The Center’s mission is to identify causes and create solutions that give hope for ADHD and mental illness.
Welcome to the Center for ADHD Research at OHSU. ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a common but widely misunderstood syndrome. This web page provides information on ADHD, on our team, and on our research activities.
Why ADHD? the problem
Mental and behavioral disorders are collectively the leading cause of years of life lost to disability in the United States and the world. Oregon is no exception. We rank near the top in rates of suicide, mental and substance use disorders and near the bottom in care access in children and adults. The major reason for the burden of these conditions is that they have two defining features. First, they are common (over 17 million children affected in the United States and some 50,000 in Oregon). Second, they are early developing and persistent. All emerge during the period of development into adulthood, and into neural maturation.
ADHD is one of the most visible early manifestations of pathways into these major life difficulties:
- Serious physical injury
- Incarceration (ADHD is 10x as common in prison population)
- Early death
Educational costs alone are an extra $35 billion per year more for the population with ADHD in the United States. Health care costs are an extra $25 billion hitting families in the United States annually. This does not count lifetime costs as individuals reach adulthood such as under-employment, lost income and lost productivity. These figures show that ADHD is not just a mild condition. Life problems persist and too often multiply with development, evolving into increasingly difficult secondary problems.
Aggression, conduct problems and impulsivity result in outcomes that the individual did not want such as:
- Early pregnancy
- Drug problems
- Auto accidents
- Health problems
- Suicidal attempts
- Persistent difficulties coping with relationships and work.
Even with sustained treatment, these outcomes are often little altered. Thus, existing treatments do not solve the problem. They temporarily contain the symptoms for many, and are helpful in that way, but not enough to bring real relief much of the time. That is why we are actively searching for answers to these problems.
Creative solutions are needed, new insights, and new breakthroughs. The new Center for ADHD Research at OHSU undertakes creative and broad-ranging efforts to understand ADHD in terms of individual biology and personality as well as in terms of public health influences like environmental toxicants, poor diet, and health. We utilize state of the art methods to examine brain networks, genetic and other biological signals, and to develop new and better clinical prediction tools. We are supported by a world class team of scientists, collaborators around the world, strong funding partnership with the National Institutes of Health, enthusiastic donors, generous families and youth volunteering in our studies, energetic staff and volunteers, and students and trainees.
This is an exciting time, full of promise. Research is advancing rapidly and even in the last five years, our understanding of ADHD has progressed dramatically. We are optimistic for the future.
Thank you for visiting and please look for ways to help.