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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > February, 2010 Index    

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - February, 2010

Media and Education Activities

Monitoring the Future 2009

The results of this year's Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey were unveiled at a press conference December 14, 2009, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Featured speakers included NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy R. Gil Kerlikowske, and the study's principal investigator, Lloyd D. Johnston, Ph.D. In addition, a local high school senior gave remarks about the importance of the MTF survey to students. Coverage of the event was extensive and included print, broadcast and web stories from the following outlets (among numerous others): NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, National Public Radio, Associated Press, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Dow Jones Newswire and Healthday News. In addition, Dr. Volkow answered questions about the survey results for the web blog "Addiction Inbox," a highly-popular and well-regarded blog which has over 7,000 websites that link to it.

Town Hall Event

To promote community-wide involvement in drug abuse prevention efforts, NIDA hosted a live virtual town hall meeting to showcase effective evidence-based drug abuse prevention approaches. The webcast was viewed by health, science and justice reporters to learn how effective approaches are changing U.S. communities. The virtual town hall offered top federal prevention experts a chance to interact with citizens and local representatives who have seen impressive results in their own communities. This event followed the September 7 release of results from the Community Youth Development Study, the first randomized trial of the model for implementing prevention programs known as Communities That Care. The study was supported by a research grant from NIDA with co-funding from other NIH Institutes and from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

Teleconference on Cocaine Vaccine

On October 5, PILB held a teleconference discussion with national, local, and trade reporters to discuss the findings of a NIDA-funded study in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry evaluating the safety and efficacy of a vaccine to treat cocaine addiction. Dr. Volkow and the study's lead investigator, Dr. Thomas Kosten, led the discussion and answered questions from the media. The teleconference was well attended, with nearly 30 media outlets participating, including the New York Times, Reuters, NBC News, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, McClatchy Newspapers, BBC, Addiction magazine, Scientific American, and Medscape Psychiatry.

NIDA Drug Facts Chat Day

NIDA sponsored its third annual NIDA Drug Facts Chat Day on November 10, 2009. The purpose of this chat was to provide an opportunity for students and teachers in classrooms across the United States to ask questions of the Nation's top experts in the field of drug abuse and addiction. Despite efforts to limit registration, more than 13,000 questions came into Chat Day central as moderators Dr. Cindy Miner and Dr. Gaya Dowling screened and sent hundreds of queries to more than 40 NIDA scientists and science writers. Working as quickly as they could, the NIDA team answered close to 1,400 questions from 50 schools in 23 states. Among the participants was NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow, who herself answered more than 100 questions. An informal review of the incoming questions revealed that queries on marijuana more than doubled this year.

Press Releases

September 4, 2009 -- Drug Czar, Top Federal Experts Use Virtual Town Hall to Announce Success of Major Community Based Drug Prevention Effort. To promote community-wide involvement in drug abuse prevention efforts, NIDA hosted a live, virtual town hall meeting to showcase effective evidence-based drug abuse prevention approaches (see details above).

September 7, 2009 -- Innovative Community-Based Prevention Dramatically Reduces Risky Behavior in 10-14 Year Olds. A randomized trial of Communities That Care (CTC), an evidence-based, substance-use, community-focused prevention system, showed significant reductions in the initiation of alcohol use, tobacco use, binge drinking, and delinquent behavior among middle schoolers as they progressed from the fifth through the eighth grades. The positive results, published in the September 7 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, demonstrate that community-based coalitions using customized evidence-based approaches can prevent the early initiation of substance abuse and delinquent behavior among youth.

September 21, 2009 -- NIDA's 2009 Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative HIV/AIDS Research Announced. Four scientists have been selected as this year's winners of the Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS research, NIDA announced. The annual award competition, now in its second year, is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug abusers. Winning scientists receive $500,000 per year, plus associated facilities and administrative costs, for five years to support their research.

October 1, 2009 -- Teleconference Discussion of Results from Cocaine Vaccine Study. Drs. Nora Volkow and Thomas Kosten discussed the findings of a study in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry evaluating the safety and efficacy of a vaccine to treat cocaine addiction. Currently there is no FDA-approved medication for treating cocaine addiction.

October 5, 2009 -- Cocaine Vaccine Shows Promise for Treating Addiction. Immunization with an experimental anti-cocaine vaccine resulted in a substantial reduction in cocaine use in 38 percent of vaccinated patients in a clinical trial supported by NIDA. The study, published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, is the first successful, placebo-controlled demonstration of a vaccine against an illicit drug of abuse.

October 30, 2009 -- Federal Stimulus Grant Supports Crucial Study of Anti-Nicotine Vaccine. Efforts to develop a vaccine capable of preventing tobacco addiction got a $10-million shot in the arm in the form of an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. The award to Nabi Biopharmaceuticals of Rockville, MD, was funded by NIDA. The Recovery Act funds will help pay for the first pivotal phase III trial of NicVAX, an injectable vaccine intended to help people quit smoking and prevent them from relapsing. The grant enables Nabi to retain its current staff as well as support 150 jobs at NicVAX research sites around the country.

November 6, 2009 -- NIDA Launches New Substance Abuse Resources to Help Fill Gaps in Medical Education. The rigors of medical training sharpen a doctor's ability to diagnose and treat a wide variety of human afflictions. However, drug abuse and addiction are often insufficiently covered in medical school curricula, despite the fact that drug use affects a wide range of health conditions and drug abuse and addiction are themselves major public health issues. To improve drug abuse and addiction training of future physicians, NIDA unveiled a series of new teaching tools, through its Centers of Excellence for Physician Information Program (NIDA CoEs), at the Association of American Medical Colleges 2009 Annual Meeting's "Innovations in Medical Education" Exhibit in Boston.

November 19, 2009 -- NIDA Stimulus Grant to Assess the Benefits of Counseling with HIV. Public health experts encourage everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 to be HIV tested. Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the San Francisco Department of Public Health will determine whether receiving a rapid HIV test and counseling offers healthier outcomes than rapid testing alone, with a $12.3 million grant awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant is being funded by NIDA.

December 14, 2009 - Teen Methamphetamine Use, Cigarette Smoking at Lowest Levels in NIDA's 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey. Methamphetamine use among teens appears to have dropped significantly in recent years, according to NIDA's annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, released at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. However, declines in marijuana use have stalled, and prescription drug abuse remains high, the survey reported.

December 15, 2009 -- NIDA Director Honored By French Government With Top Science Award For Addiction Research. Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of NIDA, was awarded the International Prize from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) for her pioneering work in brain imaging and addiction science. Dr. Volkow will receive the award at a December 17, 2009 ceremony at the College of France learning center in Paris.

Research News

Full NewsScans can be seen at

September 11, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #63 - Research News

  • Disparities, Variability Found in Methadone Maintenance Dosing Patterns
  • Brain Receptors Underlie Sex Differences Observed in Morphine Analgesia
  • Marijuana Prevention Campaigns May Have Undesired Effects on Marijuana Use
  • Crack Cocaine Use Hastens Progression of HIV Infection to AIDS
  • Few U.S. High Schools Use Evidence-Based Drug Prevention Curricula
  • Gene Changes Linked to Nicotine Dependence and Success With Smoking Cessation
  • Electronic Diary Captures Moods and Cues Leading to Heroin and Cocaine Use
  • Aging Population of Steroid Abusers May Face Underrecognized Health Problems

December 11, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #64 - Research News

  • Imaging Study Correlates Areas of Brain Activity with Sensation Seeking
  • Suppressing Glial Cell Activity Reduces Rewarding Effects of Morphine and Withdrawal in Rats
  • Imaging Study Shows Awareness Deficit in Marijuana Abusers
  • Ibudilast and Minocycline Reduce Symptoms of Withdrawal from Two Different Opioid Drugs
  • Salvinorin A Causes Rapid, Short-Lasting Sedation in Non-Human Primates
  • Traumatic Brain Injury is an Understudied Risk Factor for Drug Abuse
  • Marijuana Use Associated with a Subtype of Testicular Cancer
  • CREB Protein Activity in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell Mediates Environmental Cues Associated with Nicotine

Highlights of Interviews & Articles of Interest

March 26, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about studies on obesity for a story about bad habits and how hard it is to break them.

September 15, 2009 - Washington Post - Dr. Volkow was interviewed about a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association regarding dopamine and ADHD.

September 22, 2009 - - Dr. Compton was interviewed about the difference between tolerance and addiction.

September 25, 2009 - Wall-to-Wall Productions - Dr. Volkow was interviewed for a National Geographic series called "A Biography of Drugs."

October 1, 2009 - Scientific American - Dr. Volkow was interviewed for a cover story about cognitive enhancing drugs.

October 2, 2009 - Discovery Health - Dr. David Shurtleff was interviewed about the effects of LSD on the body and the brain for a program called "Dr. G: America's Most Shocking Cases."

October 26, 2009 - New York Times - Dr. Volkow was interviewed for a column about dopamine.

November 17, 2009 - CBS "60 Minutes" - Dr. Volkow was interviewed by Katie Couric for an upcoming segment on cognitive-enhancing drugs. The interview took place at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where Dr. Volkow conducts her brain imaging research.

November 19, 2009 - - Dr. Compton was interviewed about the problem of abuse of pain medication among general population and youth.

November 21, 2009 - New York Times - Dr. Volkow was interviewed for a story about the use of marijuana to treat psychiatric conditions, including ADHD.

November 30, 2009 - - Dr. Volkow was interviewed for a story on the science of addiction.

A research study by Dr. Yun Wang, IRP, was highlighted in Reuters Health (2009-06-23) by Megan Rauscher. Title: Delayed treatment with p53 inhibitor enhances stroke recovery in rats.

Outreach Activities

NIDA Scientists Star in Web Videos
NIDA has expanded the video library on its Teen Website with three creative new videos on prescription drug abuse and painkillers. The videos feature NIDA scientists Dr. Cindy Miner, Dr. Joni Rutter, and Dr. Wilson Compton talking about the facts and dangers of prescription drug abuse, as well as the safe use of prescription painkillers.

NIDA Distributes Media Guide to Reporters Nationwide
PILB has produced a new NIDA Media Guide: How to Find What You Need to Know about Drug Abuse and Addiction. The guide is designed to provide journalists with fast and user-friendly access to the latest scientific information on drug abuse and addiction. It includes basic and behavioral science research that addresses fundamental and essential questions relevant to drug abuse and addiction, ranging from their causes and consequences to treatment and prevention. More than 300 hard copies of the guide have been distributed to print and broadcast reporters to date, and additional copies are being distributed to professional journalist organizations and in press rooms of national science and health conferences. An online version of the guide will be periodically updated.

Rally for Recovery
Dr. Volkow joined 10,000 others in the second annual Rally for Recovery walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on September 12, 2009 sponsored by the partners of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month and A&E Entertainment. Other key participants included New York Governor David Paterson, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, SAMHSA's Dr. Westley Clark, A&E President and General Manager Bob DeBitetto, Dr. Tom McLellan, Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, along with addiction specialists from the A&E show Intervention. Jane Velez-Mitchell, CNN anchor, served as the event emcee.

Recent and Upcoming Conferences/Exhibits

National Medical Association Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly July 25-30, 2009 -- Las Vegas, NV

American Association of Medical Colleges Annual Meeting
November 6-11, 2009 -- Boston, MA

American Public Health Association 137th Annual Meeting and Exposition
November 7-11, 2009 -- Philadelphia, PA

National Association for the Education of Young Children 2009 Annual Conference and Expo
November 18-20, 2009 -- Washington, DC

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Leadership Form XX
February 8-11, 2010 -- National Harbor, MD

National Science Teachers Association National Conference on Science Education
March 18-21, 2010 -- Philadelphia, PA


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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