Modern glass and stone building

About the Center

Pursuing progress in research, assistive technologies, education and training.
Modern glass and stone building

The Alana Down Syndrome Center aims to deepen knowledge about Down syndrome and to improve health, autonomy and inclusion of people with this genetic condition.

The Alana Center is multi-disciplinary, spanning labs and programs across MIT, and engages the expertise of scientists and engineers in a research effort to increase understanding of the biology and neuroscience of Down syndrome.

The greater mission is to produce research and technology to give people with disabilities the possibility of developing greater social and practical skills, in order to enhance their participation in the educational system, in the workforce, and in community life.

The Alana Down Syndrome Center launched March 20, 2019.

The Alana Down Syndrome Center pursues progress in three main ways:

Research

Research in the Center investigates mechanisms and potential therapeutic interventions in two main areas: brain circuits and systems, and cellular mechanisms and genetic variation. With these approaches, the team strives to improve understanding of why individuals with Down syndrome experience functional differences and the best ways to address them.

Technology to Improve Ability

In a program called “Technology to Improve Ability,” in partnership with the Deshpande Center at MIT, creative minds across MIT will be encouraged and supported in designing and developing technologies that can improve life for people with different intellectual abilities or other challenges.

Education and Training 

Through postdoctoral and graduate fellowship programs, the center also builds a pipeline of talent to increase the number of young scientists who are enthusiastic about and skilled in Down syndrome research. Trained in the center’s labs with advanced and innovative techniques, this class of fellows, as well as undergraduate students who join these projects, have the potential to amplify the center’s discoveries throughout their careers, for the benefit of people with Down syndrome and their families.

Dr Tsai, an Asian woman with straight black hair, and postdoctoral fellow Dr Meharena, a black man.
Alana Center Co-Director Dr. Li-Huei Tsai and Alana Fellow Dr. Hiruy Meharena

About the Alana Foundation

Alana is a socio-environmental impact organization, based in Brazil, that promotes children’s rights to integral development and fosters new forms of well-being. It is organized into three branches: the Alana Institute, the AlanaLab, and the Alana Foundation.

The Alana USA Foundation is a philanthropic organization founded in 2012 in the United States. The Foundation invests in research in the areas of health, inclusive education and the environment. It also fosters global movements such as Believe. Earth and identifies opportunities for partnerships and co-investment for Alana.

Watch Alana Foundation President Ana Lucia Villela’s remarks at the March 20th launch below.