Research Overview & Grant Opportunities

The DRDC conducts research related to the priorities of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) through research grant sub-awards to university and other academic and professional partners that utilize medical, social and basic science, and public health approaches.

Since 2013, the DRDC has posted an annual request for applications (RFAs), with new opportunities released each January. However, our funding is scheduled to conclude in September 2022, and we do not anticipate releasing any new RFAs in 2022 or beyond.  We continue to work on ongoing research projects and expect to continue to publish scientific manuscripts related to this work.  Please check our publications page to view the ongoing list.

Research Core Background and Capacity:

The Research Core of the DRDC is housed at the University of South Carolina (USC) under the direction of Suzanne McDermott, PhD, Professor.  USC has excellent capacity for research infrastructure in its schools of Public Health, Medicine, Law, and Business, and in its colleges of Nursing, Social Work, Pharmacy, Arts and Sciences, Mass Communication and Information Studies, and Engineering and Computing.

Potential Research Topics

The following topics have been included in the NCBDDD list of potential areas for research in the past. This not a current or exhaustive list but it does represent some of the topics that may be included in future funding opportunities.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities
  • Birth Defects: Issues related to surveillance, epidemiology, and prevention of major structural birth defects
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Child Development
  • Congenital Cytomegalovirus
  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Early identification of developmental disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Developmental screening
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/ Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defects
  • Hearing Loss: newborn screening, early identification, genetic causes
  • Infections in Pregnancy
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Mobility limitations impaction on social participation for children with special health care needs
  • Muscular Dystrophies
  • Newborn bloodspot screening: metabolic, genetic conditions
  • Obesity measurement among people with disabilities
  • Pediatric genetic conditions
  • Spina bifida
  • Stillbirths
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Transition to young adults for persons with disabilities


The methodologies for research should include surveillance, risk factor identification, interventions, and health communication, translation and dissemination.  More specifically:

  1. Identification, diagnosing, surveillance and tracking:  Identify new or proven effective approaches to recognizing and tracking conditions of interest;
  2. Increasing knowledge in areas of risk factors and causal pathways:  Identify risk factors and interactions related to potential causal pathways associated with conditions of interest; and
  3. Increasing knowledge in health communication, policy translation, and dissemination:  Identify factors that improve understanding and awareness of conditions of interest.