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Elevance Health and AADMD Launch Bold Initiative to Broadly Expand Physician Training on the Care of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

  • Elevance Health is investing $1.42 million to help make IDD training mainstream in medical schools across the nation through the NICHE – Medical project.
  • Currently, 73 percent of medical students graduate with no training on how to care for patients with IDD.
  • Elevance Health funds for IDD curriculum have already been awarded to seven medical schools in 2023, and proposals for 2024 – 2025 academic year funding are currently being accepted.

As part of its ongoing commitment to health equity and medical workforce development, Elevance Health is investing $1.42 million to support the National Inclusive Curriculum for Health Education—Medical (NICHE – Medical) community-engaged approach to Intellectual and Development Disability (IDD) curriculum by medical schools across the country.

NICHE—Medical was founded by the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) in 2009 to provide training to medical students on the care of individuals with IDD. From 2016 – 2023, 20 U.S. medical schools, or about 10 percent of the nation’s medical schools, were supported by NICHE – Medical in developing and implementing IDD curriculum. Elevance Health’s funding and collaboration with AADMD aims to expand IDD curriculum implementation to reach 25 percent of U.S. medical schools, since it has been recognized that when 25 percent or more of medical schools independently adopt a topic within their curriculum, that topic is likely to be adopted by all medical schools and become a new educational standard.

"More than half of medical students have no training in caring for adults with IDD, and education about children with IDD remains minimal as well," said Dr. Priya Chandan, NICHE – Medical project director and clinical associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “However, Elevance Health’s collaboration and landmark funding is going to accelerate the inclusion of IDD in medical education, empowering thousands of future physicians across the nation to equitably and effectively address the needs of patients who have IDD.”

The purpose of NICHE – Medical is to provide training to medical students in the field of developmental medicine – the care of individuals with IDD across the lifespan. The project impacts medical students’ attitudes, knowledge and skills to address underlying ableism and impact how future physicians think about disability. Through a focus on health equity and the social drivers of health, the project centers people with IDD. It also fosters conversation and learning regarding issues faced by other disability and minoritized populations.

With Elevance Health funding and support, AADMD will disburse grants to 28 medical schools over the next five years to support IDD curriculum implementation efforts. This will more than double the number of medical schools that offer training on serving patients with IDD. Additionally, dozens of scholarships will be awarded to develop advanced learners who can champion the concepts of caring for patients with IDD. These advanced learners will have the opportunity to participate in immersion training that gives them insightful, hands-on and focused clinical experiences to prepare them for future roles as medical school faculty.

“Elevance Health has made a bold commitment to improving the health of humanity through our whole health approach of advancing health equity, and we can further this mission through innovative approaches to enhance primary care quality, address medical risks and close gaps on comorbidities that are overrepresented among people with IDD,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer of Elevance Health. “We are proud to stand alongside AADMD in one of country’s most progressive efforts to advance IDD curriculum and learning, and to proactively support medical schools and providers as they usher in a new era of informed and culturally competent care.”

IDD encompasses hundreds of diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Approximately 6.5 million people in the U.S. have IDD. These individuals have seen life expectancy dramatically increase, and the number of children with autism spectrum disorder continues to skyrocket. Elevance Health’s investments will empower medical schools to keep pace with these trends by educating medical students to work with patients with IDD and addressing the underlying ableism that contributes to the healthcare disparities faced by patients with IDD.

The first round of Elevance Health-funded NICHE—Medical grants have been awarded to the following medical schools:

  • Albany Medical College (NY)
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania (PA)
  • New York Medical College (NY)
  • Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine (NJ)
  • Stanford Medical School (CA)
  • UMass Chan Medical School (MA)
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore (MD)

On Nov. 1, AADMD released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the next round of grants that will be awarded for the 2024 – 2025 clinical academic year. To learn more about inclusive curriculum, NICHE—Medical and funding opportunities, visit


Elevance Health is a lifetime, trusted health partner fueled by its purpose to improve the health of humanity. The company supports consumers, families, and communities across the entire care journey – connecting them to the care, support, and resources they need to lead healthier lives. Elevance Health’s companies serve approximately 118 million people through a diverse portfolio of industry-leading medical, digital, pharmacy, behavioral, clinical, and complex care solutions. For more information, please visit or follow us @ElevanceHealth on Twitter and Elevance Health on LinkedIn.


The American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry (AADMD) is a non-profit, membership organization of interdisciplinary health professionals — including primary physicians, medical specialists, dentists, optometrists, nurses and other clinicians — committed to improving the quality of healthcare for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Since 2002, we have led the effort to improve the quality of healthcare for people with IDD. To learn more, visit


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