$1M Gift Will Establish ADHD Center for Girls and Women

Teenage girl in library with book open, but looking away into the distanceAn anonymous family’s generosity will enable Duke University School of Medicine to establish one of the nation’s only programs dedicated specifically to helping girls and women with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The family has made a $1 million gift to support a center focused on research, education, and community outreach related to ADHD in girls and women.

The new center will build on Duke’s existing ADHD Program, one of the world’s oldest and most well-established academic medical center-based programs focused on ADHD. The Duke ADHD Program, founded more than 30 years ago and located within the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, directly serves some 150 new patients each year and includes comprehensive research and outreach components.

The philanthropic gift will leverage the Duke ADHD Program’s expertise, resources, and reputation to focus on ADHD as it specifically affects girls and women. The center will work to advance scientific knowledge; translate research findings into improved diagnosis and therapeutic options; educate clinicians, families, patients, and others about available resources and best practices; and conduct outreach to generate awareness and support.

Scott Kollins, PhD
Scott Kollins, PhD

“We’re thrilled to use this generous support to develop and launch a wide range of innovative education and outreach initiatives that will positively impact girls and women with ADHD and their families,” said Scott Kollins, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Duke ADHD Program.

ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric conditions of childhood. Children with ADHD may have difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks, and controlling impulsive behaviors. In about half of cases, ADHD continues into adulthood, with consequences that can range from difficulties with school and peer relationships to damaging and dangerous conditions including anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and eating disorders.

Although boys are 2-3 times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, evidence suggests that girls are more likely to suffer delays in diagnosis and treatment, and to have difficulties that last into their adult years. By older adolescence and early adulthood, girls with ADHD are at significantly increased risk for serious outcomes such as suicide and self-harm, unplanned pregnancies, mood disorders, and eating disorders.

In spite of these differences, limited resources have thus far been devoted to the study and care of ADHD specifically in girls and women. Far too often, they have nowhere to turn.

Now, thanks to the donor family’s generous gift, Duke will be able to offer girls and women with ADHD a brighter future.

January 13, 2021

By Dave Hart

This story was originally published by Duke Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.