Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Nearly 1 in 5 adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Yet, 56% of adults with mental illness do not receive treatment. Amid COVID-19 and preparations being made to reopen the country, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month was created in 1949 by Mental Health America to reach millions through local events, screening, and media. The purpose is to show that everyone should care about mental health. The theme of 2020 is “Tools 2 Thrive.” A toolkit has been created to provide real-life tools and techniques that can be used by everyone to increase resilience and improve their mental health.

The printable handouts include ways to connect with others, screening kit, tips for staying positive, and more. This information can also be modified for the short term in response to dealing with COVID-19 and social distancing.


COVID-19 and Mental Health

Mental illness directly impacts your body. For example, those with depression are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Scientists have found that increased inflammation, metabolic changes, and changes in heart rate and circulation are present in those with depression.

The lifetime prevalence of any anxiety disorder is 31.6%, making the number of U.S. adults diagnosed a whopping 42.5 million. COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives, possibly forever. The number of cases, misinformation, and distance learning are just a few reasons anxiety these days can increase. Learning how to recognize when it’s more than “worry” is only one of the reasons why mental health awareness is so important.

What You Can Do


Mental Health America states, “84% of the time between first symptoms and first treatment is spent not recognizing the symptoms of mental illness.” When a mental illness is screened and caught early, treatment is more effective, resulting in positive effects being seen sooner. Many have said that before the results of their screening, they would not have known they needed treatment or had a mental illness. Mental Health America offers a free screening tool to see if you have any early warning signs. Although it is not a diagnosis, it provides insight into beginning those conversations with your doctor or family about your mental health.

Participating in clinical trials is also a great way to learn more about different mental health conditions, and be a part of potential new options that are being studied to diagnose and manage them. To learn more about getting involved in future mental health studies at one of our locations, visit our website here.



A pandemic a disease that is prevalent over an entire country or around the world. In early March, COVID-19 was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), but one could argue that there is another silent pandemic sweeping the nation, fatty liver disease. In fact, according to the NIH, between 30 and 40 percent of adults in the US are living with or at risk for a fatty liver.[1]

Fatty Liver Has Virtually No Symptoms 

Unlike the coronavirus, a fatty liver has virtually no symptoms, which means someone could be living with a fatty liver and not even know it. This could make living with a fatty liver disease even more dangerous. While some damage done to the liver can be reversed, without proper action, a fatty liver could eventually lead to irreversible cirrhosis or even cancer of the liver.

As mentioned, most people experience no symptoms, but some symptoms one could experience includes[2]:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness

A Fatty Liver Comes in Stages

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, or NAFLD, is a type of liver disease caused by the accumulation of fat around the liver due to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. It is a progressive condition that occurs in the following four stages[3]:

Stages of liver damage

  • Stage 1 – Normal Liver: Excess fat has built up in the liver cells, but there are typically no symptoms. This stage is considered harmless.
  • Stage 2 – Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH): The excess fat around the liver has caused the liver to become inflamed, suggesting some liver damage.
  • Stage 3 – Fibrosis: The inflammation caused by the excess fat around the liver has become persistent, resulting in fibrosis scar tissue replacing some of the healthy liver tissue.
  • Stage 4 – Cirrhosis: The most severe stage. There are now bands of scar tissue, and the liver has shrunk and become lumpy. Eventually, the liver could fail to function.

Is Your Liver At Risk?

Certain risk factors make a person more susceptible to developing a fatty liver. Those include being obese, having high cholesterol, having type 2 diabetes, or another metabolic syndrome.

NASH, Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease is a progressive condition, but by taking the right steps, it may be manageable or even reversible. Diet and exercise may not be enough for everyone, so it’s essential to know your options. There is currently no FDA treatment available, but research studies are evaluating potential new options.

Free fibroscans are available to adults who think they may be living with a fatty liver. Based on the results, research studies may be an option. Learn more about scheduling your free fibroscan here.





World Immunization Week: Bringing the Importance of Vaccines to the Forefront During the COVID-19 Pandemic

World Immunization Week is celebrated the last week of April and aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect those of all ages against diseases. Each and every year, millions of lives are saved due to vaccines, and immunizations are recognized as one of the most cost-effective health interventions. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of vaccines to the forefront of public health on a global scale. We are all interested how quickly vaccines can be produced and what all is involved.

How does a vaccine work?

 Vaccines work to give you immunity to a disease or illness without actually causing the illness. They are made up of a killed or weakened version of the disease causing germ or parts of the germ (antigens). Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses to build protection. Since our immune system is designed to remember, if you are exposed to the germ in the future, your immune system then knows to destroy the germ before it makes you sick.

What does the process look like for new vaccine approvals?

You have probably been hearing a lot of information in the news lately regarding vaccine timeline approvals due to the dire need to find a treatment for COVID-19. Typically, it can take a number of years for approvals for new therapies. This accounts for the time is takes to go through 3 phases of research to make sure that the therapy is safe and effective to be distributed for use to the public.  The FDA does have a fast-track status that is designed to expedite the review of drugs to meet an unmet medical need for serious conditions. You can read more about that here.

What diseases do vaccines prevent?

Vaccines protect against many different diseases including: Measles, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Polio, Rabies, Rubella, and Meningitis. Many other vaccines are currently being developed thanks to research.

 How do I get involved in vaccine research?

Evolution Research Group conducts clinical trials in a multitude of therapeutic areas. To learn more about how you can participate in our upcoming studies, please browse our current and upcoming studies for the location you prefer.

Participants may see a doctor or medical staff, have access to study-related medication, and may receive compensation for time and travel.

National Public Health Week 2020

Since 1995 the first full week of April has been deemed National Public Health Week (NPHW).  NPHW is fast approaching and is a time for communities everywhere to come together to highlight the issues that are important to improving the public’s health and helping people to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

National Public Health Week 2020 runs from April 6 through April 12. Each day is associated with a theme that focuses on a particular public health topic. The daily themes for NPHW 2020 are as follows:

MondayMental Health - Today’s theme focuses on emotional well-being.

TuesdayMaternal and Child Health – Tuesday’s theme is about ensuring the health of mothers and babies throughout their lifespan.

WednesdayViolence Prevention – This theme centers on reducing personal and community violence to improve health.

ThursdayEnvironmental Health – Today we focus on protecting and maintaining a healthy planet.

FridayEducation – Friday’s theme advocates for quality education and schools.

Saturday Healthy Housing – Today’s focus is about ensuring access to affordable and safe housing.

SundayEconomics – Sunday advocates for economic empowerment as a key to a healthy life.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, public health is at the forefront of our minds on a global scale. It applies to the weekly themes of each day in a number of ways. The pandemic is causing heightened levels of stress, especially when it comes to isolation and quarantine which can lead to a big mental health burden.

While pregnant women have not been identified to be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, women and children are still considered to be an at-risk population. Safe and affordable housing is more important than ever as we are spending much more time than usual in our homes.

Improving Public Health Through Research

Everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life in a safe environment. Clinical research studies are the only way that we gain new medications and therapies. By participating in a clinical trial, you can play an active role in educating yourself about your health. This can result in an improvement in the quality of your life. Research volunteers gain a sense of gratification from their contributions to society, and hope that the future will be brighter due to a wider range of options in medicine.  When study volunteers participate in research, society benefits, bringing new hope for patients afflicted with different conditions/diseases.

Evolution Research Group is seeking participants for many upcoming studies in cities such as Miami, Rogers, and Dayton. To see if any of these studies may be an option for you, click below.

I’m interested in MIAMI studies.

I’m interested in ROGERS, AR studies.

I’m interested in DAYTON, OH studies.


Evolution Research Groups acquires Richmond Behavioral Associates

Evolution Research Group ("ERG"), a leading independent clinical research site company with a focus in neuroscience and other special populations, has acquired Staten Island, NY-based Richmond Behavioral Associates (“RBA”).  Founded by Drs. Mark DiBuono and Adam Smith, RBA has been conducting CNS clinical trials for over 14 years across a broad range of illnesses including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and autism, in both pediatric and adult populations.

"The addition of RBA to the ERG portfolio expands our footprint in the region and allows us access to a tremendous population in NY,” said Andria Chastain, Chief Operating Officer at ERG.  She continued, “Their history of delivering quality results in complex outpatient trials, particularly in children and adolescents, expands our capacity and specifically complements the capabilities of Dr. Atkinson’s team at Finger Lakes in Rochester and our inpatient pediatric PK unit at Woodland International Research Group in Little Rock." Dr. Smith of RBA commented that, "The opportunity for growth and expansion in our geographic region is undeniable and, given ERG's excellent reputation in the industry and their proven track record of growing portfolio sites, our investigators, Dr. DiBuono and Dr. Eli Shalenberg, firmly believe that ERG is the perfect partner to take our site to the next level.”

Michael Farah, Chairman of ERG and Partner at Linden Capital Partners, added, "Dr. DiBuono and Dr. Smith have built a high-quality organization that fits perfectly with ERG.  RBA’s thoughtful growth plan aligns with ERG’s vision for the future, allowing us to further service our deep client base and continue to assist in the development of important new therapies."

Honigman LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisors to ERG.

Nixon Peabody served as legal advisors to RBA.

About Evolution Research Group

Evolution Research Group, LLC is comprised of 13 wholly owned and operated clinical research units, and an established network of affiliated clinical research sites. ERG conducts a wide range of simple and highly complex trials in specialized populations, including those suffering from psychiatric and neurological disorders, sleep disorders, addictions, acute and chronic pain, renal insufficiency, and hepatic impairment, among others, as well as studies performed normal healthy volunteers.


About Linden Capital Partners

Linden Capital Partners is a Chicago-based private equity firm focused exclusively on investing in the healthcare industry. Linden's strategy is based upon three elements: i) healthcare specialization, ii) integrated private equity and operating expertise, and iii) strategic relationships with large corporations. Linden invests in middle market platforms across the medical products, specialty distribution, pharmaceutical, and services segments of healthcare. For more information, please visit

SOURCE Evolution Research Group, LLC

Related Links:

COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19: Information, Action and Safety Tips

COVID-19 Coronavirus

ERG’s Sites have taken action

The health of our staff members, study participants and visitors is of utmost importance to us. Weeks ago, we took all action necessary to ensure everyone’s safety including following guidance from the CDC and National Institute of Health, and added even more preventative measures. These precautions include the use of masks and gloves, appropriate handwashing techniques, conducting Daily Visitor & Staff Health Screens including temperature checks, rescheduling appointments for anyone reporting flu-like symptoms and requiring that staff members not report to work if they are feeling ill. In addition to our rigorous cleaning processes, our locations implemented extensive environmental cleanings daily.

Information & education

The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has become a public health emergency and has been detected internationally as well as in the United States. Symptoms are similar to the flu and can include fever, coughing, body aches and problems breathing.

Safety Tips: The CDC has issued information on tips to keep you and your family protected during this outbreak.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Use the crick of the elbow if tissues are not available.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

For more information, visit

The Truth About Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder. It can be diagnosed as early as the age of 2, although some adults with milder symptoms live undiagnosed. Males are four times more likely to develop a form of autism than females. ASD is complex, and there is a lot of false information out there. Unfounded assumptions can have unintended, lasting effects on any medical condition. We are going to arm you with the basics of adult autism and reveal the truth to some common myths. Let’s get started!

Autism Defined

ASD covers a group of conditions that reflect challenges in social interactions, speech, communication skills, and repetitive behaviors. It has many subtypes, impact levels, and associated disorders. Some will need assistance for their entire lives, while others do not and can live independently. Genetics plays a role in most of the cases, although other factors increase the chances of someone being born with it.

Adults with ASD may exhibit different behaviors than those younger than them. Adult ASD symptoms include:

  • Clumsiness
  • Challenges conversating with others
  • Understanding other’s emotions
  • Challenges regulating emotions
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Involuntary noises such as repeatedly clearing their throat
  • Trouble understanding sarcasm or jokes

ASD is more common in males, but the “why” is not so clear. Some research suggests that those diagnosed with ASD have brains that are anatomically more male-like. Others indicate the testing that is used is based on male characteristics, and so more women may be misdiagnosed.

Common Myths

There is no shortage of the myths and stigma that surround ASD. Some people think that if you have ASD, you act just like Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” This not true. No two people have the same characteristics with ASD. Here are some other typical myths and the truths behind them:

  • “Vaccines cause autism.”
    • Truth: Vaccines do not cause autism. The original study published in 1997 by a British surgeon has been discredited. In addition, numerous studies have debunked this myth.
  • “Autism is the result of bad parenting.”
    • Truth: ASD is coded into the genetics of the vast majority of cases. The 1950’s “Refrigerator Mother” theory contributed to this ridiculousness, citing that mothers who lacked emotional warmth caused ASD.
  • “If you have ASD, you are intellectually disabled.”
    • Truth: ASD can mean just as many exceptional abilities as it does challenges. Individuals diagnosed can have IQ’s in the typical to high ranges.

Learning More About ASD Through Research

Clinical research studies help substantiate information around medical conditions like ASD. The information learned sets the foundation for improving how these conditions are detected and managed.

Evolution Research Group routinely conducts autism studies evaluating potential new options at our Rogers, AR location. To get involved in future study opportunities, click here.




Patient Safety in Clinical Trials

Healthcare safety is a growing public health concern since we all will interact with the healthcare system at some point in our lives. Although clinical trials aren’t technically part of the healthcare system, participants do receive health care in similar ways. Those that participate may receive expert care by a team of doctors, nurses, and trained clinical research professionals, and may have access to current or investigational medications throughout the duration of a trial.

Patient Safety Week takes place this month, so we wanted to show you how clinical trials keep patients safe.

What is Patient Safety Week?

Patient Safety Week is held annually in March. Its purpose is to create awareness about patient safety and recognize the work already being accomplished. This year, the week is March 8th-14th, and the goal is “to advance important discussions locally and globally and inspire action to improve the safety of the health care system — for patients and the workforce.”

Why is Patient Safety Important in Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials collect data on the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, diagnostics, devices, and therapy practices. Healthy volunteers and patients are enrolled in studies to compare the new product or medication with currently available options.

Although every possible safety measure and test has been performed before trial enrollment, there is still some level of risk.

How Trials Keep Patients Safe

Before being used in clinical trials, new interventions are first studied extensively in the lab and/or in animal studies. Trials can take place only after the FDA approves the trial process to begin.

The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) evaluates new drugs before they can be sold. They accomplish this by setting up review points before, during, and after the clinical trial process. Each study must follow the Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines that oversee clinical research. The GCP guidelines ensure that trials ethically operate in the rights, safety, and welfare of patients and the collection of data.

Participants in clinical trials also go through an informed consent process before they can enroll. It confirms the participant understands the research and its risks.

Advancing Patient Safety

We all have a role to play in improving patient safety. To see how you can get involved, visit the IHI’s patient safety page, here.

Choosing to volunteer in clinical research is an important and individual decision. You can learn more about participating, where our site locations are, and view a list of upcoming studies, by visiting us here.



Healthy Hearts and Healthy Minds


Keeping your body healthy is something that has been instilled in us all our lives. If you take care of your body, you can live longer and have a happier life. Your brain is one of the vital organs that relies on a properly functioning body to have the blood flow needed to perform its daily functions. When your mind has what it needs, you can better solve problems, pay attention, communicate, and more. February is American Heart Month, and your heart is the key to giving your brain the blood flow it needs, along with the rest of your body. Learning how mental health and heart health affect each other along with what easy, healthy changes you can make, are the first steps to live a healthier life.

Mental Illness and Heart Health


Many believe that the relief of symptoms of depression, anxiety, etc. through smoking, eating fatty foods, and drinking are the main contributing factors linking heart disease and mental health. However, there are biological and chemical changes in the body that can also trigger mental health issues and impact heart disease. For example, stress can affect your blood pressure and heart rate from the increase in specific hormones it causes.

Also, those who have mental illness may lack the energy to do the things they need to keep up with their physical health, like exercise.

Getting Healthy


The arteries from the heart are the highways that supply vital oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the brain. Plaque buildup and hardening of the arteries from food and lifestyle choices isn’t just specific to the heart; it’s everywhere in the body. Diet and exercise are the keys to getting your health back on track and maintaining it.

Here are some food choices that will pack a punch:

  • Fish- One or two (4 oz) servings a week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and can reduce inflammation in arterial walls, which keeps blood flowing to the brain. Salmon, mackerel, rainbow trout, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • A Glass of Red Wine- The compounds in red wine help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They also help thin out the blood, thus helping prevent dangerous blood clots.
  • More Produce- Every serving of fruits and vegetables eaten improves blood flow helping to lower high blood pressure. Produce rich in potassium such as bananas, tomatoes, and artichokes may also help prevent artery walls from thickening.

Exercise is right for your heart and brain. It helps improve heart function, and some activities can give your brain a workout through rhythm, strategy, and coordination. Below are some fun ways to work up a sweat:

  • Walking, Jogging, or Running
  • Ballroom Dancing
  • Circuit Workouts

Continuing clinical research is needed to better understand the diseases of the heart and its relation to mental health. These efforts improve diagnostic and therapeutic options for those affected by mental illness. Click to learn more about upcoming mental health studies at our research sites in DaytonRogers, and Little Rock.





Show Your Liver Some Love

The primary job of the liver is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. It also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. If care is not taken, mainly when other chronic conditions exist, damage to the liver can occur. Diabetes is one of those chronic conditions. Diabetes increases your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Without proper diet and lifestyle changes, fatty liver disease will progress to NASH and lead to chronic inflammation and eventually scarring of the liver. It’s February, and with all the love in the air, it is never too late to show your liver some love by taking the right steps to keep it healthy.


How Diabetes Affects the Liver


About half of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will develop fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease happens when a chronic buildup of fat occurs in the liver. Everyone’s liver has a little bit of fat, but with this condition, there is a lot. The excess fat acts as a toxin to the liver cells, causing inflammation that can develop into NASH. NASH is the halfway point in the progression to cirrhosis, which is where irreparable damage is done to the liver. Poorly managed diabetes can make fatty liver disease worse.

How to Prevent NASH/Fatty Liver

Fatty liver and progression to NASH can be prevented with a few easy steps:

  • Eat a Healthy Diet- Choose a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  • Maintain Healthy Weight- Reduce the number of calories you eat each day if you are overweight or obese.
  • Exercise- Keep active by exercising almost every day. If you have never regularly exercised, check with your doctor first.

If you do have diabetes or are overweight, you are at a higher risk of developing liver disease. A fibroscan is a non-invasive and painless way to check the health of your liver. It can help detect fatty liver and scarring all without the need for a liver biopsy. Those determined to have fatty liver may be eligible for upcoming clinical studies that may help. To learn more, click here.