NIDRR's Research Program
Description of the research program of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

NIDRR's research is conducted via a network of individual research projects and centers of excellence throughout the country. Most NIDRR grantees are universities or providers of rehabilitation or related services.

NIDRR's funding categories include:

NIDRR also administers:

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Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

NIDRR's Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) conduct coordinated and integrated advanced programs of research targeted toward the production of new knowledge, which may improve rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems, alleviate or stabilize disabling conditions, or promote maximum social and economic independence for persons with disabilities. Operated in collaboration with institutions of higher education or providers of rehabilitation or other appropriate services, RRTCs serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation research. Also, they are national or regional resources for research information. These centers conduct graduate, pre-service and in-service training. The centers also disseminate and promote the utilization of research findings.

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Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) conduct programs of advanced research of an engineering or technical nature designed to apply advanced technology, scientific achievement and psychological and social knowledge to solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers. Each center is affiliated with one or more institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations. Involved at both the individual and systems levels, RERCs seek to find and evaluate the newest technologies, products, and methods that ultimately can benefit the independence of persons with disabilities and the universal design of environments for people of all ages.

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NIDRR Scholars Program

The NIDRR Scholars Program is designed to provide internship opportunities in disability and rehabilitation research for undergraduate students with disabilities. Each year, NIDRR provides funding for this program to projects and centers. The intent of the program is to enable students to gain practical experience in ongoing research, thereby preparing them for careers in disability and rehabilitation research. The duration of the internship is one semester and the students are required to work 20 hours per week.

Individuals interested in opportunities under the NIDRR Scholars Program may contact projects funded under NIDRRS' Model Systems, RRTCs or RERCs programs to learn if the project in which they are interested is participating in the program.

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Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects

The Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) program allows for projects with special emphasis on research, demonstrations, training, dissemination, utilization, and technical assistance. Projects may include combinations of these activities. True to the mission of NIDRR, these projects may develop methods, procedures and rehabilitation technology to assist in achieving the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe disabilities, or to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act.

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Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Projects

The Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program (formerly known as the Research Training Grants Program) provides rehabilitation research training for persons with clinical or other experience, who may be lacking certain formal research training. Grants are made to institutions to recruit qualified persons with doctoral or similar advanced degrees with clinical, management or basic science research experience and prepare them to conduct independent research on problems related to disability and rehabilitation. This research training may integrate disciplines, teach research methodology in the environmental or new paradigm context and promote the capacity for Disability Studies and rehabilitation science. These training programs must operate in interdisciplinary environments and provide training in rigorous scientific methods.

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Field-Initiated Projects

The Field-Initiated Projects (FIPs) are designed to encourage eligible applicants to originate valuable ideas for research and demonstrations development or knowledge dissemination activities in areas, which represent their own interests yet are directly related to the rehabilitation of people with disabilities.

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Fellowships, named for the late Mary E. Switzer, give individual researchers the opportunity to develop new ideas and gain research experience. There are two levels of fellowships: Distinguished Fellowships go to individuals of doctorate or comparable academic status, who have had seven or more years of experience relevant to rehabilitation research. Merit Fellowships are given to persons with rehabilitation research experience, but who do not meet the qualifications for Distinguished, usually because they are in earlier stages of their careers. Fellows work for one year on an independent research project of their design.

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Small Business Innovation Research

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants help support the development of new rehabilitation technology. This two-phase program takes a product from development to market readiness.

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Model Systems

NIDRR administers programs that have become world-renowned model systems of care for persons with spinal cord injuries, burns and traumatic brain injuries. The Model Systems establish innovative projects for the delivery, demonstration, and evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational, and other rehabilitation services. The work of the Model Systems begins at the point of injury and ends with successful re-entry into full community life.

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ADA Technical Assistance Projects

NIDRR administers a network of grantees to provide information, training, and technical assistance to businesses and agencies with responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ten regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs) are funded to provide information and referral, technical assistance, public awareness, and training on all aspects of the ADA. An ADA Technical Assistance coordinator assists all of the grantees with their activities.

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Last Modified: 05/14/2008