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Research Opportunities

Important Links and Documents

Researcher Guidelines
      

Researchers

The MDSC is dedicated to ensuring that all members have information about and access to the latest research opportunities.

Through working directly with researchers and scientists, the MDSC Medical and Scientific Advisory Council selects a number of studies each year that will be made available for the MDSC members to participate in if they so choose.

Each research proposal received is carefully reviewed for content, ethics, and feasibility before forwarding the information onto our members. If approved, the MDSC will develop a study dissemination plan in partnership with the researcher. The MDSC is sensitive to the confidential nature of our membership information and at no time does the MDSC sell or share member information with researchers.

If you are seeking participants for a research project that you would like the MDSC Medical and Scientific Advisory Council to consider, you can submit the proposal that includes the full study and IRB approval to research@mdsc.org.

See this document for complete information on the kinds of research projects the MDSC has supported, the kinds of supports the MDSC can provide and detailed cost guidelines.

 

Current Opportunities for Participation in Research Studies

MGH DS Clinic Logo

Mass Eye and Ear 

 

 

 

Clinical Study of Tongue Pace Maker System (The Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator) in children ages 12 to 21 with Down Syndrome and Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This research is being conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary by Drs. Hartnick, Diercks, Keamy, Kinane, Schwartz, and Skotko. These healthcare providers are interested in providing not only the best care for patients with Down syndrome but also in promoting research to understand and find better ways to treat their medical conditions.

The team is studying new ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea in children and young adults with Down syndrome who have persistent sleep disordered breathing despite prior tonsillectomy. They will be investigating whether placement of a surgically implanted nerve stimulator, similar to a pacemaker, is safe and effective in relieving airway obstruction during sleep. This therapy has already been tested and approved for use in adults meeting specific criteria. The purpose of this notice is to inform you about the study. Participation is voluntary. Whether or not you decide to participate will have no effect on your relationship with Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and/or Massachusetts General Hospital as a patient. If you are interested in learning more about this study, and whether or not you/your child would be an appropriate candidate, please contact the research team by calling Dr. Hartnick at (617) 573-4206 or by email at Christopher_Hartnick@meei.harvard.edu.

 

 

Project TEAM Study Looking for Teens and Young Adults Ages 14 - 21 with Developmental Disabilities

Project Team (Teens making Environment and Activity Modifications) is looking for teens and young adults ages 14- 21 with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

Young people and their parents will complete questionnaires and assessments about the physical and social environment, the activities they do, and how they feel about themselves.

Questionnaires will be completed three times over four months. After the first meeting, each participant will receive a $50 gift certificate to try a new activity, like going to the movies or a restaurant. Participants will also receive gift certificates when they and their parents complete the questionnaires: $25 after the second session and $30 after the third session.

Jessica Kramer is in charge of the study at Boston University and can be contacted at kramerbulab@gmail.com, 617- 353-7522, or 617-353- 2702.

Click here for a flyer with more information.

 

MRI with Children and Adolescents diagnosed with Fragile X or Down Syndrome

The Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopment Initiative (CANDI) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is conducting a research study focused on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with children diagnosed with Fragile X or Down Syndrome.

This study is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The purpose of the study is to determine if there are ways to help children undergo MRI without needing to be sedated, and to learn more about the features of the brains of children and adolescents aged 7-17 with Fragile X or Down syndrome.

Participants in this study must be between 7 and 17 years of age, have a diagnosis of Fragile X syndrome or Down syndrome, and have a parent willing to assist with desensitization activities at home.

For more information, click here or contact ChildResearch@umassmed.edu.

 

Evaluating the “Family-Centered” Approach of Pediatric Multidisciplinary Down Syndrome Clinics: A Parent’s Perspective

 

Devon Haynes, a graduate student in the genetic counseling program at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, is conducting a research study to ascertain the level of psychosocial support offered to families of pediatric patients with Down syndrome by their health care providers.  This research study looks at parent’s perspectives on the support given to their family through their child’s pediatric health care.  The study involves taking a survey that is online and is meant to be filled out individually by either parent.

The survey contains a series of questions about your child with Down syndrome (under age 21) and the types of medical providers he/she sees on a regular basis.  The survey also asks about opinions and perspectives on the level of psychosocial/emotional support that is offered by your child’s pediatric health care providers.

All responses from the surveys will be kept anonymous and confidential.  The goal of the study is to collect information which will allow health care providers to provide more "family-centered" and psychosocial care to families affected by Down syndrome and other genetic conditions.

Click here for more information, or contact Devon directly at devon.haynes@uscmed.sc.edu.

To take the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/psdsparentperspective.


 

Project Play

Project Play seeks to evaluate all children’s play as a developmental process across the age span of 3 1/2  to 5 years, and infants and toddlers 8 to 36 months with identified delays.

Karin Lifter, Ph.D. and her research team from the Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology at Northeastern University are currently looking for families who live in the Boston metropolitan area and who have a child who is developing with a delay. Their goal is to develop a user-friendly instrument that teachers and providers can use to evaluate a child’s progress in play, and particularly for children with delays and disabilities. The ultimate goal of their instrument is to be able to evaluate children’s play for the purposes of designing interventions for them.

Click here for a flyer with more information. You can contact the Project Play team by calling (617) 373-3297 or emailing projectplay@neu.edu, or visit the Project Play website.

 

Health U - Weight Loss Study for Teens with Intellectual Disability

Health U. is a weight loss study for overweight teens and young adults ages 15-22 who have an intellectual disability. The study is funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) through the Shriver Center at UMass Medical School.  Eligible participants will take part in a program that includes weekly to biweekly group and individual sessions focusing on losing weight through healthy eating and increasing physical activity in ways that are fun and achievable. Parents receive training on supportive behavioral techniques to encourage their son/daughter to meet nutrition and physical activity goals.

Sessions are 90 minutes, highly interactive, and led by nutritionists and lifestyle coaches.

Health U. is a free and voluntary research study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) through the Shriver Center in Boston and at UMass Medical School. Qualified participants may be eligible for compensation.

For more information, please contact Judith Ellen, Research Coordinator at 774-455-6540 or email healthu@umassmed.edu.  To learn more, Click here for a brochure. 

Children's Mealtime Study Looking for Children Ages 3 - 8

The Children’s Mealtime Study, located at the E.K. Shriver Center/UMass Medical School, is looking for children with Down syndrome, Fragile X, and/or other intellectual disabilities ages 3-8 to participate in a research study on children’s eating patterns, mealtime behaviors, and parent feeding practices.

The study involves one 2-3 hour visit at a UMass Medical School-affiliated site and parents complete a 3-day food record at home.  Parents will receive up to $85 compensation in the form of a gift cards; children will receive a $15 gift card for their participation.

For more information visit http://umassmed.edu/shriver/recruit/Childrens-Mealtime.aspx, or contact Alyssa: Phone: 774-455-6521 or Email: Mealtimes@umassmed.edu.

Prenatal MRI Study of Fetuses with Down Syndrome

The Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center is conducting a fetal brain imaging study to help understand more about brain development in fetuses with Down syndrome in ongoing pregnancies.

This study uses a safe, non-invasive MRI scan to look at the fetal brain. MRI studies make high-resolution pictures of the fetal brain.

To be eligible to participate in the study, you must have received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or have had a fetal DNA test result that is strongly suspiciaous of Down syndrome.  Click here for a flier or contact Dr. Tomo Tarui at babybrain@tuftsmedicalcenter.org or 617-636-5729 for more information.

 


Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Safety of a Study Drug and the Way It Works in the Body with the Possibility of Improved Cognitive Capacities in People with Down Syndrome

Elan Research Study

Dr. Brian Skotko and his research team from the MassGeneral Hospital Down Syndrome Program are starting another study drug trial.  In this clinical trial, an investigational medicine, not yet approved for sale by the FDA, will be studied in people with Down syndrome who meet eligibility criteria.  This study drug is hoped to improve the cognitive capacities in some people with Down syndrome.

Up until now, opportunities for people with Down syndrome to participate in research have been scant, for a variety of reasons.  For the first time, study drug trials are now available to people with Down syndrome.  Enhancing the well-being of all people with Down syndrome remains the greatest aim of all of the research opportunities that we offer through the Mass General Hospital Down Syndrome Program.

There are a limited number of spots for this clinical trial, and eligible patients are screened in the order in which they contact us. 

This study is being funded by Elan, the developer of the drug in the upcoming study. The upcoming clinical trial will evaluate the safety of the study drug and how it works in the body.  The study will take place over 10 weeks and will include 5 clinic visits.

To see if your family member is eligible to take part in the study, please review the questions here: www.massgeneral.org/downsyndromeresearch

If you would like your family member to participate in this study, or if you have further questions, please contact Mary Ellen McDonough, RN, Senior Clinical research Coordinator in the MassGeneral Hospital Down Syndrome program at, 617-643-5571 or mmcdonough13@partners.org.