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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

February, 1998

International Activities

On October 6-8, 1997, NIDA and the Pavlov Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russia, cosponsored a U.S.-Russia Bilateral Workshop entitled "Prevention of HIV and Other Infectious Diseases Among Drug Abusers," held in St. Petersburg. Russia is faced with a rapidly expanding drug abuse epidemic and emerging epidemics of HIV and other infectious diseases associated with drug use. The meeting was designed to share information regarding HIV and other infectious diseases among drug users in the U.S. and Russia, to identify public health responses to these epidemics, to explore research initiatives and public health interventions with practical application to preventing the spread of these diseases, and to develop an action plan for future collaboration. Drs. Robert Battjes and Patricia Needle led the delegation, which also included Drs. Skip Francis and Richard Needle of NIDA, Dr. Paul Gaist of the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and Drs. Philippe Bourgois, San Francisco State University, Sherry Deren, NDRI, Marc Gourevitch, Montefiore Medical Center, David Vlahov, John Hopkins University, and George Woody, University of Pennsylvania. Following the workshop, U.S. delegation members made visits to prevention and treatment facilities in St. Petersburg. Dr. Francis reviewed clinical infectious diseases cases at the regional infectious hospital and collaborated with the hospital's medical staff in developing a research consensus for targeting specific infectious diseases for clinical prevention efforts. Drs. Battjes, Bourgois, Woody, Needle and Gaist observed HIV prevention intervention activities at the Drug Abuse Prevention Center and mobile van providing prevention and outreach services for risk reduction operated by Medicins du Monde in St. Petersburg.

The 3rd Regional Meeting of US/Central European Countries on Drug Dependence, titled "Mechanisms in Drug Abuse and Addiction: Translation to Treatment," took place in Brno, Czech Republic from November 4-8, 1997. With support from the U.S. Department of State, a delegation of 8 Americans traveled to Brno to meet with East European counterparts from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Slovakia. Participants from the U.S. included Drs. Frank Vocci and Patricia Needle, NIDA, Drs. Martin Adler and Toby Eisenstein, Temple University; and Drs. Huda Akil, University of Michigan, Mary Jeanne Kreek, The Rockefeller University, Charles O'Brien, University of Pennsylvania, Phillip Peterson, University of Minnesota, and Friedbert Weiss, The Scripps Research Institute. European and American scientists made presentations, which were followed by discussion on the application of the basic biomedical scientific information to drug abuse treatment. It is expected that, as a result of this meeting, new collaborations between U.S. and East European scientists will be initiated.

NIDA co-sponsored and participated in the "First MERCOSUR Regional Congress on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse" in Asuncion, Paraguay , August 28-30, 1997. With support from the Department of State, Dr. Kenzie Preston, IRP, presented results of treatment research studies conducted at the NIDA IRP. Dr. Patricia Needle, International Program presented "NIDA's Role in International Cooperation fro Drug Abuse Research and Education" via live television hookup through the conference through World Net. The conference organizers reported that there were almost 700 participants at the meeting from the MERCOSUR region (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay), Europe, (France, Spain, United Kingdom), and the U.S.

NIDA welcomed the 1997-1998 Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows with an orientation program on November 21, 1997. This annual event is designed to give the Fellows an introduction to NIDA research programs and how they are administered. The four NIDA-supported Humphrey Fellows are Drs. Jozsef Lango of Hungary, M. Maher Hussain of India, Rahmaan Lawal of Nigeria, and Victor Chtenguelov of Ukraine. Following their course of study at The Johns Hopkins University, each Fellow will complete a six-week professional affiliation with a NIDA-funded researcher.

Dr. Skip Francis, DCSR, moderated a NIDA-sponsored symposium titled "Drug Use and Sexually Transmitted Diseases" at the International Congress of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Seville, Spain, October 19-22, 1997. The symposium speakers and Dr. Francis presented data on the epidemiology and the definition of drug use and addiction, and on behavioral, STD and health access issues in drug abuse research.

Dr. Robert Battjes, DCSR, attended a steering committee of the WHO/NIH Joint Project on the Assessment and Classification of Disablements, September 23-24, 1997 in Luxembourg, and also attended a meeting of the assessment instrument development task force on September 25-27.

On January 9, 1998, Dr. Peter Cohen, MDD, presented a lecture at the Fourth International Stapleford Conference of Addiction Management, London, England. The lecture was entitled "The FDA, New Drug Approval, and Off-Label Use."

Dr. Zili Sloboda, Director, DEPR, represented NIDA at the European Epidemiology Experts meeting in Strasbourg, France on December 8-9, 1997.

Dr. Zili Sloboda, DEPR, participated with Dr. Patricia Needle in a meeting in Mexico City on September 18-19, 1997, hosted by CONADIC, Mexico's National Council on the Addictions, to discuss issues related to drug abuse, sexual risk behaviors for HIV and other infectious diseases and to determine activities of mutual interest for cross-national studies.

Ann Blanken, DEPR, made a presentation entitled "The Epidemiology and Prevention Strategies of Drug Abuse in the U.S.A." at the International Symposium on Drug Abuse: A Memorial Event for the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of Kangwon National University on October 10, 1997 at the Sejong cultural Center in Seoul, Korea.

Mr. Nicholas Kozel, DEPR, cochaired a joint meeting of the East and South Asian Multi-City Epidemiology Work Group meeting held in Penang, Malaysia on November 17-20, 1997. The East and South Asian Work Group meeting was composed of researchers from Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Taipei, Vientiane, Dhaka, Colombo, Islamabad, and Madras. This is one of a series of regional programs being developed to provide assessment and surveillance of drug abuse with the objective of integrating these regional data into a global perspective. A meeting proceedings is produced annually describing the current status of drug abuse in the major cities of the region and emerging drugs of abuse. The project is jointly funded by the U.S. Department of State and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and is coordinated by staff of NIDA and the Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Moira O'Brien, DEPR, participated in the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, An Expert Group Meeting on Methods of Information Support to International Drug Programmes, held in Vienna, Austria, October 20-22, 1997, and gave a presentation on NIDA's Epidemiology International Research Program.

Peter Hartsock, Dr.P.H., CRB/DEPR, represented NIDA at the plenary meeting of the European Union Concerted Action on AIDS held in Bilthoven, the Netherlands on October 1-4, 1997. Dr. Hartsock provided information on NIDA's AIDS epidemiologic, prevention, and cost effectiveness modeling efforts and possibilities for cooperation with EU efforts. He also discussed NIDA's activities in emerging and reemerging infectious diseases (EREIDs).

On January 9, 1998, Dr. Peter Cohen, Medications Development Division, presented a lecture at the Fourth International Stapleford Conference of Addiction Management, London, England. The lecture was entitled "The FDA, New Drug Approval, and Off-Label Use."

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