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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

May, 1997


International Activities


NIDA Director, Dr. Alan I. Leshner traveled to Hong Kong in late January 1997 to deliver the keynote speech at the 2nd International Conference on Drug Abuse: Biopsychosocial Perspectives hosted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The topic of his presentation was "Drug Abuse Research: Building International Partnerships".


Dr. Jean-Lud Cadet, IRP, presented Induction of Bclxs and Bclxl by METH in Immortalized Neural Cells and Dr. Tsung-Ping Su, also of IRP, presented Novel Actions of Delta Opioid Peptide DADLE at the 2nd International Conference on Drug Abuse in Shatin Town Hall, Shatin, N.T. Hong Kong, January 26-30, 1997.


On February 5, 1997 NIDA Deputy Director Richard A. Millstein presented a report on recent NIDA collaborative activities in the area of drug abuse prevention since June 1996 with Russia at the 5th Gore-Chernomyrdin Health Committee Meeting held at NIH. Because of rapidly emerging problems with drug use and health consequences such as HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis, Russia requested the addition of drug abuse research as an area of bilateral cooperation under the health agreement. Mr. Millstein reported on activities such as the exchange of letters between NIDA and the Pavlov State Medical University for scientific collaboration and exchange in the fields of biomedical and behavioral research; exchange visits to NIDA grantees for proposal preparation; and participation in international meetings.


Dr. Rachel Bar-Hamburger, Director of Research for the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, made a study visit to NIDA from February 21 through March 4, 1997. During her stay, Dr. Bar-Hamburger visited with the NIDA director, division directors, the Intramural Research Program and many staff to gain a broad understanding of the Institute's organization, functions, mission and research priorities.


On March 7, 1997 the review committee for the NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowship met to select Fellows for the 1997-98 academic year. Four prospective Fellows -from Hungary, India, Nigeria, and Ukraine -were selected to participate in the program at Johns Hopkins University. This NIDA-supported portion of the Humphrey Program includes a six-week or longer professional affiliation with a NIDA grantee to design a research proposal for implementation in the Fellow's home country.


Dr. Jörn Sonnenburg of the German Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology (BMBF) visited Dr. M. Patricia Needle, Acting Director, International Program, on March 25, 1997 to discuss follow up to the November 1966 seminar, a progress review of projects funded by BMBF to initiate addiction research as a new area of study in Germany. The BMBF Advisory Board will meet in April to review guidelines and further funding.


During April 1997 Dr. M. Patricia Needle attended the conference of the American Methadone Treatment Association in Chicago to chair a session with international methadone researchers.


Dr. Needle also participated in the Latin American regional conference of the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities to plan with the Scientific Committee for a NIDA workshop at the forthcoming World Congress in 1998.


NIDA's International Program has recently arranged presentations by Institute staff for eight groups of international visitors. These include 5 groups representing 15 countries sponsored by the United States Information Agency, and 3 private groups from Japan and Israel.


Dr. Barry Hoffer, Scientific Director, traveled to Sweden and Taiwan during 1996 for continued collaboration with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the National Defense Medical Center in Taipei. The cooperation with Sweden involves studies on spinal cord regeneration and Parkinson's Disease. In Taiwan, Dr. Hoffer is collaborating on research related to cerebral ischemia and stroke.


NIDA researchers have submitted a total of 12 grant applications, 10 extramural and 2 intramural, to the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) for support for collaborative research with Russia. The First U.S.-Russian Conference on Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases (EREIDs) was held in December 1996 in St. Petersburg with support from the CRDF. Dr. Peter Hartsock, Community Research Branch, DEPR, collaborated with colleagues at NIAID, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, the Fogarty International Center, and the Russian Ministries of Science and Health in organizing the conference. The meeting received recognition by the PHS Office of International Health as part of the Gore-Chernomyrdin initiatives for U.S Russian health cooperation, and as part of the June 1996 Presidential Decision Directive on EREIDs.


Dr. Peter Hartsock also participated in the World Health Day activities on April 7, 1997. Sponsored by the World Health Organization, its focus this year is "Emerging Infectious Diseases: Reduce the Risk." The World Health Day was held at the Pan American Health Organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Dr. Hartsock gave a presentation on U.S.-Russian collaborative research efforts in emerging and reemerging infectious diseases (EREIDs) and on NIDA's work on EREIDs.


Dr. Zili Sloboda of DEPR gave a keynote presentation at the First European Conference on the Evaluation of Drug Prevention sponsored by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction held in Lisbon, Portugal on March 12-15, 1997. The topic of her presentation was: State of the Art of Prevention Science in the United States.


Moira O'Brien, Epidemiology Research Branch, DEPR, participated in the Pan American Health Organization Annual Epidemiology Meeting which was held in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 12 14, 1997.


Dr. Jack Blaine, Chief, Treatment Research Branch, DCSR participated in a workshop on Alternative Nicotine Delivery Systems in Toronto, Canada March 21-23, 1997. The workshop was sponsored by the Addiction Research Foundation, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit of the Center for Health Promotion, University of Toronto. International experts on tobacco and nicotine presented and discussed current scientific knowledge and developed information useful for making policy recommendations based on the workshop.


Dr. Chiiko Asanuma of the Etiology and Clinical Neurobiology Branch, Division of Clinical and Services Research, was an invited speaker at the COE International Symposium on Brainstem Control of Sensorimotor Systems: Behavioral Aspects. The symposium covered a broad range of topics that included Sleep/Wake Regulating Systems, Thalamocortical Functions, and Neural Plasticity, and was held from March 23 through March 26, 1997 at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Okazaki, Japan.


Mr. Nicholas Kozel (DEPR) co-chaired a joint meeting of the East and South Asian Multi-City Epidemiology Work Group meeting held in Langkawi, Malaysia on November 10-14, 1996. The East and South Asian Work Groups are composed of researchers from Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey. This is one of a series of regional programs being developed to provide assessment and surveillance of drug abuse with the objective of integrating these regional data into a global perspective. The project is jointly funded by the U.S. Department of State and the Commonwealth Secretariat and is coordinated by staff of NIDA and the Universiti Sains Malaysia. Although indirect indicators and other measures of drug abuse are under development in the various countries of the region, current sources of information show that the primary drugs of abuse include: inhalants which is a region wide problem, especially among youth; cannabis and heroin which are serious problems in most of the countries in East and South Asia; buprenorphine which has recently emerged as a serious problem in several of the countries of South Asia; abuse of amphetamines and methamphetamines in the countries of Thailand, the Phillipines and Cambodia; and polydrug abuse, particularly with codeine, tranquilizers and sedative-hypnotics. In addition, "ecstasy" is appearing in several countries of the region.


Mr. Nicholas Kozel, DEPR, participated in the Inter-American Drug Abuse Data System (SIDUC) meeting held in Mexico City on February 12-14. SIDUC is a drug abuse epidemiologic surveillance program being implemented by the Organization of American States with the objective of establishing a uniform system of drug abuse indicator data collection in all of the countries of the Americas. The program is in the initial stages of constructing and pilot testing a data collection instrument in selected countries. A preliminary report is due in October 1997.


Mr. Nicholas Kozel, DEPR, participated in the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Abuse (SACENDU) in Cape Town, South Africa on February 26-27, 1997. SACENDU is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is in the preliminary stages of developing a multi-city drug abuse surveillance program in the country based on epidemiologic and ethnographic data. South African participants reported that historically, the most serious substance abuse problem in the country has involved alcohol, cannabis and Mandrax. Recently, new drugs have appeared including heroin, cocaine, LSD and ecstasy.


WHO officials have expressed interest in supporting the participation of several other countries from southern Africa in SACENDU with the prospect of establishing a regional epidemiologic surveillance program.


In March 1997, Sari Izenwasser, IRP, presented a lecture entitled Mechanisms of Cocaine Addiction to the Department of Pharmacology, Yonsei University College of Medicine in Korea.


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