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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

February, 1997

International Activities

NIDA Director, Dr. Alan Leshner, traveled to Istanbul in November to present two lectures at the Third International Bakirköy Days hosted by Bakirköy State Hospital for Psychiatric and Neurological Diseases. The topics of his presentations were "Neuroscientific Advances in Drug Abuse" and "The Health Impact of Drug Abuse." Dr. Leshner also held research discussions with staff of Bakirköy's Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment and Research Center.

The 1996-97 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows in Drug Abuse made their annual orientation visit to NIDA on December 6. NIDA program staff Drs. Roger Brown, DBR, Betty Tai, MDD, Bennett Fletcher, DCSR, James Colliver, Richard Needle and William Bukowski, all of DEPR, and Lula Beatty, Office of Special Populations, made presentations on their respective research program portfolios to provide the Humphrey Fellows with an introduction to the broad range of drug abuse research being conducted by NIDA. The Fellows remarked on the value of this information in planning their program affiliations and in developing research plans for implementation on return to their home countries.

NIDA and several other NIH institutes hosted a delegation from the Georgian Republic for meetings organized by the Fogarty International Center. The Georgians report a growing problem with drug abuse by youth in their country and are interested in collaboration on drug abuse research, particularly methadone maintenance treatment and HIV prevention strategies. Delegation member Dr. Gela Lezhava, Director of the Georgian Research Institute on Addiction and former Minister of Health, met with several division directors and visited the Intramural Research Program in Baltimore.

NIDA's International Program sponsored an international satellite meeting on "Building International Research in Drug Abuse," at the June 1996 CPDD meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This meeting, supported by the U.S. Department of State, provided an opportunity for drug abuse researchers from around the world to share their research and to explore potential areas for collaboration. Dr. Joseph Frascella, DCSR, participated in candidate selection for the meeting and served as a moderator for the research presentations session at the meeting. Proceedings of the meeting have recently been prepared and distributed to participants; additional copies are available through the NIDA International Program. Building on the success of 1996, there will be a second international satellite meeting in Nashville in June 1997.

The International Program now has an International Home Page available within the Home Page. Information on NIDA's goals for the further development of international drug abuse research and information dissemination are contained at this site, as well as material on the NIDA/INVEST and the NIDA/Hubert H. Humphrey Training Fellowships. The International Home Page also contains up-to-date details on International Meetings, NIDA travel awards available to international scientists and copies of the three most recent INVEST Letters.

The International Program and Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research coordinated NIDA's substantial contribution to the U.S.-Mexico White Paper being developed for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in preparation for high level meetings with Mexican government officials and for future bilateral collaboration in drug abuse demand reduction activities. The paper includes reports on epidemiological trends in the United States, findings of prevention and treatment interventions specifically applicable to Hispanic culture and language, and NIDA and NIH international research opportunities available to Mexican scientists and policy makers in drug abuse.

Dr. Frank Tims, DCSR, was an invited participant and speaker in a symposium on "Drug Abuse and the Criminal Justice System: A Creative Partnership for Change," in Ottawa, Canada. Dr. Tims presented a paper entitled "Costs and Cost Benefits of Treatment." The symposium was jointly sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association and the Portage Programs for Dependencies.

Dr. Tims also was an invited speaker at the 3rd International Congress of the Worldwide Hungarian Medical Academy in Pecs, Hungary during July. He spoke on "Contemporary Drug Issues."

In September, Dr. Yng-Shiuh Sheu, DCSR, assisted the Psychotropic and Narcotic Drugs Unit, Mental Health, World Health Organization and its Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in preparing medical and scientific reviews on seven psychoactive substances. These substances were reviewed by WHO because they were being considered for international control under the 1961 Single Convention and 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Compounds reviewed by the Expert Committee in October, 1996 were alprazolam, diazepam, ephedrine, nicotine (gum, patches, nasal spray, and inhaler), remifentanil, dihydroetorphine, and sumatriptan.

Drs. Robert Battjes and Jack Blaine, DCSR, represented NIDA at the Steering Committee Meeting of the WHO/NIH Joint Project on the Assessment and Classification of Disablements on December 10th-11th in Rockville, MD. The Steering Committee reviewed progress on the work of this cooperative agreement including the data analysis and publications being prepared from the recently completed Substance Use Disorders Reliability and Validity Study as well as the development of disablement assessment instruments and the planned cross-cultural applicability research study on disablement.

Dr. Jack Blaine, DCSR, participated as a research collaborator in the investigators meeting held in Antalya, Turkey on September 28-October 1 from the Substance Use Disorders Reliability and Validity Study being conducted as part of the WHO/NIH Joint Project on the Assessment and Classification of Disablements. While in Turkey, Dr. Blaine visited the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment and Research Center (AMATEM), of the Bakirköy State Hospital for Psychiatric and Neurological Diseases in Istanbul on October 2-4. He made a presentation on treatment of heroin addiction and met with clinical and research staff at AMATEM to provide technical assistance in treatment of drug addiction and to explore opportunities for binational research cooperation.

Dr. Richard Needle, Chief, Community Research Branch, DEPR, participated in the Fifth Annual HIV Epidemiology Research Meeting sponsored by Health Canada in Toronto during December. Dr. Needle met with Canadian and other international researchers to discuss cross-cutting issues associated with the epidemiology of HIV, current Canadian research prevention and intervention efforts, and future research directions, including opportunities for collaborative efforts.

Dr. Peter Hartsock, Community Research Branch, DEPR, in collaboration with colleagues at NIAID, the Fogarty Center, and the Russian Institute of Pure Biochemicals, organized the first U.S.-Russian Conference on Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases (EREIDs), which was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, Dec. 8-11, 1996. The purpose of the conference was to stimulate U.S.-Russian cooperative research efforts in EREIDs. The conference was supported by the Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) of the former Soviet Union. NIH contributed $1 million through the Fogarty Center to the CRDF, with additional financial support from the NIH Office of AIDS Research, as did the Russian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Russian Ministry of Health.

Arthur Hughes, ERB/DEPR presented a paper entitled "The Epidemiology and Social Context of Amphetamines, MDMA, and other Psychostimulant Use in the United States" at the WHO Meeting on Amphetamines, MDMA and Other Psychostimulants, held November 12-15, 1996 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. James Colliver, DEPR, represented NIDA at the semiannual meeting of the Pompidou Group of substance abuse epidemiologists November 25 and 26 at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. He presented information on recent drug use trends in the United States and on the activities of the International Drug Abuse Epidemiologic Work Group. 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.

On December 12, 1996, Dr. James Colliver was interviewed on World Net Television's Dialogue program which focused on the methods of measuring drug use. World Net TV is part of the U.S. Information Agency, and its programming is transmitted by satellite to viewers in 140 countries. The show was broadcast live in Spanish and English, and questions came from panelists in Peru, Paraguay, and Jamaica.

Dr. Derrick S. Binns visited the Division of Clinical and Services Research and the Prevention Research Branch, DEPR on November 6, 1996. Dr. Binns is a clinical psychologist with the National Drug Commission of Bermuda.

On September 12, 1996 nine individuals from Brazil, Belize, Honduras, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and Honduras were briefed by DEPR staff Nicholas Kozel and Dr. Larry Seitz on the latest results in prevention intervention research.

Dr. Peter Cohen, MDD made a presentation entitled "Science and Law as Alternative Approaches to Reality" to the Department of Anaesthetics, Manchester Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom, November 1996.

Dr. Peter Cohen, MDD made a presentation entitled "Personal Injury/Medical Negligence: An American Perspective" to a group of private practice attorneys in the United Kingdom, November 1996.

Dr. Alexis Thompson, IRP, presented papers entitled, "Characterization of Striatal Dopamine in the Mouse Using Conventional and Quantitative Microdialysis Methods," and "Effects of Psychostimulants on Striatal Dopamine in Mice Using Quantitative Microdialysis" at the 7th International Conference on In Vivo Methods, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, October 1996.

Dr. Steven R. Goldberg, IRP, presented a talk on "Methamphetamine Administration and Associated Neurotoxicity" as an invited symposium participant at the 11th Meeting of the Society for Neurochemistry, Groningen, The Netherlands in July, 1996.

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