VTCRI Director Michael Friedlander delivers keynote for NIH conference on developmental disabilities

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI) Executive Director Michael Friedlander presented the keynote address at the second National Institute of Health (NIH) sponsored Interdisciplinary Training Conference on Developmental Disabilities in San Antonio, Texas March 1.

Friedlander's lecture, titled “Re-calibrating cortical synapses throughout the lifespan and after brain injury," addressed the capacity for chemical communication sites in the brain's cerebral cortex to alter their efficiency of communication and the functional elaboration of information processing networks in response to training during early stages of life and after damage to the brain later in life.

The interdisciplinary conference is designed to foster interdisciplinary approaches to disabilities research in the next generation of scientists. The program is attended by selected graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from behavioral science and neuroscience training programs from across the US.

The conference included presentations by NIH staff and senior scholars whose research into areas of brain and behavioral development exemplifies interdisciplinarity.

Support for the conference was provided by an NIH training grant led by Children’s National Medical Center Director Vittorio Gallo, who is also Wolf-Pack Chair in Neuroscience at the Center for Neuroscience Research and professor of pediatrics, pharmacology and physiology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington DC. Also leading the conference was Len Abbeduto, associate director for behavioral sciences and director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities of the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The NIH sponsored event was held in conjunction with the 44th annual Gatlinburg Conference on Developmental Disabilities in San Antonio, Texas. The Gatlinburg Conference originated in Gatlinburg, Tenn. in 1967 and has consistently attracted the nation's leading researchers and clinicians who work in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities. This year's theme of the Gatlinburg Conference was “Adolescence and Developmental Disabilities: From Neurobiology to Interventions.”