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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

September, 1998


International Activities


On June 8-10, Dr. Alan Leshner, Director, NIDA, was part of the official U.S. delegation for the United Nations General Assembly Session on Drug Abuse in New York which featured approval by 150 nations for international coordination of demand reduction. The Special Session included speeches by heads of state and leading government officials of 47 nations.

Drs. Patricia Needle, International Office, Robert Battjes, DCSR, and Peter Hartsock, DEPR, attended the Sixth International Conference on AIDS, Cancers and Related Problems in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 18-22, 1998. In conjunction with the Conference, NIDA staff participated in the Second Annual Russia-US Workshop, "Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases," co-organized and chaired by Drs. A.P. Kozlov, Biomedical Center, Research Institute of Pure Biochemicals, St. Petersburg, Karl Western, NIAID, and Peter Hartsock, which provided an opportunity for Russian scientists to explore funding opportunities with participating NIH staff. While in St. Petersburg, Drs. Needle and Battjes also met with Dr. Edwin Zvartau, Pavlov State Medical University, St. Petersburg, and several HIV prevention researchers regarding planning for the upcoming U.S.-Russian Conference on Drug Abuse and HIV Prevention, planned for Spring 1999.

NIDA hosted an international satellite meeting on Building International Research on Drug Abuse: Global Focus on Youth at the June Annual Scientific Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. More than 70 people from 25 countries participated. The keynote address was presented by Dr. Andrew Ball of the Programme on Substance Abuse, World Health Organization (WHO), who reported on findings from the 20-nation WHO Street Children Project. Dr. Michael Clatts, National Development and Research Institutes, New York, provided an overview of research on homeless youth in the United States, with particular emphasis on New York City. In addition, the meeting featured panel discussions on trends in drug use and methodology for research with children and youth, and discussion groups focused on publishing in peer-reviewed journals, NIH research guidelines, funding mechanisms and preparation of successful grant applications.

NIDA has selected two INVEST research fellows for 1998-99. They are Dr. You Wan of the Beijing Medical University, Beijing, China, and Dr. Neo Morojele of the Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa. Dr. Wan will conduct research on the biological mechanisms underlying acupuncture analgesia at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Dr. Morojele will conduct epidemiological research on the etiology of drug abuse at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Dr. Elizabeth Rahdert, DCSR, participated in the 14th International Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 2-6, 1998. She chaired a symposium presented by NIDA-supported researchers Drs. James Hall, Judith Landau, William Latimer, Paula Riggs and Paul Marques.

NIDA, the NIH's Office of AIDS Research, the World Health Organization/Programme on Substance Abuse (WHO/PSA), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS teamed together in sponsoring the inaugural meeting of the Global Research Network on HIV Prevention in Drug-Using Populations, held June 25-26, 1998 in Geneva, Switzerland, just prior to the 1998 World AIDS Conference. The meeting represented the first step toward the long-term goal of establishing a self-sustaining global communications infrastructure for rapid international communication, dissemination, and utilization of HIV/AIDS epidemiology and prevention research information, including the exchange and interpretation of research findings from intervention studies with drug-using populations at high risk for HIV and other blood-borne diseases; the translation and dissemination of research findings on prevention principles and practices which slow the rate of spread of HIV; and the development of new cross-national, collaborative research efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and other infections among drug users. The international participants at the meeting represented more than 25 countries and every region of the world. Dr. Richard H. Needle, Chief of NIDA's Community Research Branch, took the lead in planning, organizing, and chairing the inaugural meeting. Also participating in the meeting for NIDA were Dr. Zili Sloboda and Helen Cesari, DEPR, and Patricia Needle, NIDA International Program.

Mr. Nicholas Kozel, DEPR, co-chaired a joint meeting of the East and South Asian Multi-City Epidemiology Work Group meeting held in Penang, Malaysia on May 4-7, 1998. Researchers from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka participated in the meeting and reported on patterns and trends of drug abuse in their countries and on emerging problems and related issues. Major drugs of abuse include: opium smoking and injection, heroin injection and ‘chasing the dragon', buprenorphine injection, cannabis smoking, inhalation of volatile substances, and the recent and substantial emergence of methamphetamine, MDMA and ketamine abuse in a number of countries in the region.

Ms. Ann Blanken, Deputy Director, DEPR, represented NIDA at the 28th meeting of the Pompidou Group of substance abuse epidemiologists June 8-9, 1998 at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. She presented information on recent drug use trends in the United States and on NIDA conferences addressing changing patterns of drug abuse in the United States. The Pompidou Group includes representatives from cities in nations in the European Union, Eastern bloc countries of the former soviet Union, and selected other locations.

Mr. Richard A. Millstein, NIDA Deputy Director, met with Mr. Herbert Barnard, Counselor for Health of the Netherlands Embassy, on collaborative health research on June 5, 1998.

On May 19, 1998 Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DEPR, met with Widar Andersson, Member of Parliament, Sweden, to discuss prevention interventions in the United States and Sweden.

On July 5, 1998, Drs. Patricia Needle, International Program, and Elizabeth Robertson, DEPR, met with Mr. Spencer Sui Hong So, Director of the Community Drug Advisory Council in Hong Kong for an overview of NIDA organization and research and to discuss prevention issues in the United States, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and China. Dr. Meyer Glantz met with several members of Britain's Home Office to consult on issues related to the establishment of Britain's drug abuse and prevention research program.

In a collaboration with Dr. Lars Olson at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, Drs. Barry J. Hoffer, Marisela Morales and Ms. Arezou Sarabi, NIDA IRP, are studying the regulation of GDNF and GDNF receptor gene expression in the brain. This will have therapeutic implications for treatment of Parkinson's Disease.

In a collaboration with Dr. S. Lin, Chairman of the Neurosurgery Dept. of the National Defense Medical Center (NDMC) in Taiwan, Drs. Barry J. Hoffer and Yun Wang, NIDA IRP, are studying trophic factors of the TGF_ superfamily as therapeutic agents for ischemic brain injury.

Drs. Svetlana Chefer, Barry Hoffer, and Jean Lud Cadet presented at the 12th General Meeting of the European Society for Neurochemistry, St. Petersburg, Russia, July 19-24, 1998. Dr. Chefer presented a paper on nicotinic and dopamine receptors in monkey brain. Drs. Hoffer and Cadet participated in the NIDA-sponsored colloquium on the Neurochemistry of Drug Abuse along with NIDA extramural researchers. Dr. Cadet presented his research on the neurodegenerative effects of methamphetamine.

Dr. David A. Gorelick, Pharmacology Section, Treatment Research Branch, presented papers entitled "Characteristics of Marijuana Users Presenting to an Urban Hospital Emergency Department" and "Marijuana Dependence Among Inpatients at a Regional Trauma Center" at the 1998 Symposium on the Cannabinoids of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, La Grande Motte, France, July 23-25, 1998.

Dr. Jag Khalsa of the Center for AIDS and Other Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse, was invited to co-chair a pre-conference satellite symposium entitled Update on Wasting, Metabolism, and Altered Body Shape in HIV/AIDS, held at the 12th World AIDS Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, June 28, 1998. This symposium was a tri-partite collaborative effort of researchers from drug industry (Sorono Labs and Bristol Meyers), academia (Tufts University School of Medicine) and the National Institutes of Health (NIDA and NIDDK) on this important topic of AIDS Wasting, in an international forum. Dr. Khalsa also moderated a session on Nutritional Considerations where the speakers discussed the role of macro- and micronutrients in HIV/AIDS disease progression in drug abusers.

Dr. Tsung-Ping Su, Cellular Pathobiology Unit, IRP, presented a lecture at the XXIst Congress of the Collegium Internationale NeuroPsychopharmacologicum (CINP) held July 12-16, 1998 in Glasgow, Scotland. Dr. Su's talk entitled "Sigma Receptors and Intracellular Calcium Signaling" was part of the symposium "Sigma Receptors: From Cloning to Their Clinical Importance".

Dr. Tsruo Hayashi, Cellular Pathobiology Unit, IRP, presented an award-winning poster entitled "Sigma1 Receptor Ligands Modulate Intracellular Calcium Mobilization in NG-108 Cells" at the XXIst Congress of the Collegium Internationale NeuroPsychopharmacologicum (CINP) held July 12-16, 1998 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Dr. Tsung-Ping Su of the IRP was invited by the world-reknown neurosteroid researcher Professor Etienne-Emile Baulieu of the French INSERM at Institut National de la Sante, et de la Recherche Medicale, Paris, France, to present a seminar on July 17, 1998, entitled "Sigma Receptors Regulated Calcium Signaling on the Endoplasmic Reticulum and Plasma Membrane in NG-108 Cells".

On July 25, 1998, Dr. Tsung-Ping Su of the IRP was chosen by the International Narcotic Research Conference (INRC), to participate in a symposium entitled "Opioids in Development and Apoptosis" and present a talk entitled "Delta Opioid DADLE Blocks Dopamine Transporter (DAT) Loss and p53 mRNA Increase Induced by Methamphetamine (METH): By Acting as a Free Radical Scavenger?" at Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany.

Dr. Svetlana Chefer, IRP, presented a paper on nicotinic and dopamine receptors in monkey brain at the 12th General Meeting of the European Society for Neurochemistry held in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 19-24, 1998.

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, Clinical Director of the IRP, recently attended the meeting of the European Society for Neurochemistry in St. Petersburg, Russia. There, he presented data on the effects of methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity. This was contrasted to the neurotoxic effects of dopamine which was shown by Dr. Cadet's group to cause apoptosis. These data support the idea that methamphetamine is causing its effects through the increase release of dopamine in the brain.


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