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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - May, 2004

International Activities

International Honors

Pavlov Medical University Rector Dr. Nicolai Yaitsky has been named an Academician of the Russian Academy of Science, the highest scientific honor in Russia. Membership is based on an individual's contributions to scientific research, development, education, and innovation. Among Dr. Yaitsky's accomplishments was the 1996 Exchange of Letters between Pavlov Medical University and NIDA that established the two institutions' binational collaboration on biomedical and behavioral research related to drug abuse and drug-related consequences. That agreement has resulted in NIDA support for a number of successful research projects, fellowships and professional development opportunities for Russian scientists, scientific exchanges between Russian and U.S. researchers, and binational and international research symposia.

NIDA-Supported Meetings

NIDA and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) co-sponsored a day-long seminar at the society's 35th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference in collaboration with the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM). Dorynne Czechowicz, M.D., DTR&D, chaired the seminar organizing committee and served as NIDA liaison to the ASAM conference program committee. DTR&D Director Francis Vocci, Ph.D.; Peter Geerlings, M.D., De Jellinek, Amsterdam, Netherlands; and David A. Fiellin, M.D., Yale, co-chaired the buprenorphine seminar. Other members of the seminar organizing committee included Marc Galanter, M.D., New York University and the following NIDA staff: IP Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D.; Ivan Montoya, M.D., DTR&D; Robert Walsh, R.A.C., DTR&D; Betty Tai, Ph.D., Director, CCTN; and Ling Chin, M.D., M.P.H., CCTN. The seminar provided: 1) science-based information regarding the use of buprenorphine in different countries for detoxification and maintenance treatment of opioid addiction; 2) data from NIDA-supported research on the use of buprenorphine in office-based practices, and from the buprenorphine studies in the National Clinical Trials Network; 3) updates on treating opioid-dependent pregnant women and adolescents; and 4) issues related to the medical, clinical management, and integration of behavioral therapies to improve adherence to pharmacotherapy and enhance treatment outcomes. NIDA supported the participation of five international speakers: Nicholas Lintzeris, MBBS, Ph.D., Kings College, London, England; Marc Auriacombe, M.D., Universite Victor Segalen, Bordeaux, France; Antti Holopainen, M.D., Jarvenpaa Addiction Hospital, Haarajoki, Finland; Gabriele Fischer, M.D., University of Vienna, Austria, and Dr. Geerlings. The ASAM meeting was held April 22-25, 2004 in Washington, D.C.

NIDA contributed to the 22nd World Federation of Therapeutic Communities' World Conference by supporting the participation of two NIDA staff members, Jack Stein, Ph.D., DESPR, and M. Patricia Needle, Ph.D., IP, and seven grantees who served as speakers: Sam Ball, Ph.D., Yale; Paul Roman, Ph.D., University of Georgia; James Sorensen, Ph.D., University of California at San Francisco; and Harry Wexler, Ph.D., Joann Sacks, Ph.D., Nancy Jainchill, Ph.D., and Stanley Sacks, Ph.D., all of National Development and Research Institutes, New York. Dr. Stein presented "Transferring Research to Practice through Partnerships" at the opening plenary session on behalf of NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. Dr. Needle moderated a panel of international drug abuse treatment experts from Spain, Colombia, Ukraine, Algeria, and Switzerland who addressed challenges to international research in drug abuse. The panel included two former Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows, Dr. Sergey Dvorak, Ukraine, and Dr. Malika Ait-Saada, Algeria. Drs. Stein and Needle also served as members of the scientific committee for the conference, which was held April 13-17, 2004 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and organized by the Spanish substance abuse treatment and prevention nongovernmental organization Proyecto Hombre in honor of its 20th anniversary.

NIDA co-sponsored an international symposium, Developing Global Strategies for Identifying, Prosecuting, and Treating Drug-Impaired Drivers, with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists [TIAFT], and the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety [ICADTS]. The multidisciplinary program, held February 23-24, 2004 in Tampa, Florida, assembled researchers, police officers, prosecutors, judges, and treatment providers from North America, Europe, and Australia to improve understanding of existing limitations on identifying, prosecuting, and treating drugged drivers, to reduce drugged driving by developing strategies that combine drug detection technology with legal penalties for driving under the influence, and to identify priorities for future research relating to drugged driving in the fields of epidemiology, treatment, education and prevention efforts, and new technologies. The NIDA International Program supported the participation of speakers, rapporteurs, panelists, and participants from nine nations. NIDA-supported speakers and rapporteurs included: Johan de Gier, Ph.D., President, International Council on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety, Oosterhout, Netherlands; Olaf Drummer, Ph.D., Head Scientific Services, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Australia; Alain Verstraete, Ph.D., University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; and Michel Willekens, Chief Inspector, Belgian Police, Ravels, Belgium. NIDA-supported panelists included: Pascal Kintz, Ph.D., Associate Director, Institut de Medecine Legal, Strasbourg, France; Manfred Moeller, Ph.D., and Miran Scheers, Institute of Legal Medicine, University of the Saarland, Homburg/Saar, Germany; Asbjorg Christophersen, Ph.D., and Jorg Morland, M.D., Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; Nele Samyn, Ph.D., Institut National de Criminalistique et Criminologie, Brussels, Belgium; Evan Graham, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Vancouver, Canada; and Phillip Swann, Ph.D., VicRoads and Swinburne University, Australia. NIDA-supported participants included: Dr. Gert De Boeck, NICC, Belgium; Teemu Gunnar and Pirjo Lillsunde, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland; Manuel Lopez-Rivadulla and Angelines Cruz, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Heikki Seppa, Helsingin Poliisilaitos, Helsinki, Finland; Marion Villain, Institut de Medecine Legal, Strasbourg, France; Karin Hammer, University of the Saarland, Homburg/Saar, Germany; Viviane Maes, Academic Hospital, University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium; and Hans-Jurgen Maurer, Saarland Police, Saarland, Germany.

Fellowships and Professional Development Activities

Richard E. Isralowitz, Ph.D., Israel, has received a NIDA Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Award to support his research visit to S. Lala Straussner, D.S.W., New York University, and Andrew Rosenblum, Ph.D., National Development and Research Institutes, New York. The scientists will identify appropriate methodology and data collection instruments that can be translated into Russian, conduct focus groups with treatment agency staff and substance-abusing U.S. immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, and begin preparing a NIDA grant proposal for a study of the psychosocial factors associated with drug abuse among Israeli immigrants from the Former Soviet Union. Dr. Isralowitz directs the Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources Center at Ben Gurion University, where he is responsible for the Israeli contributions to a drug abuse research program that promotes cooperation among Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and U.S. drug abuse experts. The Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, University of California, Los Angeles coordinates that program with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Two scientists have been selected as the 2004 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows: Aviv Weinstein, Ph.D., Israel, and Ignatius Praptoraharjo, M.S., Indonesia. The fellowships are co-sponsored by NIDA, the World Health Organization, and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) to support the participation of international researchers in the NIDA International Forum and the CPDD Annual Scientific Meeting. The Fellowship also supports brief research visits by the Fellows with NIDA grantees in the United States. Dr. Weinstein directs the PET/SPECT neuropsychiatric brain-imaging laboratory at Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, where he studies the effects of chronic ecstasy use on motor coordination and the brain's dopaminergic system and the effects of recreational marijuana use on orientation, coordination, and brain metabolism. Dr. Weinstein will use the WHO/NIDA/CPDD Fellowship to collaborate with David Gastfriend, M.D., Harvard University, on translating and prospectively testing the American Society of Addiction Medicine Patient Placement Criteria for use by drug and alcohol treatment facilities in Israel. Mr. Praptoraharjo conducts ethnographic research into the high-risk practices of Indonesian injection drug users as part of HIV/AIDS interventions conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Mr. Praptoraharjo will use the WHO/NIDA/CPDD Fellowship to discuss potential collaborative research with Wayne Wiebel, Ph.D., and his colleagues at UIC, receive additional training from the AIDS International Training Research Program at UIC, and develop a grant proposal to adapt the Indigenous Leader Outreach Model for use in the different cultural and drug-using contexts of Indonesia.

Former NIDA Distinguished International Scientist and Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellow, Petra Exnerova, M.D., Czech Republic, presented an update on the delivery of substance abuse treatment services in the Czech Republic at the February 23, 2004 DESPR Seminar Series. She met with NIDA staff in the Services Research and Prevention Research Branches, DESPR, to discuss Czech research projects on which she might collaborate with NIDA grantees. Dr. Exnerova also attended the February 24, 2004 SAMHSA meeting for CSAT Adolescent Portfolio Grantees in Baltimore.

In March 2004, NIDA hosted an orientation program for the current NIDA Distinguished International Scientist, INVEST Research Fellows, and Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows. The fellows visited the IRP on Thursday, March 4, meeting with Kenzie Preston, Ph.D.; Stephen Heishman, Ph.D.; Wallace Pickworth, Ph.D.; Marilyn Huestis, Ph.D.; David Epstein, Ph.D.; Eric Moolchan, M.D.; Alane Kimes, Ph.D.; and Elliot Stein, Ph.D. On Friday, March 5, Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., and M. Patricia Needle, Ph.D., IP, welcomed the attendees to NIDA headquarters and discussed the International Program's activities. The following NIDA staff summarized the Institute's research mission: Frank Vocci, Ph.D., DTR&D; David Shurtleff, Ph.D., DNBR; Jacques Normand, Ph.D., CAMCODA; Peter Delaney, Ph.D., DESPR; and Ling Chin, M.D., M.P.H., CCTN. A seminar, Introduction to the NIH Research Grant Process, featured presentations by Mark Swieter, Ph.D., Office of Extramural Affairs; David Thomas, Ph.D., DNBR; and Natalie Tomitch, M.P.H., M.B.A., Fogarty International Center. Attendees who summarized their NIDA-supported research efforts included Distinguished International Scientist Richard Isralowitz, Ph.D., Israel; and INVEST Fellows Lan Zhang, M.D., China; Pajulo Marjaterttu, M.D., Ph.D., Finland; and Yufeng Chen, Ph.D., China. Participating Humphrey Fellows included: Ana Djordjevic, M.D., Serbia and Montenegro; Mariano Hembra, M.D., Philippines; Raminder Kaur, MBBS, M.P.M., Malaysia; Boris Lobodov, M.D., Russia; David Otiashvili, M.D., Georgia; Riza Sarasvita, Magister Sains, Indonesia; Vladimir Stempliuk, M.S., Brazil; Cheng-Hua Tian, M.D., China; and Tomas Zabransky, MUDr. Ph.D., Czech Republic.

Travel Support

NIDA supported two international researchers who participated in the Society for Prevention Research 12th Annual Meeting, "Crossing Borders: Linking Prevention Science, Policy and Practice," May 25-28, 2004 in Quebec City, Canada. The NIDA-supported researchers were Amador Calafat, M.D., IREFREA (Research Institute on Child and Youth Risk Factors), Palma de Mallorca, Spain; and Lisa Wegner, M.Sc. O.T., University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

International Visitors

A group from the Mentor Foundation visited NIDA on March 3, 2004. The Mentor Foundation works in several countries to identify best practices in the prevention of drug abuse. Visitors included Jeff Lee, MEd., United Kingdom, Ken Winters, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Diana Cerón Otoya, Colombia, Maria Christina Garcia, Colombia, and Richard MacKenzie, Ph.D., UCLA. Steve Gust, Ph.D., International Program, Shakeh Kaftarian, Ph.D and Eve Reider, Ph.D., DESPR met the group.

Visiting NIDA from Brazil on March 9, 2004 were Judge Cristina Olimpio and Cristina Werner. The purpose of the visit was to find out about NIDA's drug abuse prevention research, with particular emphasis on the prevention services research as it relates to young offenders. Speaking with the visitors from DESPR were Shakeh Kaftarian, Ph.D. and Redonna Chandler, Ph.D.

Other Activities

Before coming to NIDA, M. Patricia Needle, Ph.D., IP, was Director, China Center, University of Minnesota, for 13 years. During January she returned to Minneapolis as an honored guest at ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the China Center and celebrating the history and achievement of the exchanges supported through the Center. While in the Twin Cities, Dr. Needle also visited with NIDA grantees and made a presentation to the staff of Addiction Medicine on the theme of "Current Status of the Epidemic of HIV Among Injection Drug Users: A Global Perspective."

Dr. Shakeh Kaftarian of DESPR has been convening meetings and conference calls with Dr. Irina Pervova of Russia and US research teams to assist in the establishment of collaborative research linkages between US prevention researchers and their Russian counterparts.

Dr. Jack Stein, DESPR, presented the keynote address at the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities Conference, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, April 13-17, 2004.

Peter Hartsock, Ph.D., participated in a Center for Strategic and International Studies symposium to establish a cooperative consortium dealing with prevention/intervention of HIV/AIDS in the former Soviet Union, March 5, 2004, Washington, D.C.

Peter Hartsock, Ph.D., participated in meetings at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences dealing with increased research cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in dealing with HIV/AIDS, March 8, 2004, Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Iván Montoya, DTR&D, presented at a workshop entitled "Pharmacotherapies for Drug Addiction" at the First Ibero-American Congress on Addictions, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The title of his presentation was "Pharmacotherapy for Cocaine Dependence."

Dr. Steven Goldberg, Chief, Preclinical Pharmacology Section, Behavioral Neuroscience Branch was invited to meet with Dr. Patrizia Popoli and colleagues, Pharmacology Department, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome, Italy, on March 15-17, 2004 and March 21-22, 2004, to give a presentation entitled, "Cross talk between cannabinoid and opioid systems" and to review data collected as part of a highly productive, ongoing, collaborative research program with NIDA, IRP, on adenosinergic mechanisms underlying the behavioral effects of caffeine and other psychostimulants. Dr. Goldberg was also invited to visit Prof. Vincenzo Di Marzo of the Istituto di Chimica Biolecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, in Naples, Italy, March 19-20, 2004, to present his findings on cross talk between cannabinoid and opioid systems and to review new data on the potential role the proposed new cannabinoid CB3 receptors and the vanilloid VR1 receptors play in the actions of THC and the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide. A start was made in designing a future collaborative research program between NIDA, IRP, and their institute for investigation of endogenous cannabinoid and vanilloid ligands.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis of the Chemistry and Drug Metabolism Section, IRP, recently hosted scientists from the Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology. The Society is trying to establish quality assurance programs for toxicology laboratories throughout the country. These laboratories are responsible for post-mortem, emergency, clinical, and analytical toxicology in Japan. This includes drug treatment, driving under the influence of drugs, in utero drug exposure, and drug toxicity applications.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis, IRP, recently attended a multinational conference on "Developing Global Strategies for Identifying, Prosecuting, and Treating Drug-Impaired Drivers" held in Tampa, FL. There is strong international interest in improving public safety by removing drivers who are operating motor vehicles while under the influence of drugs from our roads. In addition, identification of the drugged driver is seen as an opportunity for treatment interventions. As the number of alcohol impaired drivers decreases, the number of drug-impaired drivers is increasing significantly. The meeting was sponsored by NIDA, the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis serves on the US Anti-doping Research Advisory Board, which oversees research projects and grants on new analytical methods, ethics in sport, and establishment of anti-doping policy. Each year the US Anti-doping Agency has an international meeting on different aspects of anti-doping in sports. Representatives of most of the International Olympic Committee certified laboratories and from the different sporting societies, as well as experts in hematology, diagnostics, the World Anti-doping Agency and the Research Advisory Board attended this congress. This meeting focused on "Oxygen Transport Enhancing Agents and Methods" and included detection of recombinant erythropoetin, darbopoetin, blood transfusions, high altitude training, blood substitutes, and establishment of normal group ranges and individual normal ranges.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis chaired the Neuropsychopharmacology of Cannabinoids in Humans symposium at the International Brain Research Organization's 6th World Congress of Neuroscience in Prague, Czech Republic. This symposium addressed the pharmacology of the CB1-cannabinoid receptor antagonist rimonabant and its potential therapeutic indications for obesity, nicotine cessation and as a treatment adjunct for alcohol, cocaine and cannabis dependence. Dr. Huestis also gave a presentation on the Effects of Cannabis on Human Performance and Behavior at the Medical School of Charles University, Prague. Many of the public health and safety concerns about cannabis use during operation of a car or machinery were addressed.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis addressed the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences on the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of cannabis in Vancouver, Canada. In addition, she was asked to brief the US Consulate General and his senior staff on the same topic. High potency cannabis grown in British Columbia has become a major issue for the US Consulate in Vancouver.


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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