The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at UNC
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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.

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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, 2014 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.

Application deadline is January 31, 2014. For additional information, please email UNC is an Equal Opportunity/ADA employer.
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 »

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 »
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University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
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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
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