Collaborative study to focus on research, education, treatment for children with ADHD

Dr. Graham Emslie, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at UT Southwestern, is a principal investigator of an innovative three-year study aimed at helping children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their families. The research — designated the Center for Advanced ADHD Research, Treatment and Education (CAARTE) — will include collaborative efforts from UT Southwestern, UT Dallas' Center for BrainHealth and Shelton School of Dallas.

DALLASNov. 6, 2006 — UT Southwestern Medical Center, UT Dallas' Center for Brain Health and Shelton School of Dallas will join forces to conduct an innovative three-year research study aimed at helping children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their families.

The research study — designated the Center for Advanced ADHD Research, Treatment and Education (CAARTE) — will offer a multidisciplinary approach to further understanding of ADHD, provide better education to affected families and discover better treatment methods for children suffering from the disorder. CAARTE was established by a $3 million grant from the Sparrow Foundation of Dallas.

"This project offers a unique opportunity to combine the resources of three institutions, each involved in different aspects of ADHD, to form a collaborative team approach to studying ADHD and children who have this disorder," said Dr. Graham Emslie, principal investigator and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at UT Southwestern. "Prior to this, there's been no coordinated program targeted toward ADHD in the Dallas area."

The research team will include:

  • Psychiatrists, neuropsychologists and researchers from
    UT Southwestern and Children's Medical Center Dallas, who diagnose and treat children with ADHD;
  • Experts from UT Dallas' Center for BrainHealth who conduct brain-mapping and brain-monitoring studies to better understand children's brain activity as they learn; and
  • Educators from Shelton School, the country's largest private school for children with diagnosed learning differences. 

One of the program's primary goals is to translate discoveries from brain science into innovative diagnostic and treatment interventions. Other objectives include improving learning efficiency, social success, and parent and teacher involvement, as well as developing timely methods for evaluating effectiveness of treatment and long-term effects on brain and cognitive development in ADHD-affected children.

ADHD is a developmental and behavioral disorder characterized by poor concentration, distractibility, hyperactivity and acts of impulsiveness that are inappropriate for a child's age. Children with ADHD have functional impairment across multiple settings including home, school and peer relationships. They often suffer long-term adverse consequences that affect their academic performance, vocational success and social-emotional development. ADHD is estimated to affect 3 percent to 5 percent of children — approximately 2 million in the United States — and often continues into adulthood.

"There is a need to develop effective treatment strategies that impact children at a younger age to prevent the long-term negative effects of ADHD," said Dr. Emslie, professor of psychiatry. "One of our focus areas is to identify children in preschool while their brains are still maturing, with the goal to develop interventions and make changes in learning skills before they reach school age."

This includes identifying preschool children who may have ADHD-like symptoms but may or may not have been diagnosed with the disorder. These children and their parents will be offered a free, 10-session preschool parent education program designed to help empower parents and teach them more about ADHD and how to assist their children. The program will be taught at Shelton School and Children's Medical Center.

CAARTE will also compare the effectiveness of two nonmedication interventions with routine clinical practices, as well as measure changes in brain activation patterns using evoked response potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Other educational programs and clinical trials will be implemented as the study progresses, Dr. Emslie said.

"We hope that CAARTE is the first step in developing a larger and long-term program for understanding and treating children with ADHD," Dr. Emslie said. "It will allow us to both start studying these problems and developing interventions and assistance to these children, while also laying the groundwork for further research."

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About UT Southwestern

UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. Its more than 1,400 full-time faculty members — including four active Nobel Prize winners, more than any other medical school in the world — are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 89,000 hospitalized patients and oversee 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.

Physicians care for patients in the Dallas-based UT Southwestern Medical Center; in Parkland Health & Hospital System, which is staffed primarily by UT Southwestern physicians; and in its affiliated hospitals, Children's Medical Center Dallas and the VA North Texas Health Care System.


Contact: LaKisha Ladson

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