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

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

International Activities

NIDA-Sponsored Meetings

NIDA, Fogarty Sponsor International Effort to Build Inhalant Research Agenda
The NIDA International Program and the Fogarty International Center, together with the Canadian Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health and the Mexican Consejo Nacional Contra Las Addicciones (CONADIC), cosponsored the meeting Inhalant Abuse Among Children and Adolescents: Consultation on Building an International Research Agenda November 7-9, 2005, at the NIH Neuroscience Center in Rockville, Maryland. This meeting provided important updates on inhalant abuse research and highlighted the need to increase awareness about the issue among researchers, health care providers, and the general public. The following priority research areas emerged from the discussion: (1) standardizing and adapting existing surveillance methods to better measure the extent of inhalant abuse; (2) designing, implementing, and evaluating treatment and prevention interventions tailored to inhalant abuse; (3) expanding basic science studies to better understand the mechanisms of action of inhalants on young brains; and (4) separating the effects of precursors of inhalant abuse from the consequences of that abuse. Meeting participants expressed particular interest in qualitative research, longitudinal studies to compile data about subjects before they begin using inhalants, and research that explores chronic vs. episodic and isolated vs. communal use patterns. The participants recommended that an international workgroup of pharmacologists and epidemiologists be created to classify substances and develop questions for use in screening instruments and surveys, and that international communications be improved through tools such as listservs, Web portals, or Web-casts.

ROSITA Meeting Assesses Drugged Driving Research
NIDA Scientific Director, Dr. Barry Hoffer, opened the ROSITA 2 International Collaboration Meeting where U.S. and European Union scientists exchanged results on research assessing new detection devices for drugged drivers. Discussions focused on data collection issues and the legal requirements for sensitivity and specificity of roadside testing devices. The meeting, which was held December 5-6, 2005, in Baltimore, Maryland, was hosted by The Walsh Group in collaboration with NIDA. ROSITA is a collaborative effort between the United States and the European Union to identify the requirements for roadside testing equipment and assess roadside testing result validity, equipment reliability, practicality, and usage costs in four U.S. states and six European countries. The Walsh Group coordinates the U.S. effort and Dr. Alain Verstraete, University of Ghent, Belgium, coordinates the EU efforts. The project is supported by ONDCP, NIDA, NHTSA, and the European Union.

U.S. - Mexico Bi-National Research Symposium Explores Migration and Substance Use Disorders
NIDA supported the participation of three U.S. researchers at the Bi-National Research Symposium held during the U.S. - Mexico 6th Bi-National Drug Demand Reduction Conference, November 30 - December 1, 2005, in Mexico City, Mexico. Dr. Joshua Breslau, Harvard Medical School, discussed the impact of migration on substance use disorders along the Mexico-U.S. border using data from two surveys conducted as part of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative. The results suggest that migration is associated with increased risk of substance use disorders among Mexican populations on both sides of the border. Dr. Antonio Cepeda-Benito, Texas A&M University, and Chair, International Research Collaboration Committee, National Hispanic Science Network (NHSN) on Drug Abuse, described the subcommittee's functions, activities, and goals. He also reviewed issues related to substance abuse and Hispanics in the United States. Dr. Jane Maxwell, University of Texas, reported on the collaborative Border Epidemiology Work Group and presented data on treatment admissions, discussing similarities and differences in programs on both sides of the border and highlighting the risk of HIV/AIDS due to patterns of drug use in the cross-border treatment population. The Bi-National Research Symposium also featured a presentation by Dr. Carmen Lara, Mexican Institute of Psychiatry.

NIDA, National Hispanic Science Network Explore Latin American Regional Network to Exchange Data and Promote Research
As part of the September 2005 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference, NIDA Director, Dr. Nora Volkow, hosted a meeting for researchers from Latin America, NHSN officials, and NIDA staff to review research infrastructure, data gathering, and research capabilities in Latin American countries and explore the possible creation of an integrated regional network to facilitate information sharing and research. Presentations focused on methamphetamine abuse, the connections between HIV and drug abuse, and smoking. Presenters included: José Capece, Argentina; Mariano Montenegro Corona, Chile; Ximena Burbano, Colombia; Giselle Amador, Costa Rica; Maria-Elena Medina-Mora, Mexico; Marina Piazza-Ferrand, Peru; Miguel Angel Torres, Valenciana, Spain; Pedro Delgado, Venezuela; and Jose Francisco Cumsille, Organization of American States-CICAD.

NIDA Hosts Foresight Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs Project
Representatives from Foresight, the British government's science-based think tank, presented results from the group's Brain Science, Addiction, and Drugs Project at a NIDA Director's Seminar on September 26, 2005, at NIDA headquarters. The Brain Science, Addiction, and Drugs Project involved more than 50 experts to explore how future scientific and technological advances will affect our understanding of addiction and drug use. Presenters at the NIDA Director's Seminar included Dr. Trevor Robbins, Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, and Editor, Psychopharmacology; Dr. Gerry Stimson, Executive Director, International Harm Reduction Association, and Emeritus Professor of the Sociology of Health Behaviour, Imperial College London; and Mr. Andrew Jackson, Foresight Deputy Director. Foresight considered the implications of future advances in 15 areas of basic and social sciences, concluding that within the near future, scientists will better understand how the brain functions, which may help researchers develop: (1) revolutionary treatments for drug abuse, mental illness, or neurodegenerative diseases and (2) novel psychoactive drugs with fewer harms and lower risks of addiction than the substances currently available. Potential drug abuse treatment advances include new or improved behavioral therapies; cognitive therapies; vaccines; and pharmacotherapies that target glutamate neurotransmitters or neuropeptides, manage craving and relapse, improve cognitive function, or tailor therapeutic drugs to address specific genetic and environmental variables. Foresight predicted that the development of new ligands for key neurotransmitters, including serotonin, glutamate, and acetylcholine, could improve significantly the current understanding of brain operations. The Brain Science, Addiction, and Drugs Project also considered the implications these scientific advances will have on individuals, families, and communities and outlined strategic choices, opportunities, and challenges facing researchers, industry, and policymakers. The complete report is available on the Foresight Web page,

NIDA Hosts Poster Session at Society for Neuroscience Research Meeting
Drs. Susan Volman, DBNBR, and Steven W. Gust, IP, co-chaired an Early Career Investigators Poster Session on Friday, November 11, 2005, as part of NIDA's mini-convention on Frontiers in Addiction Research at the Society for Neuroscience Research meeting in Washington, D.C. The invited poster session showcased drug abuse and drug-related neuroscience research by: Victoria Eugenia Mendizábal, Argentina; Kelly J. Clemens, Australia; Isabel Marian Hartmann de Quadros and Sionaldo Ferreira, Brazil; Candace Contet and Marcello Solinas, France; Abraham Zangen, Israel; Michela Ferrucci, Silvana Gaetani, Gloria Lazzeri, Isabel Matias, and Raffaela Tonini, Italy; Bronwyn Kivell and Regan Wisnewski, New Zealand; Marina Rubio, Spain; Camilla Bellone, Switzerland; Y Hakan Dogan and Gorkem Yarabas, Turkey; and Christopher Bailey, Jonathan Lee, and Amy Milton, United Kingdom. The International poster presenters were supported, in part, by NIDA and the: International Union of Pharmacology, International Brain Research Organization, International Narcotics Research Conference, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, International Cannabinoid Research Society, and International Drug Abuse Research Society.

Research Training and Exchange Programs

Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awards (DISCA)
The 2005 NIDA Distinguished International Scientists have completed their research visits to the United States. The competitive DISCA 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. Luc Denoroy, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France, worked with Dr. Toni Shippenberg, IRP, to establish a research initiative combining Dr. Denoroy's technique to monitor rapid changes in the extracellular concentration of neurotransmitters with IRP animal studies using microdialysis and intravenous drug self-administration. The capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection (CE-LIFD) system was installed in the IRP Behavioral Neuroscience Branch, and two protocols were developed and validated to determine neurotransmitter levels in brain microdialysates. CE-LIFD permits the accurate and simultaneous measurement of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), glutamate, and aspartate in small-volume brain microdialysates. NIDA scientists now routinely use CE-LIFD for operant drug self-administration and other studies, and Dr. Denoroy's laboratory is using NIDA protocols to conduct microdialysis studies in the freely moving mouse. The NIDA and French researchers are continuing their collaboration, writing journal articles, sharing French technology to quantify neurotransmitters with NIDA scientists, and training French students in NIDA's behavioral analysis methods.
  • Dr. Min Zhao, Shanghai Mental Health Center, China, and Dr. Clyde B. McCoy, University of Miami, have filed an R01 research grant application to study gender differences of HIV risk behaviors among Chinese injection drug users (IDUs). The researchers propose a longitudinal study employing both qualitative and quantitative studies to explore the effects of gender on changes in HIV risk behaviors, identify the factors that contribute to HIV infection, and establish the prevalence and incidence of HIV and hepatitis infections in Shanghai. Drs. Zhao and McCoy also finalized plans to have the Shanghai Mental Health Center apply for the NIDA Research Center Grant Consolidated Program, which would allow the Shanghai institution to join the University of Miami's multi-country drug abuse and HIV/AIDS research center, where each participating research site designs, tests, adapts, and evaluates culturally appropriate, evidence-based HIV prevention strategies and drug abuse intervention efforts among IDUs. The research team also completed a scientific article that has been submitted for publication, and Dr. Zhao received certification in human subjects protections from the University of Miami's Collaborative IRB Training Initiative.

INVEST, Humphrey Fellows Meet NIDA Officials
NIDA hosted an orientation on Friday, October 28, 2005, for the 2005-2006 NIDA INVEST and Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows. The group met with Ms. Dale Weiss, IP; former NIDA Humphrey Fellow and Distinguished International Scientist Dr. Petra Exnerova, DESPR; and with program officers who work with the Fellows' U.S. mentors. The Fellows also toured the National Library of Medicine and the Fogarty International Center. The NIDA INVEST Fellows included Dr. Oscar Quintela, Spain, and Dr. Tsafrir Loebl, Israel. Dr. Quintela met with Dr. J. Michael Walsh, The Walsh Group, and Dr. Loebl met with Dr. Betty Tai, CCTN. Ten Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows from Johns Hopkins University participated in the NIDA orientation. Dr. Anna Tkachenko, Russia, and Ms. Nataliya Vlasova, Ukraine, met with Dr. Peter Hartsock, DESPR. Dr. Fadi Hammal, Syria, met with Dr. Allison Chausmer, DBNBR. Ms. Alexandra Hill, El Salvador, met with Ms. Ana Anders, NIDA Special Populations Office. Dr. Danesh Gupta, India, met with Dr. Larry Seitz, DESPR. Dr. Abdallah Mansour, Egypt, met with Dr. Ahmed Elkashef, DPMCDA. Dr. Stephen Nsimba, Tanzania, met with Dr. Jerry Flanzer, DESPR. Dr. Benjamin Oaikhena, Nigeria, met with Dr. Lois Cohen, Office of International Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Islam Miftari, Kosov, and Ms. Patricia Schmid, Brazil, met with Dr. Exnerova.

Humphrey Fellows Tour IRP
The 2005-2006 Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows toured the NIDA Intramural Research Program in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 4, 2005. The following IRP staff members met with the Fellows: Kenzie Preston, Ph.D., Chief, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch, overview of the IRP; Stephen Heishman, Ph.D., Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section, nicotine addiction; Marilyn Huestis, Ph.D., Chief, Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section, application of toxicology methods to research on cannabinoids, Ecstasy, and in-utero drug exposure; Eliot Stein, Ph.D., Chief, Neuroimaging Branch, MRI scanner; Alane Kimes, Ph.D., PET Center; Ron Herning, Molecular Neuropsychiatry Section, the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged drug abuse; Steven Goldberg, Ph.D., Chief, Preclinical Pharmacology Section, cannabinoid research; Eric Moolchan, M.D., Chief, Teen Tobacco Addiction Research Clinic; and David Epstein, Ph.D., Treatment Section, Archway Clinic, contingency management.

Travel and Meeting Support

  • IP Director Dr. Steven W. Gust participated in the Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, held September 21-24, 2005, in Lisbon, Portugal. While in Lisbon, Dr. Gust also met with colleagues at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  • NIDA provided travel support to Dr. Patricia Molina, University of Louisiana-New Orleans, for participation in the Congresso en Cordoba, held October 27-29, 2005, in Cordoba, Argentina.
  • NIDA provided travel support to Professor Filippo Drago, Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, University of Catania, Italy, to present his research, "The Endogenous Cannabinoid System and Its Possible Role in Psychiatric Disorders," at the IRP Seminar Series on November 1, 2005.

International Visitors

On November 14, 2005 a group of 10 participants in the U.S. Department of State, International Visitor Leadership Program visited NIDA as part of a multi-regional project in substance abuse education, treatment and prevention. The 10 countries represented include Burma, Canada, Germany, India, Iraq, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Serbia. Drs. Liz Ginexi, Richard Denisco and Ms. Gina Hijjawi of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research and Ms. Dale Weiss of the International Program met with the group.

Ms. Carmen Cecilia Villanueva Brach, General Coordinator for the United Nationals Office of Drugs and Crime Mexico International Relations visited NIDA on November 19, 2005. Dr. Steven Gust and Ms. Dale Weiss, NIDA International Program, met with Ms. Villanueva to discuss drug treatment work being done in Mexico and Central America.

As part of the U.S. - Netherlands Demand Reduction Exchange Meeting, NIDA hosted a visit of Netherlands researchers on December 8, 2005. The visit included a morning tour of the NIH campus and in the afternoon the delegation visited the NIDA offices for presentations and discussions. Attending for NIDA were Dr. Steven Gust, NIDA International Program, Drs. Elizabeth Robertson, Yonette Thomas, and Redonna Chandler, Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, and Cecelia McNamara Spitznas, Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research. The visitors from the Netherlands included J.A. Walburg and Maurice Galla, Trimbos Institute, Marcel de Kort, Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Maria Magdalena Riper, Center of Prevention and Brief Interventions, Margriet Van Laar, National Drug Monitor, Chistina M. van der Felitz-Cornelis, Programme for Diagnosis and Treatment, Andre Gageldonk, Senior Research Fellow, and Dirk Ruwaard, Netherland Embassy.

A group of visitors from the Netherlands organization De Hoop (The Hope) visited NIDA on December 12, 2005. The visitors included Teun Stortenbeker, managing director De Hoop, Leo van der Wild, treatment supervisor (executive) De Hoop, Leendert van den Brink, treatment coordinator (policy) De Hoop, Guy Thijskens, psychiatrist (in education) De Hoop, Frans Koopmans, staff worker communications De Hoop and Wouter van Twillert, Director Treatment Center Krusada, Bonaire (Netherlands Antilles). Attendees from NIDA included Drs. Beverly Pringle, Redonna Chandler, Dionne Jones, Richard Denisco and Eve Reider from the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, and Dr. Lisa Onken, Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research.

Dr. Wilson Compton, Director, DESPR, presented at the International Conference on Drug Epidemiology and Prevention, September 20-22, 2005, Taipei, Taiwan.

Dr. Wilson Compton met with participants in the international satellite session to the meeting of the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, Miami, Florida, September 13-16, 2005.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, gave a presentation to the Organization of American States substance abuse prevention subcommittee on September 12 in Ottawa, Canada. The title of her presentation was Measuring Outcomes: The Role of Attitudes in Predicting Drug Use Behaviors - A Cautionary Tale.

Moira O'Brien, DESPR, chaired the Border Epidemiology Work Group Meeting (BEWG), September 15-16, 2005, in San Antonio, Texas. Participants included representatives from the Mexican Ministry of Health, Mexican Institute of Psychiatry, National Council Against Drug Abuse Mexico and in 4 U.S. Border States.

Dr. Jag Khalsa, DPMCDA, presented a mini-symposium on Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders and Interventions in Drug Abusers Co-infected with HIV and HCV at the XIII World Psychiatry Congress, in Cairo, Egypt, September 10-15, 2005. Speakers (Dr. Adrian Dobs of JHU, Dr. Tim Flanigan of Brown University, Dr. Charles Hinkin of UCLA, and Christine Wanke of Tufts) presented current research findings on the subject. A brief summary of the symposium will be placed on NIDA's website.

Dr. Jag Khalsa, Dr. Jacques Normand, Director, Office on AIDS, Dr. Pat Needle, and the NIH OAR Staff presented an Indo-US Workshop on AIDS and Drug Abuse, New Delhi, India, October 27-30, 2005. NIDA/NIH supported researchers including Drs. Strathdee, Wanke, Flanigan and many others also exchanged current research with the Indian counterparts, fostered collaborations, and discussed ways to facilitate approval of research protocols by the respective approval authorities. The meeting was a great success. Dr. Normand will further brief the council.

Dr. Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA, was a guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Colombian Psychiatric Association, in Cartagena, Colombia. Dr. Ivan Montoya was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Italian Federation of Substance Abuse, in Palermo, Italy.

Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, DPMCDA, attended the World Psychiatric Association meeting in Cairo, Egypt from September 10-14, 2005. He presented on the Neurobiology of Marijuana at a symposium and chaired a symposium titled: Addiction is a Brain Disease: Implications for Treatment. At this symposium Dr. Richard Rawson spoke about Cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence; Dr. Bankole Johnson spoke about Alcohol dependence therapies, Dr. Ahmed Elkashef, DPMCDA, spoke about Pharmacotherapies for stimulant dependence, and Dr. Frank Vocci spoke about the Neurobiology of addiction.

Dr. Frank Vocci attended the Italian FederSerD meeting in Palermo, Sicily from November 30 through December 2, 2005. He presented on Addiction and action mechanisms relating to cocaine addiction.

On November 3, 2005, Dr. Peter Hartsock met with NIDA Russian grantees, the Russian Attaché for Science and Health, and representatives from NIAID, Fogarty, and NIH/OAR in Washington, D.C., to discuss planning for the next G-8 Summit, to be held for the first time in Russia. Public health, especially related to drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, is expected to play a larger role than at any previous G summits.

Dr. Peter Hartsock met with Humphrey Fellows Dr. Nataliya Vlasova from Ukraine and Dr. Anna Tkachenko from Russia as part of the Humphrey Fellows Orientation Program, in Bethesda, MD, on October 28, 2005.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated with members of the Department of Justice and Department of Defense in a meeting at the German Embassy dealing with narco-terrorism, in Washington, D.C., on November 2, 2005.


Research Findings

Program Activities

Extramural Policy and Review Activities

Congressional Affairs

International Activities

Meetings and Conferences

Media and Education Activities

Planned Meetings


Staff Highlights

Grantee Honors

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