Institute for the Developing Mind

The Institute for the Developing Mind (IDM) capitalizes on the unique strengths of Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and The Saban Research Institute, as well as its close partnership with the University of Southern California and Keck School of Medicine, to house a world-class collaborative research environment that is dedicated to multi-disciplinary team science and comprehensive clinical care. The IDM fosters the integrated collaboration of basic scientists, clinical researchers, and clinicians to address shared research questions and speed scientific discovery. We bring these new methods and tools for scientific discovery into innovative clinical environments to promote more effective prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in children.

The IDM’s ultimate goal is to improve the health outcomes and well-being of children who suffer from mental, emotional, and behavioral problems by:

  • Becoming the leading source of discoveries of human brain and behavioral development that influence health and illness.
  • Driving development of novel diagnostic techniques and treatments.
  • Accelerating clinical translation, deliver comprehensive coordinated care.
  • Educating the next generation of leaders in pediatrics and mental health in the best practices that incorporate new research findings into state-of-the-art clinical care; and transcending disciplines and institutions to provide future leaders with rich clinical experiences that foster transformative, interdisciplinary clinical research.
  • Serving as a regional resource for social support and education for children and their families who are challenged by mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, and providing them with accountable care. 
  • Identifying how early brain development influences illness progression from childhood into adulthood.

CHLA is an ideal setting for the work of the IDM. As the largest child health care setting in Los Angeles, it is home to a multinational population of patients who have extraordinarily diverse genetic, environmental, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and equally diverse medical illnesses. Our clinical programs are among the largest in the country and include many children who suffer the adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with medical illnesses such as premature birth, infection, early hypoxia or hypotension, trauma, genetic disorders, and the chemotherapy and brain irradiation used to treat childhood cancer.


Bradley S. Peterson, MD, the inaugural director of the Institute for the Developing Mind, joined Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in July 2014 after 13 years at Columbia University, where he served as the director of the Center for Developmental Neuropsychiatry. Before that, he spent 12 years at Yale University, where he served as Director of Neuroimaging at the Yale Child Study Center.

Peterson’s vast experience as a scientist, physician, teacher and mentor provides the Institute with the transformative leadership necessary to establish a comprehensive program of interdisciplinary research, education, training and clinical services for childhood neurodevelopmental problems at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  His research has used brain-imaging technologies to understand the origins of neurodevelopmental disorders, and to map the complex pathways between the genetic and environmental influences that can trigger their onset or progression. A physician in the Division of Research on Children, Youth and Families within the Department of Pediatrics at CHLA, Peterson also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), where he is director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


    The Institute for the Developing Mind provides an integrated, interdisciplinary environment for applying these and other advances to the understanding and treatment of brain disorders. Our areas of focus are: Neuroimaging, Developmental Neurogenetics and Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience

    Our institution is the largest child health care setting in a Los Angeles that is home to a multinational population of patients with diversity of medical conditions, genetics, environment and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our clinical programs are among the largest in the country and include many children with neurodevelopmental abnormalities related to prematurity, infection, early hypoxia or hypotension, trauma, genetic disorders, chemotherapy and brain irradiation for childhood cancer.

    Current Program Efforts

    The IDM’s current initiatives include:

    • The Autism Treatment Network and Boone Fetter Clinic – A model clinical program offering interdisciplinary diagnostic assessments and comprehensive services to children who may have autism, neurodevelopmental or behavioral disorders.
    • The Developmental Neuroscience Program at The Saban Research Institute – Led by Richard Simerly, PhD, the program is composed of scientists engaged in basic developmental neurobiological research directed toward identifying fundamental mechanisms of brain development.
    • The Saban Research Institute Annual Symposium – Each year this event focuses on an area with significant impact on pediatric health and well-being.  The 2012 Symposium was dedicated to The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease: The Developing Mind.  This day-long program featured lectures on basic and translational research into neurobehavioral diseases from renowned scientists and clinical experts.  
    • Gifts and Endowments – Continued outreach and pursuit of gifts and endowment funding will support IDM’s short- and long-term program objectives. 

    Collaborations and Partnerships

    The IDM works in collaboration with:


    Our Expertise

    The IDM brings together the knowledge and expertise of many programs throughout our hospital and incorporates clinical disciplines including: