$2.8 million grant allows Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University to continue its mission

July 19, 2017

DETROIT — Michigan residents with developmental and intellectual disabilities, along with their families, can look forward to five more years of service from the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute (MI-DDI) at Wayne State University.

MI-DDI has been awarded a $2.8 million grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living to develop and advance the transfer of research and knowledge in the disability field from the university setting to communities across Michigan, the nation and the world.

This funding federally designates the institute as Michigan’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). Such centers were created in 1963 with the enactment of Public Law 88-164 to serve people with intellectual disabilities through advocacy, capacity building and systemic change efforts. MI-DDI is one of 67 UCEDDs nationwide and in U.S. territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

MI-DDI began in the 1960s at the University of Michigan and moved to WSU in 1983. Every five years, the institute must reapply for its core funding, which it then leverages to secure other funding sources to support programs in areas such as health, education, employment and community living that serve people with disabilities from birth through retirement age. MI-DDI reports to the Office of the Provost at Wayne State University.

“We’re delighted to receive this funding to continue to support Michigan’s families and children with disabilities,” said Sharon Milberger, Sc.D., MI-DDI director. “We’re very excited to continue to be part of Wayne State.”

As a result of this grant, MI-DDI will continue its mission of contributing to the development of inclusive communities and quality of life for people with disabilities and their families through a culturally sensitive, statewide program of interdisciplinary education, community support and services, research, and dissemination of knowledge and information to, and about, Michigan’s disability community.

Developmental disabilities are defined federally as occurring before age 22 and having lifelong implications. The core grant supports a big-picture plan, which identifies topics of community-based research to be addressed, using input from statewide survey results and taking into consideration actions by the governor or state task forces.

The institute also trains emerging professionals of all disciplines on campus who may have an interest in disability, including social workers, journalists, doctors, psychologists, teachers, and occupational and physical therapists.

MI-DDI is also home to Michigan’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program, which is a consortium of six Michigan universities. The MI-LEND program trains interdisciplinary graduate-level trainees with the goal of improving the health of infants, children and adolescents with or at risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities and other related health care needs. 

“We are always working on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families to provide the best opportunities for them to live their lives to the fullest,” Milberger said. “We try to take key areas of interest for people with disabilities and make them into something useful for the whole community.”

The award number for this Administration for Community Living grant is 90DDUC0005-01.

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit