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Welcome to the website of the London Down Syndrome Consortium. We are  a large, multidisciplinary group of clinicians, human geneticists, developmental psychologists, mouse geneticists, psychiatrists and cellular scientists working towards understanding dementia in people with Down syndrome. To find out more about who we are and what we do, see the pages about us.

This website has been designed to provide information for participants and carers / family members about our research and for researchers interested in our work and Down syndrome and dementia.


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In memory of Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith


Professor Karmiloff-Smith


We regretfully bring you the sad news that Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith, the leader of our infant workstream, has passed away after a long battle with illness. Annette passed peacefully just before Christmas, surrounded by her family.

Professor Karmiloff-Smith was a hugely influential seminal thinker in the field of child development. She began her career as a UN translator in Geneva but her interests soon turned to the emergence of language in children.

She trained in Geneva under Barbel Inhelder and Jean Piaget. Her first article in 1975 (If you want to get ahead, get a theory!) encapsulated her view that understanding cognitive processes was the key to understand the child's developing abilities. Annette always emphasised the importance of development itself when trying to understand both typically and atypically developing children (Development itself is the key to understanding developmental disorders, 1998). Under this view, typical and atypical development are construed as different life trajectories driven by the same underlying mechanisms. This theoretical work led her to take substantial steps forward in understanding the abilities of children with William’s and Down syndromes. Finally, in later years her work focused on understanding the complex epigenetic interactions involved in brain organisation across early development.

Professor Karmiloff-Smith was also a prolific author and co-author of very influential books. Her most notable scientific books Beyond Modularity: A Developmental Perspective on Cognitive Science (1992) and Rethinking Innateness: A Connectionist Perspective on Development (1996) have been reprinted in several languages. As someone committed to the communication of science to a broader audience, Annette also wrote several extremely successful books directed at a lay audience (Baby It's You: A unique insight into the first three years of the developing baby, 1994).

Professor Karmiloff-Smith was a founding member of the LonDownS Consortium (2012) and headed the workstream assessing babies and infants with Down syndrome. Annette was a hugely valued and extremely prominent leader in the Consortium and always emphasised her view that it is vital to understand development in order to understand later life.

Annette was loved by her colleagues and students and had a fantastic sense of humour. She received dozens of accolades during her career, including a Fellowship of the British Academy, Fellowships of the Cognitive Science Society, Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences and honorary doctorates from universities across the world.

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World Down Syndrome Day 2017

World Down Syndrome Day 2017 is fast approaching us and LonDownS is planning an event for everyone involved in our research project. We are currently finalising details of our plans but we will be hosting some events at the Wellcome Collection (opposite Euston station) for participants, carers and family members and later in the day we'll be giving a few talks over in Queen Square about Down syndrome research. Further details will be announced on this website.

If you have any comments or suggestions of what you would like to see or find out about our work, Tweet us @LonDownS or e-mail us at downsyndrome@ucl.ac.uk.


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Page last modified on 19 jan 17 11:50