June 6, 2016  Print

An early career mental health scientist from The Westmead Institute for Medical Research has been awarded a grant to progress promising new research directions into Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) treatment.

Mental health researcher Dr Kristi Griffiths from The Westmead Institute is investigating new ADHD treaments
Dr Kristi Griffiths

Dr Kristi Griffiths from the Institute’s Brain Dynamics Centre was granted the My Westmead Elaine Tolley Medal in Mental Health. This award consists of two components: a prize of $5,000 and a grant of $30, 000 funding over two years.

The award aims to build research capacity and foster new research into the prevention, diagnosis and management of mental illnesses treated across the Western Sydney Local Health District.

The funding will enable Dr Griffiths to progress a first-of-its-kind project, which will use longitudinal data to examine the development of brain connectivity and well-being in people diagnosed with ADHD during childhood.  It will also examine how these changes are affected by long-term use of stimulant medication.

ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder. On average, there is one ADHD child or adolescent in every classroom in Australia.

ADHD increases the likelihood of poor long-term outcomes such as peer rejection, decreased educational attainment, and is associated with a more than doubled risk of death compared to those without ADHD.

Dr Griffiths said: “ADHD is a common disorder that can have devastating consequences on children and their families. This research will help us to gain a better understanding of the neural underpinnings of ADHD in children and adolescents, which is critical towards guiding treatment targets and reducing the major personal and socioeconomic burden.”

“Funding for research is really hard to come by, particularly early in your career. I’m extremely grateful for this money to allow me to pursue this research.”

Westmead Medical Research Foundation Chief Operating Officer Belinda Szafraniec said: “Westmead Medical Research Foundation is delighted to support the research of Dr Kristi Griffiths and her team with this award. We are excited about the outcomes that we hope they will achieve over the next year.”

“The Late Elaine Tolley generously left a gift in her Will to support research into mental health. We expect that the results from this project will benefit families and young people who will see improved mental wellbeing.”

This grant builds onto the existing generous support that Dr Griffiths had previously received from the Tenix Foundation Trust.

Co-director of the Institute’s Brain Dynamics Centre, Dr Mayuresh Korgaonkar said: “Kristi is a talented young researcher at a crucial juncture in her career. Grants such as the My Westmead Elaine Tolley Medal can make a huge difference in supporting early career researchers by permitting them to develop proof-of-concept for innovative ideas.”