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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

September, 2000


International Activities


Scientists from 17 countries participated in the fifth NIDA International Forum, Building International Research on Drug Abuse: Drug Abuse Treatment in the New Millennium, convened from June 15-17, 2000, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, immediately before the Annual Scientific Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. Throughout the NIDA forum, participants discussed the implications for drug abuse treatment of advances in basic science, epidemiology and prevention, and pharmacological and behavioral treatment research. In addition to 20 oral research presentations, 18 scientists presented their research results during poster sessions. Presenters from NIDA included Dr. Frank Vocci and Dr. Betty Tai, DTR&D, who discussed the basic science of addiction and the Clinical Trials Network respectively (see Summer 2000 INVEST Letter for more detail about the meeting).

NIDA sponsored a one-day pre-conference on May 30, 2000, as part of the Third U.S.-Mexico Bi-national Drug Demand Reduction Conference, to focus on the recommendations of the research work groups from the two previous bi-national conferences and to define potential collaborative research projects. The morning session included research information sessions by Mexican and United States drug abuse scientists, followed by afternoon work groups on epidemiology and prevention, drug abuse treatment, and basic science. Meeting recommendations for building the bi-national research cooperation included: 1) access to a bi-national website and/or listserv; 2) research pre-conference again in 2001 with scientific presentations that feature U.S.-Mexico collaborations; and 3) establish a program of research cooperation. Key presenters at the meeting included Dr. Mary Jane Kreek, Rockefeller University; Dr. Silvia Cruz, former INVEST Fellow and Researcher for CINVESTAV; Dr. Richard Needle, CAMCODA; Ms. Haydee Rosovsky, Mexican National Council Against Addiction (CONADIC); Dr. Judith Brook, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine; and Dr. Luciana Ramos, Mexican Institute of Psychiatry. On June 1, 2000, Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Associate Director, NIDA, presented at the conference plenary session: "Challenges and Opportunities in Drug Demand Reduction: What We Have Learned from Research".

Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Associate Director, NIDA, accompanied General Barry McCaffrey and others to China and Thailand for the Southeast Asia Regional Counternarcotics Conference to promote regional information sharing, provide regional updates on heroin and methamphetamine trafficking, provide U.S. policy guidance, promote regional team building and to examine the "road ahead". Dr. Condon delivered a presentation entitled "Challenges and Opportunities in Drug Demand Reduction," in Bangkok, Thailand on June 16, 2000.

On July 21, 2000, NIDA hosted a delegation from Hong Kong led by Mrs. Clarie Lo, Commissioner for Narcotics, and including Mr. Ng Kam Wing, Hong Kong Police Force Narcotics Bureau, and Mr. Benjamin Weber of the Department of State. Drs. Alan Leshner, Director, NIDA; Timothy Condon, Associate Director, NIDA; Frank Vocci, DTR&D; and Patricia Needle, OSPC, presented an overview of NIDA research findings related to U.S. trends in drug use, particularly methamphetamine and club drugs; and the Clinical Trials Network. The meeting concluded with discussion of areas of potential cooperation, and exchange of research and program information.

Three researchers have been awarded NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships for 2000-2001: Dr. Olga Vassioutina, Russia; Dr. Vedran Mardesic, Croatia; and Ms. Elvia Amesty de Torres, Venezuela. 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.

Two scientists have been selected as INVEST Research Fellows for 2000-2001: Dr. Henrik Druid, Sweden, and Dr. Chuang Liu, China. During his Fellowship, Dr. Druid will study the neurochemical mechanisms involved in the deaths of chronic cocaine abusers in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the causes and risk factors of sudden death. He hopes to conduct similar studies with methamphetamine abusers upon his return to Sweden. He will spend his Fellowship working with Dr. Deborah C. Mash, University of Miami School of Medicine. Dr. Liu's INVEST Fellowship research will employ functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine the neuroanatomical sites activated during cue-induced nicotine craving and to examine the effective mechanisms underlying the craving response in humans. The study results may then be used to develop behavioral and pharmacological interventions for nicotine abuse. Dr. Liu will spend his Fellowship working with Dr. Elliott A. Stein, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Dr. James Colliver, DESPR, and Dr. Charles Sharp, DNBR, met with Dr. Kultegin Ogel of the Bakirkoy State Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, regarding collection of data on adolescents' abuse of inhalants. Dr. Ogel's visit was part of his CPDD Traveling Fellowship. While at NIDA, Dr. Ogel also discussed plans for a forthcoming Turkey-U.S. bi-national meeting with Dr. Patricia Needle.

Moira O'Brien, DESPR, served as U.S. representative to the Council of Europe's 30th Meeting of the Group of Experts in Epidemiology of Drug Problems (Pompidou Group), May 22-23, 2000, Strasbourg, France, and gave a presentation on, "Drug Abuse Trends in the U.S. and NIDA Activities."

On July 24, 2000, Dr. Patricia Needle, Director, International Program, OSPC and Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, met with Mr. Lkhaasuren Azbayar, Executive Director of the Mongolian Association to Protect the Population from Narcotics. They presented an overview of NIDA's international work and the current status of prevention research. The Mongolian Association is seeking support for training drug abuse professionals to address this emerging problem in their country.

Drs. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, Vince Smeriglio, CAMCODA, and Patricia Needle, in conjunction with Silvia Kniel of the Fogarty International Center, met with a delegation from Kazakhstan on May 19, 2000. Research findings on drug abuse and HIV prevention and the medical consequences of drug abuse were discussed.

Ms. Daphne Nelson, Director of Projects at the National Council on Drug Abuse of Jamaica, visited NIDA on May 9, 2000. Dr. Elizabeth Robertson presented information on research-based drug abuse prevention programs for schools and communities. Dr. Patricia Needle shared information on NIDA's research program, information dissemination, and fellowship programs.

Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, DTR&D, attended a workshop on Illicit Opiate Addiction held May 31 to June 3, 2000 where he presented a review of "Current Medication and Treatment Developments for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction in the US: A View from NIDA" in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Frank Vocci was invited by the Amsterdam congress to be the leading speaker at a conference on the Pharmacotherapy of Opiate Addiction held June 7-8, 2000. Dr. Vocci presented the evidence-based research as to the efficacy and cost effectiveness of methadone as a treatment for opiate addiction.

Dr. Peter Hartsock served on the organizing committee of the 8th International Conference on AIDS, Cancer, and Related Problems, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 2000. This conference was supported by the Russian Ministry of Science, the NIH Fogarty International Center and other organizations and included participation by the President of the International AIDS Society and NIDA grantees from Yale University and Johns Hopkins University among others. Additionally, Dr. Hartsock co-organized and co-chaired the conference's special session on drug abuse and AIDS. Dr. Hartsock also met with the Russian Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia in May 2000 to discuss plans for a special conference dealing with AIDS at the Academy in 2001.

Prior to the 13th International AIDS Meeting in Durban, South Africa, a consortium of international organizations sponsored the third annual Global Research Network (GRN) Meeting on HIV Prevention in Drug-Using Populations. NIDA had a pivotal role in creating the GRN and in supporting its continuation. The agenda for this meeting, held on July 5-7, 2000, was designed to facilitate the global diffusion and application of research-based principles on effective HIV prevention strategies for populations of injecting and non-injecting drug users around the world. The objectives of the meeting included exchanging empirically-based quantitative and qualitative research data on drug users and HIV prevention; to promote the global diffusion and application of empirically-based research findings on drug users and HIV prevention; to increase cross-national, regional and country research and international collaborations; to discuss HIV prevention among users of drugs in different countries, with a focus on Africa; and to explore other health conditions and consequences of drug use. NIDA was one of 11 co-sponsoring organizations hosting the meeting, attended by 80 HIV prevention researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and service providers (representing approximately 30 countries, worldwide). Dr. Henry Francis, Dr. Richard Needle, Helen Cesari, and Elizabeth Lambert of CAMCODA were members of the planning committee.

NIDA (CAMCODA, DESPR, and the Special Populations Office) co-sponsored a meeting entitled "Substance Abuse, Crime, Violence and HIV/AIDS as Consequences of Poverty: Prevention, Intervention and Treatment in the U.S. and South Africa," that was held in Cape Town, South Africa, July 1-5, 2000. The meeting was convened by the Center for Drug Abuse Research at Howard University, the Department of Corrections and the Medical Research Council of South Africa. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together leading black researchers and practitioners from the U.S. and South Africa to present relevant research and devise a plan to develop common strategies for addressing the common problem of poverty and its devastating consequences. The meeting was attended by several high ranking elected South African officials, academicians and health officials, as well as faculty from U.S. institutions and staff from sponsoring agencies. The meeting was organized such that each day focused on one topic reflected in the meeting title. Dr. Alan Leshner gave a keynote address and the following staff made presentations and facilitated small group discussions: Dr. Lula Beatty, OD, Dr. Leslie Cooper, DESPR, Dr. Dionne Jones, CAMCODA, and Mr. Arnold Mills, DESPR.

Mr. Richard Millstein, NIDA Deputy Director, accompanied by Dr. Patricia Needle and Dr. Stephen Zukin, DTR&D, met with Drs. Ghodse and Schaepe, Secretary and Vice Secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board, in a wide ranging discussion of recent NIDA research findings on drugs of abuse, with a focus on new opiate medications, GHB and Ritalin, July 24, 2000.

Dr. Rebekah Rasooly, DNBR, attended the Second International Meeting on Microarray Data Standards, Annotations, Ontologies and Databases at the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ)--the German Cancer Research Center and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) held in May 2000 in Heidelberg, Germany. The purpose of the meeting was to continue international efforts to standardize data reporting from genetic microarrays, an important new type of experimentation.

NIDA postdoctoral fellow Dr. Ricardo Gomez-Flores, working on a project on cellular and molecular mechanisms of opioid action with his sponsor, Dr. Richard J. Weber, has become the first participant in a collaboration of the University of Illinois with the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (UANL) in Monterrey, Mexico.

Dr. Betty Tai, DTR&D, presented an overview of the Clinical Trials Network at the NIDA International Forum held on June 17, 2000, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, helped organize and co-chaired a symposium on "Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychiatric Research" at the World Psychiatric Association international congress in Paris, France, June 27, 2000. He also presented a paper on "Ethical Issues in Substance Abuse Research" at the symposium.

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, helped organize and co-chaired a symposium on "Functional Neuroimaging in Psychiatry" at the World Psychiatric Association international congress in Paris, France, June 28, 2000. He also presented a paper on "Brain Mu-Opiate Receptor Function in Cocaine Addicts" at the symposium.

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, presented two posters at the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 5, 2000: "Coping with Marijuana Quitting and Withdrawal" and "Brain Mu-Opiate Receptor Binding in Chronic Cocaine Users."

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, presented a seminar on "Coping with Marijuana Quitting and Withdrawal" at the National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, London, England, July 7, 2000.

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, presented a poster on "Brain Mu-Opiate Receptor Function in Cocaine Addicts" at the Collegium International Neuropsychopharmacologicum biennial meeting in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2000.

Dr. Stephen Heishman, IRP, organized and chaired a symposium entitled, "Clinical Issues in Cannabis Use" at the World Psychiatric Association International Congress in Paris, France, June 27, 2000. He also presented a paper, "Cannabis Craving: Assessment and Quantification," at the symposium.

Dr. Monique Ernst, IRP, chaired the symposium entitled "Functional Neuroimaging in Psychiatry" and participated in the "Ethical Issues in Clinical Psychiatric Research" at the International Jubilee Congress entitled "From Clinical Practice to Research: Rethinking Psychiatry", June 26-30, 2000, Paris, France.

Dr. George Uhl presented "Molecular Mechanisms of Cocaine Action: Single and Multiple Transporter Knockouts" at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 18-22, 2000.

Scott Hall, IRP, presented "Dopamine and Vesicular Monoamine Transporter2: Roles in Cocaine and Amphetamine Actions," at the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum meeting in Brussels in July 2000.


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