The Nisonger Center was founded in 1966 as an interdisciplinary program of The Ohio State University. The United States Administration on Developmental Disabilities has designated Nisonger Center a "University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities" (UCEDD).
Nisonger Center is part of a network of 67 University Centers of Excellence. Each state has at least one such UCE. Information on the national network can be obtained from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in Silver Springs, Maryland.
Nisonger Center generates about 90 percent of its funding. Funding is about equally divided among federal, private, and county sources. In addition to core funding from the U.S. Administration on Developmental Disabilities to operate a Center for Excellence, Nisonger faculty have center grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. The remaining 10 percent of Nisonger's budget is supplied by The Ohio State University.
Nisonger's academic faculty are recognized experts in their fields. The Center's psychopharmacology research activity (RUPP) is aimed at evaluating scientifically the safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications and will be expanding to include research evaluations of treatment outcomes. These activities have attracted not only NIH support, but also significant private industry support. This research is focused on autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Furthermore, Nisonger education researchers are studying the fundamental nature of curiosity. The work is creating new opportunities for studying learning processes in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), one that is based on needs and curiosities rather than on behavior processes.
Nisonger Center clinics and services are led by professionals who have between 10 and 30 years of experience. The Center serves approximately 3,500 consumers each year. Nisonger's former Rural Developmental Clinics has attracted recent national interest, and Nisonger's Dental Clinic is funded to provide statewide technical assistance. Nisonger faculty also have consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice to prevent abuse in residential facilities.