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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - May, 2008



International Activities

Funding Initiatives

NIDA Funds Three International Tobacco Research Awards
Binational research teams in Argentina, Brazil, and Syria have been awarded NIDA R01 research project grants through the Fogarty International Center International Tobacco and Health Research and Capacity Building Program. The program supports transdisciplinary research and capacity-building projects that address the burden of tobacco consumption in low- and/or middle-income nations by funding U.S. researchers partnering with scientists and institutions in low- and/or middle-income nation(s), where tobacco consumption is currently (or anticipated to become) a public health priority. The major portion of the research must be conducted outside of the United States, and more than 60 percent of the direct costs requested must be used in the partner nation for either research and/or capacity strengthening of foreign institutions. The research teams include:

  • Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, University of California San Francisco, will collaborate with Raul Mejia, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and Ethel Alderete, Universidad Nacional De Jujuy, to develop an intervention to prevent tobacco use among diverse youth in Northwest Argentina; to implement and evaluate a system-based smoking cessation intervention using a randomized trial design among physicians to promote smoking abstinence and quit attempts in their patients who smoke; and to develop policy interventions to promote smoke-free indoor space and regulation of tobacco products' advertising by continuing to analyze the tobacco industry documents on Argentina.
  • Dr. Isabel Scarinci, University of Alabama at Birmingham, will collaborate with Brazilian scientists at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Parana to develop a Network for Tobacco Control among Women in Parana, Brazil, in order to establish community and institutional capacity to promote gender-relevant tobacco control efforts among Brazilian women through community-based participatory research and training. The goals of the network are to reduce tobacco use and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke among Brazilian women, and to develop a cadre of well-trained researchers in tobacco control.
  • Dr. Wasim Maziak, University of Memphis and the Syrian Center for Tobacco Studies, will study adolescent tobacco use patterns and determinants: a school-based longitudinal study will examine trends in tobacco use in 4,000 Syrian youth; a laboratory study of 240 waterpipe users will investigate waterpipe toxicant exposure, dependence, and risk; and a randomized clinical trial will test a smoking cessation intervention in 250 smokers.

NIDA/CICAD Research Awards Announced
Through its Latin America Initiative, NIDA and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) cosponsor the Competitive Research Award Fund to support drug use research in the region. Awards support pre- or postdoctoral students conducting research in any area of the drug use field. Priority is given to projects involving secondary analysis of existing research databases, such as national drug use surveys. The national drug commissions in Organization of American States member countries review initial applications and forward appropriate projects to the CICAD Inter-American Observatory on Drugs for review by representatives from NIDA and CICAD. The call for applications for the second round of awards was issued in October 2007. The second-round awards include:

  • Argentina
    • Ariel Gerardo Blanc - Analysis of risk and protection factors associated with the increase and decrease of psychoactive substance use among secondary school students in the Province of Entre Rios, 2001-2005.
    • Jorge Andres Bustos - Drug use and abuse: Study of the sociodemographic profiles, patterns of use, cognitive aspects, and beliefs regarding pharmacology.
  • Bolivia
    • Erik Fernandez Revollo - Psychological risk and protective factors for drug use in the cities of La Paz and El Alto.
  • Brazil
    • Marcelo Niel - The "coming out" process and its influence on mental health and the abuse or dependence on psychoactive substances among male homosexuals.
    • Monica Siqueira Malta - Ten years of free access and universal treatment for HIV/AIDS: Evaluating the impact of the Brazilian response to the AIDS epidemic among drug users.
    • Virginia Martins Carvalho - Study on crack use related to violent deaths in the state of Sao Paulo.
    • Nathalia Susin - Mapping the profile of psychoactive drug users in specialized clinics.
  • Chile
    • Marcos Antonio Munoz Robles - Typology and sociodemographic characterization of drug users in Chile.
    • Marta Ester Belmar-Mellado - Relationship between the expectations related to tobacco use with body image: a comparative study among Spanish and Chilean adolescents.
  • Colombia
    • Catalina López Quintero - Perceived harmfulness of drugs and its association with drug use onset and transition to an established pattern of drug use among adolescents in Bogotá, Colombia.
    • Marcela Correa Muñoz - Relationship and impact of psychoactive substance use on health in Colombia.
    • Luz Adriana Rivera Gonzalez - Life habits that include drug use prevalence in the student population of the Popular Catholic University of Risaralda.
    • Juan Sebastián Sabogal Carmona - Determining the composition of drugs of abuse seized in Bogota during the second semester of 2008.
  • Ecuador
    • Clara Inés Jácome - Critical descriptive analysis of the application of the Psychosomatic Exam in the penal procedures of Ecuador and its legal consequences.
  • Mexico
    • Marycarmen Noemí Bustos - Psychosocial factors associated with drug consumption among high school students in Jalisco.
  • Uruguay
    • Carla Sacchi - Gender analysis of the development of illegal drug consumption among students at the school of Professional Technical Education of Montevideo (2001-2007).
    • Marcelo Rossal - Reciprocity and distribution of cocaine paste: An anthropological focus.
    • Soledad Brescia, Gabriela López, and Margarita Wschebor - Patients in the psychiatric hospital and comorbidity with psychoactive substance consumption.

Binational Agreements

NIH and India Agree To Cooperate on Research into Mental Health, Neurology, & Addiction
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of India (DBT) have signed a 5-year agreement to facilitate increased research collaboration related to mental health, neurology, and addictive disorders. NIDA, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and DBT will identify and conduct collaborative biomedical and behavioral research in areas such as (1) translational and clinical research for new therapeutics and biologicals; (2) genetic testing and mapping of brain disease and disorders; (3) animal models for collaborative research, including non-human primate models; (4) stem-cell biology research; (5) public repositories, such as genetic repositories; (6) advanced brain-imaging technologies, including magnetic resonance imaging; (7) computational neuroscience and neuroinformatics; and (8) data, tool, and resource sharing. Cooperative activities are likely to include workshops and meetings to identify priorities, share experiences, and discuss areas of scientific collaboration; direct links between institutions in both countries; and increased collaboration and exchanges among scientists in both countries to conduct research, research training, and product development. The agreement calls for both nations to identify appropriate funding sources for the reciprocal activities, which are to be assessed under the countries' normal review processes. The Fogarty International Center drafted the agreement, which was signed March 4, 2008, by NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., and Dr. Raj Bhan, Secretary of India's Department of Biotechnology. For more information about Indo-U.S. collaborations, e-mail Thomas C. Mampilly at the Fogarty International Center: mampillyt@mail.nih.gov. For more information about NIDA priorities for Indo-U.S. collaborations, e-mail International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D.: ipdirector@nida.nih.gov.

International Visitors

The Acting U.S. Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., joined staff from NIDA, NCI, NHLBI, NIMH, FIC, SAMHSA and CDC and Russian public health experts at NIDA on February 12, 2008 to discuss anti-smoking efforts. The meeting was organized by Allison Chausmer, Ph.D., DBNBR; IP Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., and IP Program Analyst Dale Weiss also participated. The Russian delegation expressed particular interest in conveying anti-smoking messages to health care providers, banning smoking in public places, and NIDA outreach materials.

Dr. Ali Dhansay, Vice President South African Medical Research Council (MRC) visited the Fogarty International Center on February 28, 2008. Dale Weiss, IP met with Dr. Dhansay at FIC to apprise him of NIDA's activities in the Southern African region and to hear about the work the MRC is doing related to drug addiction.

Research Results

International Program-Supported Researchers Enhance Intravenous Self-Administration in Mice
Researchers supported by a NIDA Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award (DISCA) have developed a new catheter that improves the ability to conduct intravenous self-administration experiments in mice. Petri Hyytia, Ph.D., Finland National Public Health Institute, and his DISCA partner, Gregory P. Mark, Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University, miniaturized the catheter used in rats and embedded the tubing in a nylon mesh catheter base implanted underneath a mouse's skin between the scapulae. The new design prevents mice from dislodging the catheter or chewing the external tubing, significantly improving patency times and minimizing the chewing problems reported in previous experiments with mice. The researchers used the new catheter to establish reliable methamphetamine (MA) self-administration in mice, generating a typical MA dose-response curve documenting the inverse relationship between unit doses and rates of self-administration: as doses decreased, responding increased. Drs. Hyytia and Mark report that the new catheter design will enhance pharmacological studies with various drugs acting on acetylcholine receptors, studies in which drug self-administration is combined with microdialysis, and experiments employing an increasing number of genetically engineered mouse lines to clarify the actions of MA in the brain and the neural basis of MA addiction.

DISCA Researchers Find Reducing Stress Hormones May Prevent Relapse to Cocaine Use
Preliminary data from experiments conducted by Meera Vaswani, Ph.D., All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and her NIDA Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award (DISCA) research partner, Nicholas Goeders, Ph.D., Louisiana State University, found that reducing stress hormones may prevent relapse to cocaine use. The researchers administered a combination of metyrapone and oxazepam, which reduced corticosterone compared to vehicle in rats, indicating a trend toward the effectiveness of the drug combination in preventing relapse to cocaine use. The two investigated the biological basis of stress and the subsequent activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in cocaine reinforcement, documenting that the HPA axis is involved in relapse to cocaine seeking. Dr. Vaswani is awaiting approval to conduct clinical trials of the combination drug to treat heroin addiction in India.

Inhalant Abuse Working Group Formed in East and Southern Africa
Drug abuse professionals working in East and Southern Africa have formed an inhalant abuse working group to raise general awareness, develop education materials, train service providers, educate government officials, and promote scientific research on the topic. Meeting in conjunction with a November 2007 UNODC Regional Consultation in Mombasa, Kenya, 15 participants from 11 countries appointed two coordinators for the East and Southern Africa Inhalant Abuse Working Group: former NIDA Humphrey Fellow Dr. Peter Ndege, Kenyan National Agency for the Campaign against Drug Abuse Authority, and Mr. Rogers Kasirye, Uganda. The group intends to develop a listserv of interested groups to collect data for further analysis and provide training on inhalant abuse-related research, prevention, and treatment. Participants noted that little is known about inhalant abuse in Sub-Saharan Africa, although anecdotal evidence indicates that inhalant abuse is an issue in most cities among all groups, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, gender, or educational status. Members reported that glue, paint thinner, and gasoline are the most commonly abused substances, and that nongovernmental organizations are working with inhalant abusers despite the fact that they do not document this work. Participants represented Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zanzibar.

Fellowships

NIDA Selects Mexican Epidemiologist for DISCA Award
Octavio Campolo, Ph.D., University of Guadalajara, has been selected as a NIDA Distinguished International Scientist to collaborate with Fernando Wagner, Sc.D., Morgan State University. Drs. Campolo and Wagner will restructure data sets, complete data analysis, and prepare manuscripts for publication for two research projects: (1) risk factors for substance use in high school students in Jalisco, Mexico; and (2) HIV and hepatitis in drug addicts in West Mexico. The two also plan to prepare a grant proposal to further collaborate on projects investigating the prevalence and associated factors for substance use among youths in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Chinese &Thai Researchers Named 2008 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows
Yu Liu, Ph.D., Chinese National Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University, and Rasmon Kalayasiri, M.D., a psychiatrist and instructor at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, have been selected as the 2008 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows. 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. Liu will work with Tom Kosten, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine, to advance their collaborative research on morphine vaccine development, which is supported jointly by NIDA and the Chinese government. An expert in animal models of neurobehavioral and neurochemical adaptations associated with substance use and abuse, Dr. Liu will be responsible for using various behavioral rodent models to screen and evaluate the candidate vaccines. Dr. Liu earned her doctoral degree from Wake Forest University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the behavioral animal laboratory there in 2007. Dr. Kalayasiri will work with Robert T. Malison, M.D., and Joel Gelernter, M.D., Yale University School of Medicine, to discuss research projects on gene by environment interaction studies of methamphetamine-induced psychosis (MIP), potential collaborations with psychiatric genetics laboratories in the United States to analyze Thai DNA samples, quality control of the interview data in an ongoing investigation into the genetics of opioid dependence in Northern Thailand, and the possibility of a new, case-control study of opioid dependence. Preliminary data from Dr. Kalayasiri's current work on MIP show that a history of marijuana use, conduct disorder, exposure to frightening traumatic events, and poor childhood relationship with caregivers predict risk for MIP in dependent individuals. Severity of methamphetamine use (i.e., dependence and greater use, and earlier onset of use) was correlated with MIP. In 2006, Dr. Kalayasiri completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Yale Drug Dependence Genetics Research Training Program.

Former Humphrey Fellows Succeed upon Returning Home

  • Rehana Kader, a 2006-2007 Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), has received a scholarship from the Medical Research Council of South Africa (MRC) to complete a Ph.D. while working in the MRC Alcohol and Drug Research Unit. As a doctoral candidate at the University of Stellenbosch, Ms. Kader will investigate the relationship between substance use, misuse, and sexual HIV risk behavior among patients attending HIV clinics, developing and evaluating an intervention to improve the way in which substance use or misuse is addressed within HIV and AIDS treatment facilities. Her Humphrey Fellowship mentor, Dr. J. Randy Koch, VCU, is also the cosupervisor for Ms. Kader's doctoral studies. At MRC, Ms. Kader is working on projects to: (1) monitor the prevalence of methamphetamine-related presentations at psychiatric hospitals in Cape Town; (2) improve substance abuse treatment outcomes in South Africa by developing service quality metrics; and (3) develop an HIV Consumer Survey for South Africa.
  • Dr. Peter Kenneth Ndege, 2006-2007 Humphrey Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University, is now a Consultant Physician and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Policy Specialist at the Kenyan National Agency for the Campaign against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADAA).
  • Alamgir MD, 2006-2007 Humphrey Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, is Deputy Secretary in the Bangladeshi Ministry of Home Affairs.

NIDA Hosts Orientation for INVEST and Humphrey Fellows
A diverse group of 26 researchers, policymakers, and treatment providers from 22 nations visited NIDA to learn about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the public health perspective on drug abuse. Despite their diverse backgrounds and research interests, each individual was invited to a NIDA International Program orientation for Hubert H. Humphrey and NIDA INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellows, which was held on January 24-25, 2008. Representatives from NIDA Divisions, Programs, and Centers discussed the Institute's international research activities and funding priorities, before meeting with the Fellows individually or in small groups to discuss structuring future research projects and identifying potential collaborators. The Fellows also toured the National Library of Medicine and the Fogarty International Center on the NIH campus. INVEST Fellows spend 12 months conducting postdoctoral research with a NIDA grantee at a U.S. institution. Humphrey Fellows spend 10 months in mentored academic study as part of the U.S. Department of State Fulbright program; NIDA cosponsors the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships in Drug Abuse Research at Virginia Commonwealth University. Interested Humphrey Fellows from programs at Johns Hopkins University and Emory University also participated in the orientation.

Dr. Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E., Director, DESPR, presented on Trends in Drug Abuse: Urgent Problems for Physicians as an invited lecturer for the 120th Anniversary Symposium, Majidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, March 19, 2008.

Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, DPMCDA, spoke at the First International Symposium on Addiction Medicine: Neurobiology of Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs, held in San Jose, Costa Rica on February 28-29, 2008. His presentations were on the NIDA medications development program and Pharmacotherapy for Addictions: Status Update (co-presented with Dr. Ahmed Elkashef).

Drs. Ivan Montoya and Jag Khalsa, DPMCDA, participated in a two-day workshop at the National School of Public Health in Medellin, Colombia on March 5-6, 2008. They discussed research opportunities and funding at NIDA and drug abuse treatment evaluation.

Drs. Ivan Montoya and Jag Khalsa participated in the annual meeting of the Colombian College of Neuropsychopharmacology, in Bogota, Colombia on March 7-9, 2008. They lectured on the advances in the treatment of opioid addiction and the medical consequences of drug abuse.

Dr. Ivan Montoya gave the closing lecture of the annual meeting of the Society of Drug and Alcohol of Spain, in La Coruna on April 12, 2008. Dr. Marilyn Huestis, Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism, IRP, recently traveled to Beijing and Shanghai, China to present the impact of recent research findings on interpretations of drug test results in drug treatment, workplace and criminal justice programs. The Institute of Forensic Medicine of the Department of Internal Security in Beijing and the Institute of Forensic Sciences of the Department of Justice in Shanghai supported Dr. Huestis' travel. The importance of drug treatment, and toxicology research and analysis was discussed at meetings with the Deputy Ministers of Internal Security and Justice and other scientists from The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists. Dr. Huestis also met with researchers, post-graduate fellows and doctoral students at both institutions to discuss analytical issues and research projects.


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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