Current Environment:

Research Studies | Overview

The clinicians, researchers, and staff of the DM-CRL work on studies related to neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). We are committed to helping every child reach their full potential. Our current research studies include interventional studies/clinical trials (testing a new medicine or therapy) and observational studies (learning more about a diagnosis). Some studies can be done online or over the phone, and some require a visit to Boston Children's Hospital. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the study team at the email address listed.

No current studies in your diagnosis area? Join our participant registry!

DM-CRL studies currently recruiting new participants, by diagnosis:

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
COVID Caregiver Stressors Study

PI: Jason Fogler PhD, Nicole Melita

Study description:
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, adults caring for young children are now faced with a range of new challenges. As a caregiver of a child that is cared for at Boston Children’s Hospital, we are interested in learning more about your experiences of stress and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to do that, we are looking for caregivers that are interested in completing a series of online questionnaires regarding their experiences.

Contact: Nicole.Melita@childrens.harvard.edu

Doan Study

PI: Ryan Doan PhD, Elizabeth Harstad, MD MPH

Study description:
The Doan Lab is studying the genetics of ADHD with the hopes of finding new ways to diagnose and treat this disorder. Participation in this study involves sample collection in the form of saliva, blood or a cheek swab and a family medical history questionnaire.

Contact: DoanLab@childrens.harvard.edu

RHINO Study

The RHINO Study aims to learn more about how brain activity relates to ADHD symptoms. The Arnett Lab is recruiting children ages 2.5 to 4 who do or do not have a family member with ADHD, and children ages 7-11 with or without ADHD. To participate, a caregiver completes a short screening call, a remote interview, and online surveys. Your child will also complete EEG and cognitive/academic testing at our lab. Families receive these results, transportation reimbursement, and compensation. Contact us at ArnettLab@childrens.harvard.edu or 617-919-7771 if you are interested! Learn more about Arnett Lab here.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
CHD-ASD Study

The goal of the CHD-ASD sequencing study is to find genetic factors that cause autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and congenital heart disease (CHD). This study is open to BCH patients diagnosed with autism and born with a heart defect which required an intervention before the age of five years. If eligible, you will be scheduled for a 1-hour research visit, which will include a review your child’s medical and family history. Next, a cheek swab or blood sample will be collected from your child and, if available, one or both of their biological parents for genetic testing. If you are interested in this study and would like to reach out to the research team directly, please contact zoe.frazier@childrens.harvard.edu.

SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research and Knowledge)

PI: Lisa Prock, MD MPH

Study description:
SPARK is an online study aiming to speed up autism research and provide genetic results back to families, if there is a significant result. It's open to anyone with a diagnosis of autism, along with their immediate family members and consists of completing an online registration and a saliva sample kit which is mailed to your home.

Contact: SPARK@childrens.harvard.edu

COVID Caregiver Stressors Study

PI: Jason Fogler PhD, Nicole Melita

Study description:
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, adults caring for young children are now faced with a range of new challenges. As a caregiver of a child that is cared for at Boston Children’s Hospital, we are interested in learning more about your experiences of stress and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to do that, we are looking for caregivers that are interested in completing a series of online questionnaires regarding their experiences.

Contact: Nicole.Melita@childrens.harvard.edu

IDEA

Study description:
The goal of the IDEA study is to learn how children with autism or other developmental delays think while working towards goals, learning new things, or controlling their behavior. If eligible, your child’s cognitive and social development would be followed for three years. Each year of the study, you would come for 3 visits to the lab. Your child would play problem-solving games and wear a special EEG hat to find out how their brain is working. Each year you will get a written clinical report with information about your child’s development.

Contact: ideastudy@childrens.harvard.edu

BRIDGE Study

The goal of the BRIDGE study is to investigate how differences in brain activity affect learning, language, and behavior in boys between 2 and 5 years old with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fragile X Syndrome, and Down syndrome. The study involves 2 visits, spaced 1 year apart, at Boston Children’s Hospital Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience. Each visit includes clinical and behavioral assessments that will evaluate your child’s thinking, motor skills, language skills, and social communication. In addition, we will measure your child’s brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). Families will receive a small payment and a written report about their child’s development after each visit.
Contact: bridgestudy@childrens.harvard.edu

Down Syndrome
Please visit the Down Syndrome Program website for information on current studies.
Fragile X Syndrome

The Bridge Study

The goal of the BRIDGE study is to investigate how differences in brain activity affect learning, language, and behavior in boys between 2 and 5 years old with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fragile X Syndrome, and Down syndrome. The study involves 2 visits, spaced 1 year apart, at Boston Children’s Hospital Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience. Each visit includes clinical and behavioral assessments that will evaluate your child’s thinking, motor skills, language skills, and social communication. In addition, we will measure your child’s brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). Families will receive a small payment and a written report about their child’s development after each visit.

Contact: bridgestudy@childrens.harvard.edu

Substance Use ASAP
Please visit the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program website for information on current studies.
Other Areas of Research
Ongoing studies (not currently recruiting participants)

Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are listed above by area of study, and are also available here.

Quality Improvement Efforts through our Developmental Medicine Program for Clinical Innovation
  • Response to COVID-19: Improving the Experience of Telediagnostic Evaluations for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): The sudden transition to telemedicine raised significant concerns about our ability to diagnose ASD using this technology, as well as potentially widening disparities in care for families who require interpreters or who have limited access to technology. However, this also offered us the opportunity to assess and improve caregiver and clinician experience with telemedicine ASD evaluations and determine which families may be best suited for telediagnostic assessments. This has implications for access to ASD evaluations even after the pandemic.
  • Standardizing the Autism Spectrum Center (ASC) Intake process: Our team conducted a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt project to improve a complex, cross-departmental intake process that often leads to family frustration and staff distress. We successfully developed a culture of collaboration among intake staff to redesign the intake process, resulting in a standard workflow with scripts, forms, clear communication channels, and a unified triage meeting.
  • Complex ADHD Clinical Pathway: We have led our field in developing treatment pathways for Complex ADHD since 2012. Our algorithms are the model for the recently published Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP) Complex ADHD guideline (February 2020). This year, we added to the pathway algorithms for ADHD with co-morbid Substance Use Disorder, ASD, and Trauma and Stressor-related Disorder.