During the past three decades, Meridien Research’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Andrew J. Cutler has studied the root causes of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He understands the challenges and stress families undergo when their children have ADHD.
In 2011, approximately 11% of school-age children were diagnosed with ADHD. The rate of diagnosis has increased an average of 3% each year. And, in the state of Florida, approximately 75% of children diagnosed with ADHD took medication. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of ADHD, not all medications had a positive or desired effect.
Dr. Cutler explained this phenomenon: “The brain, because it’s so complicated, is difficult to find specific biomarkers. There are many different genes that have been implicated in the cause of ADHD, yet not all are known.” Unlike other organs in the human body, disorders affecting the brain, like ADHD, are heterogeneous and may require a series of differing medications to try and find the one that is most efficacious.
He has learned that children struggling with ADHD often feel like outsiders. For example, their school is not an environment designed to fit their needs, yet the expectations teachers and parents have for them are the same. “This is like a kid with a broken leg trying to win a race. He may finish the race, but he won’t win it.” Addressing these expectations for study participants is important for him, and moves in step with the advances in pharmacology. His research strives to provide children and parents with the right tools to have healthy and functional lives, while living with an ADHD diagnosis.
Helping Children and Families
Dr. Cutler is actively engaged in research for a variety of medical and mental disorders. He remains curious about the brain, how it works, and how people’s lives are affected by mental disorders. Even more important, he wants to help families who have been restricted from typical, everyday activities that many of us take for granted.
There are several advantages ADHD research studies have over mainstream medical practices. The first is no insurance is required. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the economic cost of having a child with ADHD can place a substantial strain on a family. Unfortunately, ADHD is becoming more prevalent in families earning less than $25,000 a year. Often, participants in a study may be compensated for their time and travel. Other advantages to participate in research are to learn more about a diagnosis and receive alternative treatments.
Dr. Cutler has personally witnessed, many times, his research change the lives of his participants and families. “A great example of this,” he explained, “happened when I was with one of the parents of a patient in my study. With tears in here eyes, she told me that for the first time her entire family was able to go to the mall. The restrictions on their family, put in place by ADHD, were lifted.” Moments like this — helping individuals and families — are what his research all about.
Currently, Dr. Cutler and his team of clinicians are conducting 10 studies concentrating on children with ADHD. The studies focus on the latest techniques in research backed medications, as well as digital therapy, a non-medication intervention that may build neuroplasticity. The goal for these studies is to understand which techniques modulate and regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, dopamine specifically.
Meridien Research helps children of all ages who are struggling to understand and manage their ADHD through medical research studies. Each of our facilities is staffed by a professional team of board certified physicians, psychologists, nurses, masters-level clinicians, research coordinators, and medical assistants, to ensure that every study participant is well cared for. If a child in your life has ADHD, feel free to reach out for a confidential consultation at 941-756-8680.