UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
The purpose of this request is for an administrative supplement to complete an ongoing process that is aimed at developing a Portable Instrument Evaluation Service (PIES) that will be made available to all IDDRC investigators at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The ARRA funding will be combined with other funding from HRSAto acquire an configure a commercial van-based mobile laboratory. The aim is to make entirely portable the current facilities available through the IDDRC Clinical and Translational Research Support core unit. Whereas many of our research protocols can be implemented with only tabletop or laptop computer methodologies, a number of them require laboratory equipment that is currently housed only in fixed sites associated with the IDDRC. Such equipment includes that necessary for collection of certain biological samples, electrophysiological testing, eyetracking, and passive audiological assessment - all of which are currently required in funded NICHD/NIH research projects that are served by the P30 grant. We propose to extend the capabilities of the IDDRC Clinical and translational Research Support core via creation of a mobile laboratory that would allow IDDRC clinical and translational researchers to collect data at sites that are geographically remote or otherwise practically inaccessible.Much of the research we conduct is on relatively low-incidence populations - individuals with Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, congenital deafness, and those with even lower incidence disorders associated participant pool of sufficient size to achieve acceptable power in our statistical analyses. Traditionally this would mean that some participants would have to be transported 50 miles or more and spend an entire day in order to participate in our studies. This burden is a significant barrier in our ability to recruit participants outside the greater Boston and Worcester areas involved in our IDDRC programs. Portability of our methodologies would alleviate this problem in many respects. In addition, a mobile laboratory would also allow us to collect high numbers of data sets in short amounts of time, at schools, camps, etc. Scheduling research participants requires balancing laboratory appointments and busy family schedules. By contrast, setting up a mobile laboratory at schools or camps would allow us to schedule research sessions back-to-back to a greater degree than is now feasible such that a larger number of data sets could be collected within a shorter time span. An especially important benefit of the PIES will be to allow us greater access to low SES and minority populations that are difficult or impossible to include in current studies that require transporting human participants to UMMS research sites. Whereas recruiting of certain school-based or local community populations is a routine matter that we now do well, outreach to remote and/or financially disadvantaged populations is a challenge that is not unique to our program. The supplemental funding requested in this application will give us the material resources needed to conduct an unusually intensive outreach to these underserved populations.