nightly News reports on research led by UNC, featuring a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. CIDD investigators found various differences that allowed brain scans to correctly predict nine of 11 6-month-old infants who were later diagnosed with autism.
View video on NBC News »
CIDD Director, Joseph Piven, MD, discusses findings published February 15 in the journal, Nature. The study is the first to show it is possible to identify which infants – among those with older siblings with autism – will be diagnosed with autism at 24 months of age.
View video on CBS News »
CIDD Director, Joseph Piven, MD, was interviewed on CNN about research published in Nature. This first-of-its-kind study used MRIs to image the brains of infants, and then researchers used brain measurements and a computer algorithm to accurately predict autism before symptoms set in.
View Video on CNN »
Kellen Hassell rode his bike from Miami, Fla., to Chapel Hill in seven days, traveling almost 1,000 miles, to draw attention to Angelman Syndrome, a rare developmental disorder that affects his 4-year-old son Luciano, and to raise funds for research for a cure. Hassell raised more than $15,000 and presented the check to UNC's Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities.
Read more »
SPARK, the largest genetic research effort ever in the United States, could help doctors better understand the cause and effects of autism, which could lead to more targeted treatments.
View Video on WRAL >> »
A new UNC School of Medicine study shows how chemicals designed to protect crops can cause gene expression changes in mouse brain cells that look strikingly similar to changes in the brains of people with autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more >> »
Steven J. Gray is featured in a CBS News report on a new gene therapy approach to treat rare diseases.
View Video on CBS »
One out of 68 children born in the United States is later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. University of North Carolina researchers believe they have found a cause for one form of the disorder.
View Video on WRAL »
Dendrites, the branch-like projections of neurons, were once thought to be passive wiring in the brain. But now researchers at UNC have shown that dendrites actively process information, multiplying the brain’s computing power. The finding could help researchers better understand neurological disorders.
Read more »
Ben Philpot, Mark Zylka, colleagues find potential cause of autism. Findings published in the journal Nature outline the effects that key enzymes called topoisomerases can have on the genetic machinery behind brain development.
Read the article »
CIDD faculty discuss scientific challenges to autism cure on the CBS Evening News
View Video on CBS »
Researchers led by Benjamin D. Philpot, PhD, may have pinpointed an underlying cause of the seizures in people with Angelman syndrome (AS).
Read Abstract at Neuron »
Dr. Joe Piven, Director of the Carolina Institute, discusses using brain scans to detect early signs of Autism.
View Video on NBC »
 CIDD Newsletter
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 CIDD Calendar
4:00 PM
Ends at 5:00 PM
CIDD Autism Journal Club
Clare Harrop
12:15 PM
Ends at 1:30 PM
CIDD Investigator Forum
Richard Keefe, PhD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke University
4:00 PM
Ends at 5:00 PM
CIDD Autism Journal Club
Helen Mao
6:30 PM
Ends at 8:00 PM
CIDD Community Talk Series
Diana Cejas, M.D.
“Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult Healthcare: Tips for Youth with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities”
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center
The Carolina Institute Newsletter
CBS Evening News Dr. Joe Piven, Director of the Carolina Institute, discusses Autism on the CBS Evening News

Congratulations to Dr. Anne Taylor, she was selected as a 2013 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow.  A link to the Sloan site showing the 2013 winners and further links to background and history of this very prestigious recognition follows:

February 22, 2013

Congratulations to Drs. Ben Philpot, Bryan Roth, and Terry Magnuson, who were awarded $2.2 million by The Rett Syndrome Research Trust to attempt reversing the course of Rett syndrome by a gene unsilencing approach.  There is no mystery about why a girl suffers from Rett syndrome – the disorder is due to mutations in the MECP2 gene.  Because MECP2 is on the X chromosome and all females have two X’s, each active mutated gene rests beside a healthy but silenced twin.  This biology suggests that a small molecule activation of the silenced MECP2 gene might prove therapeutic for Rett syndrome.

A recent paper by CIDD investigators Philpot, Roth, and Zylka published in Nature describes successful reactivation of the silenced gene in Angelman syndrome, demonstrating that gene unsilencing is possible.

To read more please click the link below.


February 15, 2013
The Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF) has awarded the Joseph E. Wagstaff Postdoctoral Fellowship to Angela Mabb, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. This prestigious two-year award will fund promising Angelman syndrome research and will allow continued investigation into a potential treatment for AS. The research Dr. Mabb will conduct builds upon previous ASF-funded research and further evaluates topoisomerase inhibitors for their therapeutic effectiveness for individuals with AS.
For more information about AS and the ASF, please visit
February 6, 2013

Congratulations to Becky Edmondson for being selected to serve another term as Act Early Ambassador for the state of North Carolina!


This program is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.   The primary objective of each State Ambassador is to support innovative State programs, which serve to strengthen state and community systems for early identification and intervention for children with signs of autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.


February 1, 2013
Wed, Oct 17
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
CIDD Autism Journal Club
Clare Harrop
Tue, Nov 6
12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
CIDD Investigator Forum
Richard Keefe, PhD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke University
Wed, Nov 14
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
CIDD Autism Journal Club
Helen Mao
Wed, Nov 14
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
CIDD Community Talk Series
Diana Cejas, M.D.
“Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult Healthcare: Tips for Youth with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities”
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