MSU and Neurodevelopmental Disability Research

The MSU Center for Research in Autism, Intellectual and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities has a long and productive history with the DOCTRID (Daughters Of Charity – Technology, Research Into Disability) program.

DOCTRID was established under RESPECT (an Irish registered charity responsible for fundraising projects to assist people with intellectual disabilities) and the Daughters of Charity (DoC) Board. It encompasses the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services, all Irish accredited universities, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Institute of Technology, Tralee (ITT) and two U.S. universities - Michigan State University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

One of DOCTRID’s programs, ASSISTID (Assistive Technologies for People with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism) administers the Marie Curie COFUND project. With $12.1 million (8.9 million euro) provided by the European Union and the Irish charity RESPECT (also operated by the Daughters of Charity), ASSISTID will support 40 post-doctoral fellows worldwide, in two waves of 20 until 2019.

At MSU we have two distinct, but highly related and integrated research initiatives that are comprehensively addressing the needs of individuals who have autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. These are: (1) the DOCTRID Research Institute, which includes the MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Program and the EU Marie Curie ASSISTID COFUND Program; and, (2) the newly established interdisciplinary program of Research in Autism, Intellectual and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (RAIND).

Postdoctoral researchers are highly valued at MSU, and contribute greatly to the research mission of the university while gaining additional experience and mentoring as independent researchers for the next stage of their career development process. At MSU, in addition to senior research faculty mentors, post doctoral researcher have an array of resources that have been designed to provide them with a highly supportive and stimulating collegial environment. For example, the MSU Office of Postdoctoral Training and the Postdoctoral Research Association will be a significant asset to candidates who have received appointments and are designing their postdoctoral Individual Development Plans (IDP).

In addition, the MSU Center for Academic and Future Faculty Excellence (CAFFE) provides an array of professional development courses, and the Office of International Studies and Programs will be particularly important for ASSISTID outgoing postdoctoral fellows in terms of resources and assistance. MSU also possesses a vast array of research resources that will enable the high-quality implementation and completion of MSU-DOCTRID and ASSISTID projects. These additional resources include, but are not limited to, the Center for Statistical Analysis & Training (CSTAT), Office of Research Facilitation and Dissemination, Graduate School Professional Development Workshops, Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop Series, and a Carnegie Research I research library that contains over four million volumes and is fully accessible via the Internet.

The MSU-DOCTRID International Research Institute

The DOCTRID International Research Institute and their university partners are committed to a collaborative, international, interdisciplinary research model, designed to carry out ongoing research and empirical studies that will inform policy and practice and identify new evidence-based practices, including the impact of technology, that can be effective in the delivery of services to individuals with autism and significant intellectual disabilities.

DOCTRID was established as a research program under RESPECT and Daughters of Charity (DoC) Board and encompasses the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services, all of the universities on the island of Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Institute of Technology,

Tralee (ITT) and two U.S. universities CC Michigan State University (MSU), and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It should be noted that MSU was the founding university member of DOCTRID when it was established in 2010.

MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Program

This program is designed to serve as a center of international research excellence in providing empirical research to help inform policy and practice in the area of intellectual disability and autism across the age continuum. In 2012, we received initial funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Office of the Provost, and the College of Education at MSU. The funding from MSU is being used to fund three interdisciplinary postdoctoral research associates (MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Program) who officially began their appointments with MSU in July of 2013, and are housed within the College of Education in the Office of Rehabilitation and Disability Studies.

These Hegarty Fellows are co-located at both MSU and a selected Irish partner university during their two-year research appointments with MSU-DOCTRID. In the fall of 2013, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon traveled to Ireland for the DOCTRID conference and announced that MSU plans to extend the Hegarty Fellows Program for an additional three years through 2019. This extraordinary level of support by the MSU President will mean that MSU-DOCTRID will be able to fund nine Hegarty Fellows over the next six years to work with DOCTRID. The generous support from MSU and RESPECT in funding international research fellows will make important, meaningful and sustainable impact on the quality of life or people with intellectual disabilities and autism on a global basis.

EU Marie Curie ASSISTID COFUND Program

DOCTRID was awarded funding for a large grant from the Marie Currie EU COFUND on Assistive Technologies for Individuals with Autism and Intellectual Disability that will provide funding for 40 additional postdoctoral researchers for the partner universities in DOCTRID. At MSU, we anticipate we will have multiple Marie Currie COFUND postdoctoral researchers appointed during each of the two waves of recruitment and selection for the five-year grant, with the first group beginning their two-year appointments with us in the spring of 2015.

Candidates for these appointments will not only have access to MSU-DOCTRID, in terms of faculty mentors, Hegarty Fellows and resources developed for that program, but also within the larger scholarly community at MSU through the RAIND Center.