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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > February, 2008 Index    

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

Media and Education Activities

NIDA and NIAAA have been honored with the prestigious Governors Award by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for their contribution to HBO's Addiction Project. This is the first time that NIH institutes have received a primetime Emmy award. "Addiction" is a 14-part documentary television series and multimedia initiative revealing the science of addiction, its treatment, recovery, and its costs to families and society. A diverse group of people who were battling alcohol or drug addiction were featured, as well as addiction experts from around the country. The celebrated Governors Award is the Television Academy's highest honor and is given to individuals or organizations committed to important social causes. HBO developed the series, which includes the documentary, independent films, and a Website, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

NIDA has once again revised and reprinted our popular publication The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction. This in depth standards-based curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of neurobiology, including how drugs of abuse change the brain and that drug addiction is a treatable, chronic brain disease. It is designed for teachers to use with high school students and includes 5 lessons that can be used for a weeks worth of lessons or spread out over several weeks. First developed in 2000, this is the third printing.

The first Drug Facts Chat Day, organized by a core group from the Public Information & Liaison Branch with the help of the Science Policy Branch (both in OSPC), took place on October 12, 2007. Some 40 program experts and science writers representing offices and divisions across NIDA responded to 600 questions from students in high schools nationwide. More than 35,000 questions came from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam, extending NIDA's reach to a key audience with science-based messages about drug abuse and addiction. The transcript of answered questions is available at

NIDA Director, Dr. Nora D. Volkow spoke to a group of high school students at The High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College about the science of addiction. The dynamic informal discussion was held at the school with over 100 students and counselors. Dr. Volkow was able to hear their candid remarks and concerns and answer questions that ranged from substance abuse during pregnancy, to public policy. Dr. Carl Hart, Associate Professor and Neuroscientist from Columbia University moderated. For two hours, Dr. Volkow sustained a thoughtful, lively, and provocative exchange about drug abuse and brain imaging research.

Dr. Nora D. Volkow spoke at the 92nd Street Y's Science and Discovery Series in New York City on November 19, 2007. This lecture series features engaging, candid and provocative discussions with the world's most dynamic and compelling leaders, newsmakers, and visionaries. Dr. Volkow discussed the science of addiction, as well as her innovative, new approaches to prevent and treat substance abuse.

Brian Marquis, OSPC, presented "NIDA Goes Back to School" a workshop at the National Middle School Association Annual Conference in Houston, TX on November 9, 2007. Session attendees learned about the campaign and its variety of K-12 science based educational materials about the consequences of drugs abuse on the brain and body. He promoted the new Brain Power series for Middle School children and other appropriate materials.

Dr. Vivian Faden, Deputy Director, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research (DEPR) at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) presented the CCTN Classroom Series on November 8, 2007. Dr. Faden presented NIAAA's Underage Drinking Research Initiative and discussed the science underlying their thinking and approach to the initiative. She also talked about specific accomplishments of the initiative including their work on the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.

Dr. Bryce Reeve, Psychometrician and Program Director of the Outcomes Research Branch at NCI discussed the NIH roadmap initiative "PROMIS" - Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System. He presented: Item Banking & PROMIS: Advancing the Science of Patient-Reported Outcomes Assessment in Clinical Trials.

Press Releases

December 13, 2007 - Early Fine-tuning of Neural Connections May Turn Destructive Later in Life. The immune system helps to prune excess connections between neurons in the developing brains of young mice, according to scientists funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The study, published in the December 14, 2007 issue of the journal Cell, sheds critical new light upon a fundamental process, while hinting at a likely mechanism behind neurodegenerative diseases like glaucoma and Alzheimer's disease.

December 11, 2007 - NIDA Survey Shows a Decline in Smoking and Illicit Drug Use Among Eighth Graders. The nation's eighth graders took center stage in the 2007 Monitoring the Future survey, showing a significant decline in both smoking and illicit drug use in the past year, part of a downward trend for all measured age groups in the last decade. In addition, eighth graders showed a substantial long-term decline in past-year alcohol use, down to 31.8 percent from its recent peak of 46.8 percent in 1994. The Monitoring the Future project--now in its 33rd year--is a series of independent surveys of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Results from the 2007 survey were announced at a news conference at the White House.

November 27, 2007 - NIDA Announces New Avant-Garde Award for Innovative AIDS Research. The National Institute on Drug Abuse announced it is looking for scientists of exceptional creativity to apply for its new NIDA Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS research. In a move to stimulate high-impact research into the link between drug abuse prevention and treatment and HIV/AIDS, NIDA will provide up to $500,000 per year for five years to two or three scientists of exceptional creativity who propose cutting edge - and possibly transformative - approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research on drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.

November 26, 2007 - National Institute on Drug Abuse Launches Public Service Campaign for Hispanic Youth on the Link between Non-Injection Drugs and HIV. The National Institute on Drug Abuse launched its new, national public service campaign to educate Hispanic teens on the link between non-injection drug use and HIV transmission. The campaign features an innovative television spot blending English and Spanish; a Webisode series that will launch soon on; outdoor, transit and print placements; community events and partnerships.

November 15, 2007 - The National Institute on Drug Abuse Offers Summer Internship Opportunities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse announced the kick off for the application period for summer research training opportunities at its Intramural Program facility in Baltimore, Maryland. The internship program - now in its 21st year - is part of NIDA's commitment to introducing the science of addiction to some of the best and brightest young scientists in America.

October 29, 2007 - Drug-Impaired Driving by Youth Remains Serious Problem. Large numbers of American adolescents are putting themselves and others at great risk by driving while under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol, according to a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2006, 30 percent of high school seniors reported driving after drinking heavily or using drugs, or riding in a car whose driver had been drinking heavily or using drugs, at least once in the prior two weeks. These findings are based on data obtained from the Monitoring the Future study, in which nationally representative samples of high school seniors have been surveyed annually since 1975. The data analysis was published in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

September 16, 2007 - Two NIH Institutes Share Emmy Award for HBO's The Addiction Project. Two Institutes at the National Institutes of Health have been honored with the prestigious Governors Award by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for their contribution to HBO's Addiction Project. "Addiction" is a 14-part documentary television series and multimedia initiative revealing the science of addiction, its treatment, recovery, and its costs to families and society. A diverse group of people who were battling alcohol or drug addiction were featured, as well as addiction experts from around the country.

September 10, 2007 - NIH Scientists Demonstrate Genetic Variant is Linked to Greater Effectiveness of Smoking Cessation Medication. A genetic variant present in nearly half of Americans of European ancestry is linked to greater effectiveness of the smoking cessation medication bupropion (Zyban), according to research by scientists supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute. People with this variant were less likely than those without it to have resumed smoking six months after treatment with bupropion.

Articles of Interest

December 11, 2007, Associated Press—"Study: Overall Teen Drug Use Declining"--Mention of 2007 Monitoring the Future Survey.

September 26, 2007, Associated Press—"Pregnant Smokers and Depression Tied"--Interview with Nora D. Volkow, M.D.

August 26, 2007, New York Times—"Mind Over Matter, With a Machine's Help"--Interview with Nora D. Volkow, M.D.

Dr. Frank Vocci and Dr. Jag Khalsa, DPMCDA, attended and spoke at the SAA clinic's 30th anniversary celebration in Reyjkavik, Iceland on October 1-2, 2007. Both were interviewed by the leading news paper of Reykyavik with their pictures in the newspaper. Both were also interviewed by the local television studio and were aired on their prime time news.

Dr. Steven Grant, DCNBR, provided background information to Bill Campbell of PBS Now for a program on Methamphetamine broadcast on August 31, 2007.

Dr. Steven Grant provided background information to Alana Berry at National Geographic for a program on Addiction.

Dr. Steven Grant provided background information on methamphetamine to Scott McMillan at Montana Quarterly for an article on prisons devoted to substance abuse treatment.

Outreach Activities

Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body. Through a continuing partnership, NIDA and SCHOLASTIC INC, the global children's publishing and media company, distributed information on the health effects of drugs to nearly 2 million students and teachers in grades 5 through 10 nationwide four times per year, with an emphasis on grades 7 and above. The information is distributed via 2- to 4-page article inserts. Magazines that include Heads Up are Junior Scholastic, Science World, CHOICES, SCOPE, ACTION, and Up Front. Three Student and Teacher compilations were completed for the 2007/08 school year, Out of It - How Drug Abuse Impairs the Way We Think and Function; The Lowdown on Hydrocodone; and Talking with Your Doctor; two were published and distributed. NIDA is unique in that Heads Up is the only regular "run-of-book" insert included in any Scholastic magazine.

Upcoming Confernences/Exhibits

National Association of School Psychologists 40th Annual Convention
New Orleans, LA
February 6-9, 2008
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Forum XVIII
Washington, DC
February 11-14, 2008
10th Annual Lonnie E. Mitchell National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Substance Abuse and Mental Health Conference
Atlanta, GA
April 2-5, 2008
American Psychiatric Association 161st Annual Meeting
Washington, DC
May 3-8, 2008


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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