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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > May, 2006 Index    

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - May, 2006



International Activities

NIDA International Forum

International Program Moves to NIDA Director's Office
The NIDA International Program, which had been a component of the Office of Science Policy and Communications, is now part of the Office of the Director. The shift will enhance the International Program's ability to advance NIDA's mission by fostering international cooperation in drug abuse and addiction research, while integrating NIDA's Divisional research priorities and crosscutting research issues within the frameworks of NIDA, NIH, and HHS.

NIDA Launches Latin American Initiative

Acting on its mission to work with neighboring countries in joint efforts to address drug addiction and its consequences, NIDA has launched a Latin American Initiative designed to increase training in areas such as diagnosis, data analysis, and clinical trials; stimulate the creation of regional networks to improve surveillance and research activities; expand NIDA's library of Spanish-language resources; and provide information useful to policymakers. The NIDA International Program will lead efforts to accomplish these goals by partnering with organizations such as the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) at the Organization of American States, the Pan-American Health Organization, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to support training programs, surveillance activities, and database analyses. The NIDA International Program also will coordinate efforts by other NIDA and NIH components, including DESPR, CTN, and the Fogarty International Center, to promote surveillance activities, clinical trials, and training programs. Initial activities include:

  • NIDA supported the participation of Dr. Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA, in the March 2006 organizational meeting of the UNODC Central America Regional Substance Abuse Treatment Network, where representatives from the six participating Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) met to identify focus areas in drug abuse research and training and begin developing a clinical research infrastructure.
  • The NIDA International Program will partner with DESPR and CICAD to coordinate activities designed to stimulate the organization of an epidemiology network in the Latin American region similar to the NIDA Community Epidemiology Working Group (CEWG). The International Program will support the participation of Latin American scientists and CICAD representatives at the June 2006 CEWG meeting and the organizational LAWEG meeting in October 2006. NIDA will also support the participation of NIDA staff and National Hispanic Science Network (NHSN) representatives at the LAEWG organizational meeting.
  • The NIDA International Forum, which will be held June 16-20, 2006, in conjunction with the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, will include a plenary session to identify relevant activities supported by NIDA and its partner agencies and a Spanish-language workshop to stimulate the creation of regional surveillance and research networks. Representatives from CICAD, PAHO, UNODC, NHSN, and the U.S. Department of State will participate in the NIDA International Forum sessions.

Research Results

INVEST-Supported Research Identifies Gene Associated with Smoking Initiation and Nicotine Dependence
Research published by 2004-2005 NIDA INVEST Fellow Dr. Lan Zhang, China, and her mentor, Dr. Kenneth Kendler, Virginia Commonwealth University, suggests that the Phosphatase and Tensin Homolog (PTEN) gene may be involved in the etiology of both smoking initiation and nicotine dependence. Their article, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, Volume 141B, Issue 1, 10 - 14, compares allele and genotype frequencies between smokers and nonsmokers and between low nicotine dependent and high nicotine dependent subjects to identify three SNPs in the PTEN gene that are significantly associated with smoking initiation and a fourth SNP that shows association with nicotine dependence. Haplotype analyses indicate that a major haplotype is associated with smoking initiation and a minor haplotype is observed only in the high nicotine dependence group. Dr. Zhang also presented this research at the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics 2005 Annual Meeting and presented the team's research on the association of the opioid mu receptor gene with smoking initiation and nicotine dependence at the American Society of Human Genetics 2005 Annual Meeting.

DISCA-Supported Research Identifies Culturally Unique Drug Abuse Patterns among U.S. Immigrants from the FSU
2004 NIDA Distinguished International Scientist Dr. Richard E. Isralowitz, Ben Gurion University, Israel, and his DISCA partners, Drs. S. Lala Straussner, New York University, and Andrew Rosenblum, National Development and Research Institutes, New York, have published their joint research in the Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, Volume 5, Number 1, 91-6. The authors report on their studies of disease risk behaviors and barriers to treatment services among drug-using U.S. immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, concluding that the group's rapid transition to injection drug use and suspicion and avoidance of traditional drug treatment services are unique among U.S. immigrant populations.

Supplement to Drug and Alcohol Dependence Focuses on Links between Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS
NIDA and the editors of Drug and Alcohol Dependence have published a peer-reviewed journal supplement, Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS: International Research Lessons and Imperatives, to provide an international perspective on research exploring the intersections between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. Approximately half of the studies included in the supplement were supported, at least in part, by NIDA research funding, and several of the authors received research training fellowship awards through the NIDA International Program. The 6 full reports and 10 short communications published represent 15 countries and address the following general themes. First, the explosive nature of the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is again evident, particularly in areas where drug abuse is driving HIV transmission rates, like South Central Asia. The second theme emphasizes the interrelationship between HIV prevention and treatment and drug abuse prevention and treatment. The third theme relates to research to understand and overcome barriers to conducting effective surveillance, prevention, and treatment interventions. Guest Editors for the supplement were Dr. Steven W. Gust, IP Director; Dr. Steffanie A. Strathdee, University of California, San Diego; and Dr. Erin L. Winstanley, Johns Hopkins University. The 16 manuscripts were selected from 34 submissions received in response to a February 2005 open call for papers. The Guest Editors recruited more than 45 referees from 9 countries to conduct an anonymous peer-review. Senior members of the Drug and Alcohol Dependence Editorial Board then reviewed the entire supplement.

NIDA-Sponsored Meetings

NIDA Supports Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology (SNIP) Meeting
NIDA provided partial support for the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology (SNIP) meeting, April 5-9, 2006, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, focusing on the medical consequences of drug abuse-related infections, working with young investigators, and supporting the participation of international researchers at the meeting. Dr. Jag Khalsa, DPMCDA, was a featured speaker at the awards banquet, discussing the medical consequences of drug abuse and NIDA funding opportunities. Dr. Khalsa also reviewed the Institute's international activities. Drs. David Shurtleff and Charles Sharp, DBNBR, served as mentors in a session for young investigators, and Dr. Shurtleff helped conduct a grant writing seminar. NIDA supported the participation of Drs. Claire Gaveriaux-Ruff, France; Christoph Stein, Germany; Prati Pal Singh, India; and Yahuda Shavit, Israel.

Research Training and Exchange Programs

Three Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awards (DISCA/USDISCA) Announced
Three researchers have been selected as 2006 NIDA Distinguished International Scientists. The competitive DISCA and USDISCA awards provide support to senior scientists during research exchange visits of 1 to 3 months so that applicants and their partners can cooperate on drug abuse research.

  • Dr. Raka Jain, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), will work with Dr. Michael H. Baumann, IRP, to evaluate the acute neurochemical effects of modafinil, individually and in combination with cocaine, on extracellular dopamine and serotonin levels in the nucleus accumbens of rats. Modafinil is a potential pharmacotherapy to treat cocaine dependence. Drs. Jain and Baumann began collaborating when she visited the NIDA IRP as part of her 2005 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellowship. A former NIDA INVEST Fellow, Dr. Jain is an AIIMS professor; directs the pre-clinical behavior laboratory where she conducts research on tolerance, dependence, and abuse liability, and supervises drug testing of patients at the De-Addiction Centre.
  • Dr. Tatiana Tsarouk, Moscow State Medical Stomatology University, Russia, will work with Dr. Elaine Thompson, University of Washington, on their collaborative efforts to test a drug use and HIV prevention model designed specifically for Russian adolescents. The two began collaborating in 2001, when Dr. Tsarouk spent her NIDA INVEST Fellowship with Dr. Thompson adapting the Reconnecting Youth (RY) and Parents and Youth in Schools (PAYS) interventions to conduct a pilot prevention program in Russian schools. The collaboration continued when NIDA funded an international administrative supplement to expand the PAYS program in Russia. Drs. Tsarouk and Thompson will use the DISCA award to finalize two journal articles and revise an R01 grant application.
  • Dr. Ronald E. See, Medical University of South Carolina, will work with Dr. Juan J. Canales, Universidad de Valencia, Spain, to assess the underlying neural mechanisms in an animal model of relapse to cocaine-seeking behavior. By combining Dr. See's studies on the neurobiological substrate of relapse and Dr. Canales's studies of changes in striatal morphology with long term psychostimulant treatments, the investigators will employ an interdisciplinary approach to generate insights on the role of the basal ganglia in addiction. Drs. See and Canales anticipate publishing

Brazilian Named INVEST Fellow
NIDA has selected Dr. Paulo Telles, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as an INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellow. Dr. Telles will work with Dr. Kimberly Page-Shafer, University of California, San Francisco, to analyze hepatitis C (HCV) infection protection or susceptibility among young injection drug users (IDUs). The researchers will use qualitative and quantitative evidence to compare IDUs who are not infected with HCV to IDUs who have recently become infected with HCV in order to identify the prevention interventions and socio-cultural factors that moderate the risk of HCV infection. A psychiatrist, Dr. Telles has conducted research on preventing HIV, HCV, and other sexually transmitted diseases among drug-using populations that was supported by NIDA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Brazilian government.

NIDA, Department of State Select Humphrey Fellows
NIDA and the U.S. Department of State have selected eight scientists as the 2006-2007 Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows: Mr. Alamgir Golam Mahmood, Bangladesh Ministry of Home Affairs; Kevin Goulbourne, M.D., Western Regional Health Authority, Jamaica; Mehboob Singh, M.D., Patiala Government Medical College, India; Ms. Desiree Molina, Jose Felix Ribas Foundation, Venezuela; Mr. Nassery Ruhullah, Afghan Ministry of Public Health; Peter Ndege, M.D., Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya; Mr. Duc Nguyen, Vietnam Office on Drugs Control; and Mr. Amani Msami Kisanga, Tanzania Drug Control Commission. The 10-month NIDA Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships combine academic studies and professional affiliations with NIDA-supported researchers.

NIDA, WHO, CPDD Select International Traveling Fellows
Two scientists have been selected as WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows: Kostyantyn Dumchev, M.D., Ukraine, and Min Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., China. The Fellowships provide travel support for international researchers to conduct research visits to NIDA grantees and participate in two scientific meetings: the NIDA International Forum and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Annual Scientific Meeting. Dr. Dumchev will work with Dr. Joseph E. Schumacher, University of Alabama at Birmingham, to analyze data from their pilot study of behavioral treatments for injection drug users (IDUs) in Vinnitsya, Ukraine, and to begin statistical analysis of another study, predictors of HCV/HIV status in Ukrainian IDUs. Dr. Zhao will work with Dr. Walter Ling, UCLA, observing the research and clinical units of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, reviewing pharmacological and psychological treatments for drug abuse, and planning their project to develop and validate a Chinese version of the Addiction Severity Index. NIDA, the World Health Organization, and CPDD cosponsor the International Traveling Fellowships.

INVEST Fellows Tour IRP
The 2005-2006 NIDA INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellows toured the NIDA Intramural Research Program in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 2, 2006. The following IRP staff members met with the Fellows: Kenzie Preston, Ph.D., Chief, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch; Marilyn Huestis, Ph.D., Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section; Stephen Heishman, Ph.D., Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section; David A. Gorelick, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, Clinical Pharmacology Section; Eliot Stein, Ph.D., Chief, Neuroimaging Research Branch; Alane Kimes, Ph.D., PET Center; Eric Moolchan, M.D., Chief, Teen Tobacco Addiction Research Center; and David Epstein, Ph.D., Treatment Section.

International Visitors

On January 27, 2006 Mr. Takayuki Harada, Chief Psychologist, Tokyo Detention Center of the Ministry of Justice, Japan visited NIDA. Drs. Beverly Pringle and Bennett Fletcher, DESPR and Ms. Dale Weiss, IP met with Mr. Harada. The discussion centered on drug treatment in correctional institutions both in the United States and Japan.

Mr. Torkild Strandberg, a Member of the Swedish Parliament and Ms. Karin Karlsbro, Head of the Liberal Party's Parliament Office visited NIDA on February 28, 2006. Dr. Liz Ginexi, DESPR and Dr. Steve Gust and Ms. Dale Weiss, IP met with Mr. Strandberg and Ms. Karlsbro. The meeting included a presentation on prevention strategies with a focus on youth and a general overview of NIDA and NIH.

On March 14, 2006 Mr. Yuangao Hou, Vice Director, Research Center for Western Development and Executive Vice-Chair, Liangshan Yi Women and Children's Development Center, China visited NIDA. Mr. Hou met with Dr. Lynda Erinoff, Office of AIDS Research and Dr. Jessica Campbell, DESPR. Mr. Hou discussed his work with the Chinese Yi communities, concentrating on drug and HIV/AIDS issues and the protection of Chinese women and children.

Mr. Manne Jšnsson, Detective Superintendent of the Stockholm County Police, Sweden visited NIDA on April 4, 2006. Meeting with Mr. Jšnsson from NIDA were Dr. Shakeh Kaftarian, DESPR and Ms. Dale Weiss, IP. Mr. Jšnsson explained the drug abuse problems from a police perspective in Stockholm. Dr. Kaftarian provided an overview of prevention strategies aimed at youth.

Dr. Jenishbek Nazaraliev, President of the Medical Centre Nazaraliev in the Kyrgyz Republic visited NIDA on April 5, 2006. Drs. Steve Gust, Erin Winstanley and Ms. Dale Weiss, IP met with Dr. Nazaraliev. Dr. Nazaraliev gave an overview of the treatment program that is available at the Medical Centre Nazaraliev.

Other International Activities

On March 28, 2006, David McCann, Ph.D. presented a summary of recent advances toward understanding the pharmacology of buprenorphine to the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) in Geneva, Switzerland. The presentation emphasized growing evidence that stimulation of nociceptin/orphanin FQ receptors by buprenorphine is critical to the drug's overall activity. Evidence of this non-opiate mechanism of action (expanding our knowledge of dissimilarities between buprenorphine and prototypical opiates such as morphine) contributed to the ECDD's decision that buprenorphine should not be rescheduled internationally for control under the narcotic convention of 1961. Such a rescheduling would have limited - and in some cases precluded - the legitimate medical use of buprenorphine in several countries.

On March 13-18, 2006, Ivan Montoya, M.D. participated in the Third Regional Workshop of the Central American Network of Substance Abuse Treatment Providers, organized by the Regional Office of the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime. The workshop took in Panama City, Panama.


Index

Research Findings

Program Activities

Extramural Policy and Review Activities

Congressional Affairs

International Activities

Meetings and Conferences

Media and Education Activities

Planned Meetings

Publications

Staff Highlights

Grantee Honors



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