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54th Gatlinburg Conference 2021

April 5-8, 2021

Gatlinburg Icon - child with brain and links and energy


KU Life Span Institute       Baylor College of Medicine logo

Why attend the Gatlinburg Conference?

The Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is one of the premier conferences for behavioral scientists conducting research in intellectual and developmental disabilities.  It has a rich history that started in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 1967, and the name of its original location remained.  Each year, Gatlinburg Conference brings together researchers and scientists from across the country and the world gather to discuss research and collaborations in the field.

Years of Gatlinburg Conferences
Poster Sessions
Cups of Coffee
Child stacking blocks with teacher

Theme: Interventions and Clinical Treatments for Intellectual Disabilities

Welcome to the 2021 Gatlinburg Conference in its 54th year.  This year’s conference will be entirely online and will be using Hopin Conference Platform.  This conference is packed with activities and sessions
  • Two pre-conference sessions (listed below)
  • 21 symposia
  • 136 poster presentations
  • Graduate student symposia
  • Funding Updates from NIH
Full Program PDF


Pre-Conference Workshops
Maggie Koerth

Maggie Koerth

Senior Science Writer, FiveThirtyEight

Maggie Koerth is an award winning science journalist.  Her work covers diverse topics ranging from electric infrastructure to panda sex to COVID-19.

Science Communications and the Importance of Talking to Non-Scientists

Monday, April 5, 12:00-1:15 PM (CDT)

Neda Sadeghi

Neda Sadeghi, PhD

Data Scientist,
Section of Clinical and Computational Psychiatry: Comp-Ψ
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institutes of Health

Effective Data Visualization

Visualization tools are essential for data exploration and scientific discovery. In this workshop, we explore basic design principles that lead to effective visualizations. We will cover guidelines and demonstrations of these techniques that can be utilized in your own research.

Monday, April 5, 2:00-3:15 PM (CDT)

Plenary Speakers
Nancy Brady

Nancy Brady PhD

Chair, Speech-Language-Hearing Dept,
Scientist, Life Span Institute,
University of Kansas

Successes and Challenges in Treating Severe Communication Disorders

Tuesday, April 6 9:30-10:30 AM (CDT)

Elizabeth Berry-Kravis

Elizabeth M. Berry-Kravis, MD, PhD

Professor, Neurology and Pediatrics
Rush University Medical Center

Fragile X Syndrome: Supportive Treatment, Unmet Needs, and Paths to Novel Interventions and Disease-Targeted Therapies

This talk will describe clinical problems and care needs in fragile X syndrome, supportive clinical care, and efforts to create standards of care in the Fragile X Clinical and Research Consortium (FXCRC) based on information from FORWARD, the fragile X natural history database. Unmet needs and problems that limit quality of life even with optimal care will be described as well as resultant efforts to develop novel interventions and treatments targeted to the underlying disorder based on preclinical studies in FXS animal models. Problems with early clinical trials of such targeted treatments, new work to develop measures and address outcomes more relevant to FXS, and to adjust trial designs and the development process will be presented, along with some recent successes in FXS trials that reflect use of learnings from past efforts.

Wednesday, April 7, 10:40-11:40 AM (CDT)

Jessica Duis

Jessica Duis, MD

Assistant Professor, Pediatrics-Clinical Genetics and Metabolism,
University of Colorado

Road to Therapeutics from A to Z: Lessons Learned from Chromosome 15

Jessica Duis’s talk will be about the steps to therapeutics and how to set up a rare disease for clinical trials. It will focus on outcome measures, natural history, disease concept modeling, partnership for relevant translational studies.

Thursday, April 8, 10:40-11:40 (CDT)

Update from National Institutes of Health

Sujata Bardhan, PhD, Health Scientist Administrator, NICHD/NIH
Melissa Parisi, MD, PhD, Chief, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch NICHD/NIH

Thursday, April 8, 3:00-4:00 PM (CDT)

Sponsors of the 54th Annual Gatlinburg Conference

Thank you for your support

Level 5

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Level 2

Waisman Center Of Wisconsin
US Davis MIND Institute

Level 1

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill