September 7, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Appoints Panel to Explore Integrating Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities with College of Staten Island

TOP Governor Cuomo Appoints Panel to Explore...

Panel to Convene in Fall 2017; Provide Recommendations and Findings in 2018


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the appointment of a Blue-Ribbon Panel of stakeholders to enhance collaboration between the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and the City University of New York's College of Staten Island, to include examining the feasibility of transitioning administrative oversight of IBR from the State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities to CUNY and CSI. The panel will consider solutions to ensure the sustainable success and excellence of the nation's first and New York's only research institute dedicated to studying the causes of developmental disabilities. For nearly 50 years, IBR has helped advance the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of developmental disabilities.

"This panel will explore a potential partnership that would combine individuals from academia with subject matter experts across New York to research groundbreaking ideas in the field of developmental disabilities," Governor Cuomo said. "By combining these two vital Staten Island assets, we have the opportunity to produce game-changing scientific innovations, helping to create a stronger, healthier New York for all."

Among its most influential studies are numerous advancements related to autism. IBR's integrated approach to the study of Autism combines genetic and environmental factors and by targeting genetic and metabolic pathways responsive to intervention, IBR has contributed significantly to autism's prevention and treatment. In addition, IBR also provides specialized services to individuals and their families, as well as public and professional education about developmental disabilities.

Despite its record of notable discoveries and breakthroughs, IBR, like many research institutions, has faced shrinking availability of federal funding and other grant sources. Other New York State research facilities, such as the Research Institute on Addictions and the Nathan S. Kline and New York Psychiatric Institutes, have active and fruitful affiliations with colleges and universities. CUNY's College of Staten Island, located adjacent to IBR, provides, among its other course offerings, graduate-level study of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

OPWDD Acting Commissioner Kerry A. Delaney said, "Exploring the possible alignment of IBR with the College of Staten Island makes sense on a number of levels -- from their co-location to their shared scope of focus and study, to a foundation of collaborative research. IBR is renowned in the I/DD community -- not just in New York but across the nation and beyond - for its leadership in advancing the understanding of developmental disabilities, their causes, treatment and prevention. Governor Cuomo has assembled a panel with broad, relevant expertise; I look forward to working with them to design a partnership that will help secure a productive and sustainable future for each of these renowned institutions."

College of Staten Island President Dr. William J. Fritz said "The College of Staten Island is committed to borough stewardship and is gratified to work with Governor Cuomo's Blue Ribbon Panel to explore transitioning the Institute for Basic Research from the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities to the City University of New York's College of Staten Island. There has been a long-standing relationship between scientists and staff at IBR and CSI faculty in the Neurosciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physical Therapy, Psychology), involving joint publications and federal grants, collaborative research, and supervision of masters and doctoral students. As custodians of the Willowbrook legacy, we embrace the lessons of the past and welcome this great opportunity to expand cutting edge research on understanding developmental disabilities. CSI looks forward to working with Acting Commissioner Delaney and the entire committee in supporting the efforts to solidify this plan."

Senator Andrew Lanza said, "I am honored to have been appointed to Governor Cuomo's Blue Ribbon Panel and look forward to exploring the collaboration between the Institute for Basic Research and the College of Staten Island. IBR is a one of a kind research establishment specifically designed to study and evaluate the cause of developmental disabilities including autism and down syndrome. The services provided by IBR are vital to Staten Island and the research benefits extend across the country. I'm confident that joining these two great Staten Island institutions will lead to better outcomes and improve the quality of life of children and adults living with disabilities and their families. I thank Governor Cuomo for heeding our call to join IBR with CSI when others refused. This union will put IBR on its firmest footing in decades and enhance its mission as a first-rate research college. I especially look forward to working with the Governor, Assemblyman Mike Cusick and CSI President Dr. William Fritz on this mission."

Assemblymember Michael Cusick said, "A possible merger is something that should be examined based on the history of Willowbrook. Going forward, it is important to keep the mission and integrity of this world renowned and historical institute paramount. In order for the IBR to have continued success, it needs to be supported with proper funding and capable minds. I am honored to be a part of this Blue-Ribbon Panel and look forward to examining ways in which these two outstanding organizations can benefit each other."

The 23-member panel is comprised of leaders in the following areas: intellectual and developmental disabilities field; research; labor relations; academia, including CUNY and College of Staten Island; and state government, including local members of the state legislature. The members are listed below:

  • Kerry A. Delaney, Acting Commissioner, NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and Panel Co-Chair
  • William J. Fritz, Ph.D., President, College of Staten Island and Panel Co-Chair
  • Hon. Michael J. Cusick, Assemblyman, 63rd Assembly District
  • Hon. Andrew J. Lanza, Senator, 24th Senate District
  • Ken Iwama, Esq., Vice President for Economic Development, Continuing Studies and Government Relations, College of Staten Island
  • Dan McCloskey, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology, College of Staten Island
  • Maria Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Life Sciences, Empire State Development
  • Joseph J. Maturi, Acting Director, Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
  • Christine D. Cea, Vice-Chair, Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council; Member, NYS Board of Regents; Researcher, IBR
  • Karen B. Amble, LMSW, Director, Clinical Services, George A. Jervis Clinic, IBR
  • Milen T. Velinov, M.D., Ph.D., Director, George A. Jervis Clinic; Head of the Molecular Cytogenetics Laboratory, Department of Human Genetics; Head of Specialty Clinical Laboratories, IBR
  • Jeffrey Goodman, Ph.D., Head of Electrophysiology Laboratory, Department of Developmental Neurobiology, IBR
  • Anne Gordon, M.S. Ed., Head of Early Intervention Evaluation Center, Department of Infant Development, IBR
  • Michael Volforte, Director, Governor's Office of Employee Relations
  • Louis Raffaele, Chief Budget Examiner, New York State Division of Budget
  • Charles Roland, Psychiatric Social Worker, South Beach Psychiatric Center, Public Employees Federation Representative
  • Kathleen Nowak, Parent
  • Hal Kennedy, Parent and Member, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene
  • Edward Nunes, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center; NYS Psychiatric Institute
  • Donald Goff, M.D., Director, Nathan Kline Institute; Chair, Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., Director, NYS Psychiatric Institute
  • Vita C. Rabinowitz, Executive Vice Chancellor, City University of New York
  • Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., Member, Board of Trustees, City University of New York; CEO & Director, Scientific Affairs, Cancer Research Institute

The panel will identify and examine potential synergies and mutual benefits to be achieved through the possible affiliation with CUNY College of Staten Island and propose solutions to any obstacles. It will convene in the fall of 2017, co-chaired by OPWDD Acting Commissioner, Kerry A. Delaney and College of Staten Island President, Dr. William J. Fritz. The panel will be charged with issuing its recommendations and findings in 2018.


Established by the New York State Legislature, the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities opened in 1968 and is the research arm of the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. IBR's research teams in 36 laboratories are dedicated to conducting basic and clinical studies of the causes, treatment and prevention of developmental disabilities, including autism, fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome. Discoveries made in the Institute's laboratories help save lives and improve the quality of life of people who have developmental disabilities, from premature infants to the elderly.

Since 1980, IBR's George A. Jervis Clinic has offered specialized diagnostic and consultative services for children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities. The Clinic's multidisciplinary team of physicians, psychologists, nurses, and social workers diagnose and establish treatment plans for conditions that primary care physicians have been unable to diagnose or treat. Staff also conduct clinical research and provide education in improving diagnosis and treatment of developmental disabilities.

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