RAIND structure

RAIND Case Statement

RAIND values your thoughts and opinions, please provide your reaction to the RAIND case statement via email to Angie Kankula kankulaa@msu.edu.



The Research in Autism, Intellectual and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (RAIND) program is a cross-college, multidisciplinary research, training, and outreach initiative at Michigan State University. Its aim is to improve the quality of life of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs) and their families across the lifespan through: 


·       The creation of new knowledge in the field of neurodevelopmental disabilities


·       The development of innovative methods in prevention, diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of neurodevelopmental disabilities


·       The education and training of the next generation of scientists and practitioners


·       The dissemination of innovations and best practices to the community


Our vision is to be recognized as a national and international leader in research, training, and outreach in neurodevelopmental disabilities that provides tangible benefits for individuals with NDDs, their families, and communities. The core values that support our vision and shape our culture within RAIND include:


·       Respecting human dignity


·       Engaging with community stakeholders in all our efforts including individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, their family members, service providers, administrators, and policy makers


·       Including diverse populations and emphasizing natural social contexts in research activities


·       Creating a scholarly environment that embraces inter-disciplinary approaches to problem solving


·       Using the best available evidence to guide research, training and practice


Need for RAIND


Neurodevelopmental disabilities affect one in six children in the United States. NDDs include autism, intellectual disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and learning disorders. These disabilities can have a significant impact on individuals and families with the lifetime cost of care for an individual as high as 3.5 million dollars. In addition, quality of life can be further affected by higher rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. As the unmet needs of individuals with NDD rise, increased research, training, and outreach are necessary to improve the lifetime outcomes of these individuals and their families. 




Michigan State University is the nation’s pioneer land-grant university and one of the leading research and teaching universities in the world. The mission of RAIND is to coordinate and support activities across MSU’s primary and satellite campuses that address the critical needs of those affected by NDDs. It emphasizes work with the potential to impact the quality of life of individuals with these disabilities and their families in a meaningful and sustainable way.


Since its launch in 2013, RAIND has attracted faculty members from across seven colleges who are contributing to this effort, including Communication Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering, Human Medicine, Music, Osteopathic Medicine, and Social Science – all with research and clinical interests in NDDs. RAIND members are currently working on multiple projects related to NDDs which are funded through competitive federal, state, and private awards. 




RAIND-affiliated faculty from across the university are engaged in cutting edge, interdisciplinary research aimed at understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of various NDDs and improving the quality of life of people affected by them. This work is being conducted in two core areas: 1) Intervention and Implementation Science; and 2) Etiology, Basic Mechanisms, and Prevention Science.


Intervention and Implementation Science


A core group of RAIND-affiliated faculty is focused on the development, dissemination, and implementation of novel psychosocial interventions for individuals with NDDs across the lifespan and for their families. Much of this work is conducted in partnership with community stakeholders to insure that interventions can be effectively implemented in diverse community settings. Some examples of current research efforts include:


      Joshua Plavnick and Matt Brodhead - Investigating implementation and scaling up of research-based early intervention practices for underserved young children with ASD


      Brooke Ingersoll - Evaluating the effectiveness of telehealth to increase access to parent-mediated interventions for families of young children with ASD in rural and other underserved communities


      Amy Drahota – Validating a toolkit to assist community-based agencies in the implementation of evidence-based practices for children with ASD


      Martin Volker - Validating intensive social interventions for school-age children with high-functioning ASD


      Marisa Fisher - Designing interventions to decrease vulnerability to victimization among youth with IDD


      Connie Sung - Validating school-to-work transition curricula for young adults with IDD 


We will expand Intervention and Implementation Science research to become the leading expert in community engaged research in ASD intervention science.

Etiology, Basic Mechanisms, and Prevention Science


A growing group of RAIND-affiliated faculty is focused on identifying and understanding the roles of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental risk factors in the pathogenesis of NDDs.  Researchers emphasize basic biomedical and epidemiological science to facilitate the development of improved and targeted interventions to prevent, ameliorate, and treat these conditions. Some examples of current research efforts include: 


·       Lee Cox –Understanding the cellular, molecular, and behavioral alterations associated with Fragile X Syndrome


·       Daniel Vogt – Understanding the effects of genetic mutations associated with autism on neuronal development


·       Nigel Paneth – Exploring the antenatal origins of autistic symptomatology, cognitive delays and cerebral palsy


·       Jean Kerver – Examining the role of maternal iodine nutrition and child cognitive outcomes


·       Nicole Talge – Using neonatal auditory brainstem response to characterize heritable risk for ASD 


We are expanding Etiology, Basic Mechanisms, and Prevention Science research. These efforts will synergize with major expansions in Precision Medicine at MSU, including new positions in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development (e.g., in genomics and epigenetics) and new positions in Obstetrics and Gynecology (e.g., placental factors affecting fetal brain development). 




In addition to conducting cutting edge research, the RAIND-affiliated faculty seek to prepare the next generation of scholars and service providers to address NDDs. RAIND offers interdisciplinary research and clinical training for undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, as well as post-doctoral scholars, across multiple colleges. Students at MSU have opportunities to complete intensive fieldwork internships and research assistantships at the RAIND intervention group’s core sites. Students work directly with faculty experts in psychology, behavior analysis, rehabilitation counseling, education, family studies, communication disorders, and human medicine. The intensity and diversity of training experiences at MSU, for students at all levels, will prepare MSU students for roles as leaders in research and service delivery. Examples of these training experiences include:


      The MI-LEND Program: A consortium of six Michigan universities led by MSU and Wayne State University that provides leadership education to graduate and medical students to help them meet the complex needs of infants, children, and adolescents with NDDs


      Graduate training in applied behavior analysis: Students receive training and supervision in applied behavior analysis at community-based intervention sites for individuals with NDDs as part of a University-community partnership


      Autism specialty training clinic for doctoral-level students in clinical and school psychology


      International Post-Doctoral Fellows Program: Post-doctoral fellows receive specialized research training in NDDs through the international post-doctoral training experiences sponsored by MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Program and EU Marie Curie ASSISTID Post-Doctoral Fellows Program




MSU’s RAIND initiative is highly committed to improving the quality of care for individuals with NDDs and their families through the dissemination of cutting-edge research-based intervention and assessment practices. Clinical experts, researchers, and Extension specialists at MSU work together with community partners to deliver high quality services through various clinical and training activities. RAIND-affiliated faculty at MSU actively work to translate research findings to the community through dissemination efforts including professional development for current service providers and educating families of individuals with NDDs. These partnerships strengthen the real-life impact of all RAIND activities. Examples of these community-partnered outreach services include: 


      MSU’s Approved Autism Evaluation Center (AAEC), in collaboration with the Clinton/Eaton/Ingham Community Mental Health at Wardcliff Abilities Center, is one of two AAEC’s in Mid-Michigan. The AAEC provides comprehensive half-day clinical and diagnostic evaluations with follow-up appointments where families meet with a social worker to review the comprehensive report and plan for accessing resources.


      The MSU Early Learning Institute provides a novel model of early intervention for low income families that combines intensive behavioral therapy with inclusive social learning opportunities. This collaborative project with the Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Community Mental Health Department brings the gold-standard in autism treatment to children and families most in need of effective services.


      Spartan Project SEARCH is a multi-partner program involving MSU, Ingham Intermediate School District, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Community Mental Health, and a private community-based rehabilitation center (Peckham, Inc.) for improving transition outcomes and quality of life of young adults with NDDs. This program is designed to provide students with NDDs with a year of work experience at the MSU campus through participation in three internship rotations.


 RAIND-affiliated faculty will connect with expanding clinical programs in neurodevelopmental disabilities and pediatric neurosciences at Michigan State University campuses in Lansing, Flint, and Grand Rapids, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and our health system partners. 


Moving Forward


RAIND has been identified by the president of MSU as a key initiative and to this end, participating colleges are recruiting over 20 early career faculty with expertise in NDDs. In addition, MSU is providing basic operational support for RAIND and seed funding for interdisciplinary research projects to facilitate successful competition for external grant funding. To achieve our vision of being recognized as a national and international leader in NDDs, RAIND will develop strong support from a combination of external research grants, University funds, State and service contracts, and philanthropy.