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National Institute on Drug Abuse

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse

May, 2000


International Activities


NIDA and the Hungarian Ministry of Youth and Sports co-sponsored the U.S./East Europe Regional Meeting on Methamphetamine and Ecstasy Abuse Research, March 31-April 2, 2000, in Visegrád, Hungary. Drug abuse researchers from nine Eastern European nations, UNDCP, and the United States discussed scientific data about these drugs, sharing knowledge about how they act on the brain, how they produce their behavioral effects, and strategies for prevention and treatment. Speakers at the opening general session included Mr. Ákos Topolánszky, Deputy State Secretary, Hungarian Ministry of Youth and Sport; Dr. Gyula Telegdy, President, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Medical Section; and NIDA Director, Dr. Alan I. Leshner. The meeting was planned by an international organizing committee co-chaired by Dr. Anna Borsodi, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Szeged; Dr. Tibor Wenger, Semmelweis University, Budapest; and Dr. M. Patricia Needle, NIDA International Program. In addition to Drs. Leshner and Needle, the U.S. delegation included five NIDA grantees: Dr. Marianna K. Baum, University of Miami; Dr. Patricia Case, Harvard University; Dr. Richard Rawson, University of California, Los Angeles; Dr. George A. Ricaurte, The Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Claire Sterk, Emory University.

NIDA will shortly announce a new program to foster international collaborative research on drug abuse and drug-related consequences. The Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Program supports 1- to 3-month professional visits to the United States by experienced drug abuse researchers from any other country to stimulate development of innovative collaborative research. The Program will support research exchange visits by researchers who meet the following standards: (1) a minimum of 7 years of experience beyond the postdoctoral level in drug abuse research, (2) a scientific record that includes peer-reviewed publications, (3) letters of concurrence from the home and host institutions, and (4) two letters of support.

Dr. Piotr Popik, Poland, and Dr. Kültegin Ögel, Turkey, have been selected as the 2000 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows. The awards will support the researchers' collaborative visits with U.S. scientists and participation in two June 2000 scientific meetings, the NIDA-sponsored Building International Research on Drug Abuse: Drug Abuse Treatment in the New Millennium, and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Annual Scientific Meeting. The competitive International Traveling Fellowships are supported by NIDA, the World Health Organization, and CPDD. Dr. Popik will visit the laboratory of Dr. Herbert H. Kleber, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. Dr. Ögel will meet with researchers at the University of Michigan who conduct the NIDA-supported Monitoring the Future studies of drug abuse trends among American high school and college students, and will work with NIDA staff to begin planning a joint U.S.-Turkey workshop on drug abuse research that is scheduled for 2001.

The 1999-2000 INVEST Research Fellows visited NIDA in February to learn how the Institute administers its research programs and meet with Institute staff. On February 24, 2000, Dr. Vaughan Rees, Australia; Dr. Abdel Assi, Egypt; and Dr. Elisa Mengual, Spain, met with scientists at the Intramural Research Program (IRP), including Dr. Barry J. Hoffer, IRP Scientific Director; Drs. Tsung-Ping Su, Mark Walter, and Ronald Herning, Cellular Neurobiology Branch, Molecular Neuropsychiatry Section; Dr. David Gorelick, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Branch, Clinical Pharmacology Section; and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin, Behavioral Neuroscience Branch. The following day, they met with program officers at NIDA headquarters, including Dr. Rebekka Rasooly, DNBR; Ms. Carol Cowell, DESPR, and Dr. David Thomas, DNBR. They also attended a seminar on the NIH grant application process presented by the following NIDA staff members: NIDA Associate Director, Dr. Timothy P. Condon; Dr. M. Patricia Needle, International Program; Dr. Mark Swieter, OEA; Dr. David Thomas, DNBR; Dr. Jacques Normand, DESPR; and Dr. Lynda Erinoff, DESPR. The 1999-2000 Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows also participated in the half-day seminar.

Three researchers have been awarded NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships for 2000-2001: Dr. Olga Vassioutina, Russia; Dr. Leonid Godlevsky, Ukraine; and Dr. Elvia Amesty de Torres, Venezuela. The three were selected by a review panel that included Dr. Dorynne Czechowicz, DTR&D; Dr. Lynda Erinoff, DESPR; and NIDA grantee Dr. David Metzger, University of Pennsylvania. The competitive, 10-month Fellowships are sponsored by NIDA in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, the Institute of International Education, and The Johns Hopkins University. Through a combination of academic courses and professional experience, Fellows learn about NIDA-supported drug abuse research and the application of research to the development of prevention programs, treatment protocols, and government policy.

Dr. M. Patricia Needle, International Program, was in Mexico City April 4-7, 2000 to participate in the meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Health Commission working group. Participants from both countries reviewed the joint activities of the two nations in the six Core Group areas: Substance Abuse, Women's Health, Migrant Health, Tobacco Use Prevention, Immunizations, and Aging, to prepare for the May annual meeting of the Binational Commission in Washington, D.C. In addition, Dr. Needle worked with CONADIC (Mexican Council Against Addictions) and the Mexican Institute of Psychiatry staff members HaydŽe Rosovsky and Maria-Elena Medina Mora, respectively, to plan the one-day research symposium that will precede the annual U.S.-Mexico Binational Conference on Demand Reduction, to be held in Phoenix, May 30-June 2, 2000.

On April 18-19, 2000, NIDA's Center on AIDS and other Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse (CAMCODA) hosted the Global Research Network (GRN) on HIV Prevention in Drug-Using Populations Planning Committee Meeting. This working meeting was attended by representatives of ten national and international co-sponsoring organizations to finalize the agenda and activities associated with the third annual meeting of the GRN that will precede the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, on July 5-7, 2000.

Dr. Peter Delany and Dr. Kathy Etz, DESPR, and Dr. Patricia Needle, Director, International Program, OSPC, presented an overview of NIDA's prevention and services research to a group of 12 Russian drug abuse researchers and service providers on March 27, 2000 during the group's visit to NIDA.

Mr. Nicholas J. Kozel and Dr. Richard Needle, DESPR, participated in a meeting sponsored by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme and hosted by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon, Portugal on January 20-21, 2000 entitled: Consensus Seeking & Partnership Building to Produce More Comparable and Higher Quality Information on Illicit Drug Consumption Patterns. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for those involved in drug information gathering networks to discuss ways to (1) coordinate activities more effectively, (2) produce more comparable information, and (3) develop and support networking activities at a regional and global level. The need to discuss these issues, according to UNDCP, was based on the growth in epidemiologic activities around the world and the recognition of the importance of improving information on the nature of drug consumption patterns to inform policy formulation.

Mr. Nicholas J. Kozel, DESPR, participated in the biannual meetings of the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) held in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Durban on March 14-22, 2000. Alcohol continues as the dominant substance of abuse throughout the country, while cannabis and Mandrax (methaqualone) used alone or in combination (white pipe) are the major illicit drugs of abuse, although Mandrax indicators are level or declining. In contrast, cocaine indicators of both availability and abuse are increasing. Heroin and club drugs, such as Ecstasy and LSD also are becoming more prominent. In addition, abuse of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including Rohypnol, continues to be an issue across sites.

Ms. Moira O'Brien and Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, Dr. Dorynne Czechowicz, DTR&D, and Dr. Patricia Needle, International Program, met with Dr. Juan Yaria, Head of the Buenos Aires, Argentina, Provincial Drug Secretariat, on March 10, 2000, at NIDA headquarters to discuss issues of epidemiology, prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

Dr. Barbara H. Herman, DTR&D, was invited to give a presentation and attend the First Conference on the Neuroscience of Drug Addiction held by the Istituto Superiore di Sanitˆ, Rome, Italy on Feb 11, 2000. The title of Dr. Herman's presentation was: "A Clinical Focus on Medications Development for Cocaine, Methamphetamine, and Opiate Addiction." Clinical research on selegiline, and dopamine agonists and antagonists for treating cocaine addiction was presented. The importance of developing medications for relapse for all these addictive disorders was emphasized, including the possibility that interoceptive or exteroceptive cues contribute to relapse.

Dr. Herman was also invited to meet with clinicians and investigators in Parma, Italy to discuss glutamatergic antagonists as new medication treatments for addiction disorders, at the invitation of Gilberto Gerra, M.D. at the Servizio Tossicodipendenze, Az. USL, Distretto "Parma Citta" in Parma, Italy on February 14, 2000. Dr. Herman presented two consecutive one hour presentations on glutamatergic antagonists and addiction disorders, and medications development for cocaine and methamphetamine. These presentations highlighted the research of many NIDA grantees and others who have demonstrated a role for glutamate in the actions of both cocaine and methamphetamine related to addictive processes in animals.

Mr. Nicholas J. Kozel, DESPR, participated in a meeting sponsored by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme and hosted by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon, Portugal on January 20-21, 2000 entitled: Consensus Seeking & Partnership Building to Produce More Comparable and Higher Quality Information on Illicit Drug Consumption Patterns. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for those involved in drug information gathering networks to discuss ways to (1) coordinate activities more effectively, (2) produce more comparable information, and (3) develop and support networking activities at a regional and global level. The need to discuss these issues, according to UNDCP, was based on the growth in epidemiologic activities around the world and the recognition of the importance of improving information on the nature of drug consumption patterns to inform policy formulation.

Dr. Monique Ernst presented "Potential Relationship to Pain Syndromes in Lesch Nyhan Disease" at the Pain Syndromes and Associated Disorders Meeting Paris, France, February 3-4, 2000.

An AIDS supplement was awarded in the fall of 1999 to Don Des Jarlais, Ph.D. (NIDA Grant #R01 DA03574-16; "Risk Factors for AIDS among Intravenous Drug Users") for a unique and important research study on cross-border HIV prevention for injecting drug users and their sexual partners between Yunnan Province, China and Lao Cai, Vietnam. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Ford Foundation are also contributing financial support to the project. NIDA is supporting the design of the HIV prevention intervention and its evaluation in the project's first (current) year. Work will include site visits to candidate intervention villages and finalization of the intervention and evaluation designs in collaboration with the in-country partners in China and Vietnam. Dr. Des Jarlais will document the process of developing and implementing cross-border and multinational HIV prevention projects and strategies for assisting those seeking to develop cross-border collaborative projects. He and colleagues plan to build on their findings and expand their collaborative research efforts on HIV prevention among drug users. The study represents a new opportunity for research on coordinated programs that might reduce the spread of HIV across national borders in areas of the world in which the HIV epidemic is rapidly increasing among drug injectors.


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