Donate Now | 50th Anniversary

Genomics Sciences Core


For 50 years, the Waisman Center has been at the forefront of research into causes, consequences, and treatments of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and neurodegenerative diseases, and in promoting the translation to basic research discoveries to clinical care applications.  The Waisman Center has made numerous ground-breaking contributions to understanding and treating IDD and neurodegenerative diseases through seamless integration of research, training/education, outreach, and clinical service.  Among these interactive components, research is the driving force to advance the core mission of the center.

Recognizing the potential of genomics in brain research, the Waisman Center has created a Functional Genomics Faculty Cluster.  The long-term goal of this cluster is to establish an effective and functional pipeline from genetic diagnosis to mechanistic discovery and patient-specific therapy.  With three tenure-track faculty members physically located at the Waisman Center, this cluster will serve as a nucleus to integrate research, clinical service, and community outreach centered around brain development and function.


To sustain and amplify our initial success in paving a path into genomics research, four urgent needs must be addressed:

  • Investment of new equipment to help adopt/develop innovative methodologies
  • Secure adequate capacity (infrastructure and personnel) to process, store, compute, manage, and share data
  • Establish more functional testing capabilities
  • Biobanking and informatics infrastructure for acquiring and storing a large number of biological specimens and the corresponding electronic health records


The successful establishment and operation of this Genomics Sciences Core at the Waisman Center will have profound impacts on the future of the center. The new core will:

  • Support currently funded and future projects both at the Waisman Center and across UW-Madison
  • Integrate rich multi-modal biochemical, molecular, stem cell, brain imaging, and behavioral data while leveraging machine learning expertise at the Waisman Center
  • Serve as a springboard to launch more groundbreaking genetics and genomics research at the Waisman Center, with the objective of enhancing outcomes for families and individuals affected by IDD

Waisman Center Research

Groundbreaking research that will transform the future of intellectual and developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases is expensive and takes many years of committed, focused efforts by teams of scientists who are prepared to take discoveries out of the research laboratory and into the lives of people.

Your Gift May Support:

  • The recruitment and support of talented scientists making innovative discoveries to advance knowledge and treatment of intellectual and developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Provision of state-of-the-art resources and all the tools necessary for scientists to advance translational research from ‘bench to bedside’

Clinical Services

The Waisman Center Clinical Services provide comprehensive clinical care and support to more than 6,700 individuals with a broad range of intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families each year. Professionals from many disciplines work together to help families of individuals diagnosed with conditions including autism, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain injury, prematurity, and rare genetic diseases. This clinical service requires time, compassion and expertise – care that is frequently expensive, inadequately insured and often underfunded.

Your Gift May Support:

  • Expanded clinical services and programs for the many families that seek our help.
  • Reduced waiting times and improved resources for clinical appointments
  • Enhanced therapeutic partnerships with families not only at times of diagnosis, but also for long-term support by consultation, referrals, education, and treatment

The Waisman Center Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fund

The Waisman Center is working on ways to increase outreach and access to information, resources, research, clinical services, and supports for underrepresented and marginalized communities with an emphasis on the Spanish-speaking community and African American/Black community.

Your Gift May Support:

  • Summer training program for undergraduate students from an underserved or marginalized population to be mentored by a Waisman Center principal investigator
  • Monthly programming on La Movida, a Spanish-language radio station
  • Community connectors who help gather information on areas of greatest need, possible barriers, and best practices to connect our center with individuals in need within the community
  • Interpretation services