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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

February, 1997

Program Activities

Program Announcements/RFAs

Drug Use, Sexual Risk Behaviors, and HIV in Men

The Community Research Branch, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, in collaboration with the Division of Clinical and Services Research, has issued a new Program Announcement (PA-96-074) to encourage research aimed at understanding and preventing drug abuse and HIV in drug using men who have sex with men (DU MSM). DU MSM use drugs by injection and/or non-injection, and they engage in same-gender sex regardless of self-identified sexual orientation. Because DU MSM may engage in high risk drug and sex practices, and may have multiple partners and networks, they are an important HIV risk group not only in and of themselves, but also in their potential to bridge HIV transmission between heterosexual IDUs and non-IDU MSM. This new program initiative underscores NIDA's commitment to and interest in supporting epidemiological and HIV prevention research on this understudied and dual risk group.

Neurobiological Substrates of Cognitive Functioning in Drug Abuse
The Division of Clinical and Services Research and the Division of Basic Research have issued a joint RFA (DA-98-001) on the "Neurobiological Substrates of Cognitive Functioning in Drug Abuse." The emphasis is on bridging the gap between the fields of cognitive neuroscience and addiction research. The application receipt date is June 13, 1997, and the Institute contacts are Chiiko Asanuma, Ph.D. for human studies, and Thomas Aigner, Ph.D. for animal studies.

Young Investigators: B/START
NIDA launched the Behavioral Science Track Awards for Rapid Transition (B/START) program in order to fund small pilot projects submitted by new investigators. Eight B/START applications were funded in the first cohort. B/START is planned to be an ongoing program.

Discovery of Novel Pharmacotherapies for Cocaine Dependence
The Medications Development Division issued RFA DA-97-003 entitled "Discovery of Novel Pharmacotherapies for Cocaine Dependence," to encourage applications containing medicinal chemistry and preclinical pharmacology to design, synthesize and test compounds leading to the identification of candidates for advanced preclinical and clinical evaluation as potential pharmacotherapies for cocaine dependence. Applications under the R01 and R29 mechanisms are requested with a letter of intent date of February 13, 1997 and an application receipt date of March 13, 1997.

NIDA Role in Grants under NIH RFA on Domestic Violence
The 15-agency consortium for the NIH RFA on Domestic Violence resulted in 10 awards totalling more than $1.5 million. Although participating agencies including CDC and NIJ are collaborators, NIDA is now the lead agency for management and scientific administration. Dr. Donald Vereen, OD is the NIDA representative to the NIH consortium; Dr. Coryl Jones DEPR/ERB is the scientific program official; and Catherine Mills OPRM/GMB is the Grants Management Official. This group of awards includes studies of children of battered women, post-rape psychopathology, homicide in violent intimate relationships, partner violence among Native American Women, PTSD among cocaine-dependent women, elder abuse, emotions and self cognitions of maltreated children, and preventive interventions for adolescents. Although violence and victimization within the family were the focus of the RFA, drug and alcohol abuse emerged as a key factor in the predisposing situations.

Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR)
NIDA's Office on AIDS has worked closely with the Division of AIDS, NIAID to develop a multi-Institute program announcement, PA-98-AI-011, "Centers for AIDS Research (CFAR)" which will support cores (P30-mechanism) to provide infrastructure and promote basic, clinical, behavioral and translational AIDS-related research at institutions that receive significant funding from multiple NIH Institutes. The objective is to enhance collaboration and coordination of all AIDS and AIDS-related investigators at an institution.

Multi-Institute Program Announcement
NIDA's Office on AIDS worked with NIMH to develop a multi-Institute Program Announcement, PA-97-010, "HIV-1 Infection of the Central Nervous System" that was announced in the NIH Guide to Contracts and Grants, December 20, 1996.

Supplements for the Study of Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS
NIDA, through its Office on AIDS, published a notice in the NIH Guide announcing the availability of funds to supplement existing NIH research project grants. The funds would be used to study issues related to drug abuse with a focus on HIV/AIDS issues. Awards are to be made available through both administrative and competing mechanisms. One of the goals of this announcement is to encourage grantees who have not traditionally focused their research in the AIDS arena to do so. Eligibility is also extended to current AIDS focused/related projects. The current areas of NIDA's AIDS effort include the following: Natural History and Epidemiology, Etiology and Pathogenesis, Therapeutics, Vaccines, Behavioral and Social Science Research, Information Dissemination, Research Mentoring and Career Development and International Research Collaboration. Inquiries should be directed to Steven Gust, Ph.D., Acting Director, Office on AIDS.

Other Activities

Buprenorphine and Buprenorphine/Naloxone Clinical Trials
The Medications Development Division has started two clinical trials to provide the data necessary to support NDAs for two products for the treatment of opiate dependence. The first product is a buprenorphine tablet, the second a buprenorphine combined with naloxone tablet. As of January 10, there were 132 subjects enrolled in these studies.

MDD Ad Hoc Consultants Meeting
The Medications Development Division held a two day (Nov. 14-15) ad hoc consultant's meeting to review clinical and preclinical information relating to clinical targets for cocaine and opiate medications development. The review provided valuable insights for use in developing protocols for potential testing within the Division's clinical program, and for examining compounds currently in various preclinical development stages.

MDD Clinical Trials Database
The Medications Development Division has developed a Clinical Trials Database (covering cocaine and opiates). The database covers all NIDA funded trials which are completed and those on-going trials for which data was reported. A poster on the database was presented at the ACNP meeting in December.

Implementation Plan for AIDS Research Evaluation
The Office of AIDS Research (OAR) at NIH has led a cross-Institute activity to develop an Implementation Plan in response to the Report of the NIH AIDS Research Program Evaluation Task Force. This plan was developed in conjunction with the NIDA Office on AIDS and NIDA staff served on the committees that drafted the report. This plan summarizes ongoing and future activities of the Institutes in response to the recommendations of the Program Evaluation Task Force and will be used by the OAR and the NIH Institutes to guide HIV/AIDS research in the future. The report is in the final stages of review before presentation to the OAR Advisory Council on March 14.

NIDA Pain Workgroup
NIDA's Pain Interest Group, which has been informally meeting during the past year recently gained official workgroup status. The goals of this workgroup, chaired by David Thomas, Ph.D., DBR, include fostering communication within NIDA on the topic of pain; facilitating the field of pain research by sponsoring meetings and workshops; and promoting NIDA's positive role in pain research.

NIDA Genetics Workgroup
A Genetics workgroup has recently been established at NIDA to study genetic research approaches for understanding drug abuse vulnerability and neuroadaptation. The workgroup will build on recent advances in genetic research of complex diseases; the human genome project; and identification of gene alleles for specific diseases to study the application of these techniques to drug abuse research. The workgroup is co-chaired by Jonathan D. Pollock, Ph.D, DBR, and Naimah Z. Weinberg, M.D., DEPR.

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