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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - May, 2005

International Activities

DISCA-Supported Research Supports Fluoxetine as Pharmacotherapy for Methamphetamine; DISCA Team Awarded Additional Binational Funding
Preliminary results from research conducted under the NIDA Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awards (DISCA) suggest that fluoxetine has therapeutic effects on methamphetamine self-administration. The researchers, NIDA 2004 Distinguished International Scientist Dr. Kazutaka Ikeda, Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, Japan, and Dr. Athina Markou, The Scripps Research Institute, have received a 3-year grant from the U.S. - Japan Brain Research Cooperation Program as well as additional support from the Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry and the Japanese Society of Pharmacopoeia. Dr. Ikeda's DISCA award supported his research exchange visit with Dr. Markou to learn research techniques and conduct experiments on intravenous self-administration of methamphetamine in mice. The preliminary results of their experiments suggest that fluoxetine significantly reduced methamphetamine self-administration, and led to their joint application to the U.S. - Japan Brain Research Cooperation Program. The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences organized the joint brain research program; the NIDA International Program has contributed support. In addition to the binational funding, The Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry granted Dr. Ikeda a 4 million yen budget to purchase equipment and the Japanese Society of Pharmacopoeia supported research exchange visits with Dr. Markou for two of Dr. Ikeda's colleagues, Drs. Yukio Takamatsu and Shinya Kasai.

NIDA Helps Fund First fMRI in Africa
NIDA and the University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg, South Africa, have installed the continent's first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) system. The installation was part of an ongoing collaboration between Dr. Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd, Harvard Medical School, and the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders at the University of Stellenbosch, which is directed by Dr. Daniel Stein. The binational research team will use fMRI to examine neurobiological correlates of cognitive dysfunctions observed in cannabis and cannabis/methaqualone abusers, their discordant siblings, and normal controls. NIDA's Southern Africa Initiative funded the project with an administrative supplement to Dr. Yurgelun-Todd's parent grant: "Residual Cognitive Effects of Cannabis: An fMRI Study." In addition to the fMRI equipment, the researchers installed fMRI paradigm presentation software that runs simultaneously with the MR scanner protocol designed to measure fMRI blood oxygen dependent level (BOLD) signal during presentation of cognitive tasks, such as spatial working memory and response inhibition paradigms. The system includes a triggering device that interfaces with a computer workstation and an LCD projector. Staff from the MRC group was trained to use the fMRI presentation software, deliver instructions to subjects in both Afrikaans and English, score patient responses, and analyze the behavioral data. To meet the NIDA Southern Africa Initiative goal of establishing collaborative projects that allow mutual use of a shared database, the researchers collected complete fMRI data sets during the visit to verify system functioning, data transfer, and processing.

Two Scientists Named 2005 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows
Former NIDA INVEST Fellow Dr. Raka Jain, India, and Dr. Paulo Cunha, Brazil, have been selected as the 2005 WHO/NIDA/CPDD International Traveling Fellows. 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. Jain, a professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, will work with Dr. Mike Baumann, IRP, on in vivo microdialysis techniques to correlate behavioral changes with neurotransmitter release rates. Dr. Cunha, an associate investigator in neuropsychology at the University of So Paulo, will visit NIDA's functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography facilities, working with Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, IRP, to assess the long-term effects of drugs of abuse on neurocognition. He will also visit Dr. Karen I. Bolla, Johns Hopkins University, to learn about Dr. Bolla's research on sleep disturbance in marijuana withdrawal.

NIDA Hosts INVEST and Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows
NIDA hosted a March 17-18 orientation program for the 2005 INVEST Research Fellows, Dr. Marco Bortolato, University of Cagliari, Monserrato, Italy, and Dr. Liliana Cancela, University of Cordoba, Argentina. During their visit to the IRP, the INVEST Fellows toured the imaging facilities, Residential Treatment Unit, Archway Clinic, and Teen Tobacco Clinic. They also met with the following IRP scientists: Dr. Kenzie Preston, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research Branch; Dr. David Gorelick, Clinical Pharmacology Section and Residential Unit; Dr. David Epstein, treatment of heroin and cocaine dependence with contingency management; Dr. Eric Moolchan, introduction to adolescent tobacco addiction and its treatment; Dr. Constance Murphy, applications of LC-MS to clinical research at NIDA; and Dr. Alane Kimes, PET Center. At NIDA headquarters, Dr. Bortolato, who is working with Dr. Daniele Piomelli, University of California, Irvine, to evaluate the role of endocannabinoids in the effects of psychostimulants, also met with Dr. Pushpa V. Thadani and Paul Hillery, DBNBR. Dr. Cancela, who is working with Dr. Peter Kalivas, Medical University of South Carolina, to investigate stress- and drug-induced neuroadaptations, met with Dr. Nancy S. Pilotte, Functional Neuroscience Research Branch, DBNBR. The current Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows joined the INVEST Fellows for a March 18 grant-writing symposium that featured presentations by: Dale Weiss, IP; Dr. Mark Swieter, Office of Extramural Affairs; Dr. David Thomas, DBNBR; Ms. Natalie Tomitch, Fogarty International Center; and Dr. Yuan Liu, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Travel Support

  • NIDA supported the participation of three researchers at the Global Tobacco preconference satellite to the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco annual meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, March 20-23, 2005. The NIDA travel awards supported Shahadat Hossain and Monsurul Haque of Bangladesh and Maisara Abdelrazig of Sudan. The satellite meeting featured a poster session and presentations on networking, capacity building, and advocacy supporting the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Presenters included former NIDA INVEST Fellow Dr. Neo Morojele, South Africa.
  • NIDA supported a symposium, "Agonist Medications for the Treatment of Cocaine Abuse" at the Seventh Annual Neurochemistry Winter Conference in Innsbruck, Austria, on April 8, 2005. Travel support was awarded to three presenters, Dr. Steve Negus, McLean Hospital-Harvard Medical School; Dr. Leonard Howell, Emory University; and Dr. John Grabowski, University of Texas Health Science Center.
  • NIDA supported preconference satellites, a plenary session, and symposia at the 2005 International Society of Addiction Medicine meeting. Preconference satellites were held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 19-20, 2005; the full conference convened in Mar del Plata, Argentina, April 21-24, 2005. Presenters at the NIDA sessions included Dr. Carlos Rios-Bedoya, Ponce School of Medicine, Puerto Rico; Dr. Edith Serfaty, Center of Epidemiological Research, Argentine National Academy of Sciences; and the following NIDA scientists: Drs. Frank Vocci, Ahmed M. Elkashef, Ivan Montoya, and Jag Khalsa (all of DPMCDA).
  • NIDA supported the participation of 3 researchers in the Society of Neuroscientists of Africa Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa, April 20-22, 2005. Travel support was awarded to three presenters, Dr. Peter Kalivas, Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. Linda Porrino, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; and Dr. Anto Bonci, University of California, San Francisco.

IP Redesigns International Web Site
The NIDA International Program has introduced a new web page that streamlines access to announcements about the Institute's activities in the international drug abuse research community. Sections focus on announcements, research training and exchange opportunities, research funding, and information and resources for researchers. Past issues of the new IP E-News Letter are archived on the site. Access the redesigned NIDA International Program web page at

International Visitors

Professor Dr. Pavel Abraham, President of the Romanian Anti-Drug Agency visited NIDA on February 3, 2005. Accompanying Dr. Abraham was Raluca Golumbeanu, Political Officer at the Embassy of Romania in Washington, DC and Mr. Dan Gheorghita. Meeting with this group from NIDA were Dr. Steve Gust and Ms. Dale Weiss, IP. Dr. Abraham updated NIDA on the current work being done by the Romanian Anti-Drug Agency.

A group of visitors from several Asia-Pacific countries visited NIDA on February 17, 2005. The visitors included Dr. Syahrizal Syarif, Indonesia, Mr. Mohd Yunus Pathi, Malaysia, Mr. Dato' Zainuddin Bahari, Malaysia, Mr. Fadilan Kayong, Singapore and Mr. Tay Bian How, Sri Lanka. Meeting with the group from NIDA was Dr. Ahmed Elkashef, DPMCDA and Dr. Steven W. Gust, IP. The visitors discussed the accomplishments and goals of the Colombo Plan, an organization involved in drug abuse prevention in the Asian-Pacific area.

On February 24, 2005 a group of the visitors from the National Peace Foundation (NPF) came to NIDA to talk about the mission of the NPF and the drug treatment work that is being done by the organization in the Ural mountain region of Russia. Representing the NPF were Jeanne Smith, Sarah Harder, Marjorie Lightman and Corinne Gerwe.

Emran Razzaghi, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, visited NIDA on February 23, 2005. Dr. Razzaghi is a current 2004-5 World Fellow at Yale University. Dr. Razzaghi gave an interesting talk about the history and current state of drug addiction in Iran.

The Chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), Major Brian Watters, visited NIDA on March 1, 2005. Accompanying Major Watters was Gino Vumbaco, Executive Officer of the ANCD. Major Watters and Mr. Vumbaco met with Drs. Steven Gust, IP, Frank Vocci, DPMCDA and Wilson Compton, DESPR during their visit.

The Honorable Marion Caspers-Merk, Drug Commissioner of the German Federal Government visited NIDA on March 29, 2005. Mrs. Ines Meyer, Mr. Werner Sipp, Mrs. Susanne Wackers, and Mr. Michael Mersmann of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany accompanied Mrs. Caspers-Merk. Meeting with the visitors from Germany were Steve Gust and Dale Weiss, IP, Eve Reider, DESPR, and David McCann, DPMCDA. Also attending the meeting was Ms. Peggy Quinn, SAMSHA.

A group of demand reduction specialists from Haiti visited NIDA on April 5, 2005. Representing NIDA at this meeting were Liz Ginexi, Aria Crump and Dionne Jones, DESPR and Dale Weiss, IP.

On April 5, 2005 Dale Weiss, IP represented NIDA at a meeting that was held at the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Addiction. The meeting was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State as part of the Voluntary Visitor Program for nine officers from the National Council Against Drug Addiction (CONADIC) of Mexico.

Participants in a U.S. Department of State sponsored International Visitor Leadership Program visited NIDA on April 8, 2005. All participants in the Program were from Western Hemisphere countries. Meeting with the group were Ana Anders, SPO, Jan Lipkin, PILB and Dale Weiss, IP. Countries represented included Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.

Other International Activities

Dr. Wilson Compton, Director, DESPR, participated in a joint meeting of Dutch and U.S. demand reduction policy and research experts January 15-28, 2005 in The Netherlands.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, participated in The Annual Campbell Collaboration Colloquium titled Supply and Demand for Evidence, from February 23 -25, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal. The meeting included representatives from over 20 countries and was hosted by the University of Lisbon.

Dr. David McCann, DPMCDA, served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting in Vienna, Austria from March 7 to 11, 2005. An ongoing discussion related to the possible rescheduling of buprenorphine at the international level (toward increased regulatory control) was the major reason for NIDA's participation. While the rescheduling of buprenorphine was not addressed at this year's meeting, the issue will be addressed at the 2006 CND meeting if the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) recommends a change. The next WHO ECDD meeting has been tentatively scheduled for mid-October, 2005. Dr. McCann is serving as NIDA's point person to the HHS OD related to international drug scheduling issues and, along with representatives from FDA and SAMHSA, is providing input for HHS planning related to future ECDD and CND meetings.

A March 23, 2005 symposium entitled "New Medications for Smoking Cessation: Beyond NRT and Bupropion" was organized and chaired by Dr. David McCann. The symposium was part of the SRNT meeting in Prague. Four new medications under clinical evaluation for smoking cessation were reviewed and the latest available clinical data were presented. Dr. Tony George presented on selegiline (and MAO-B inhibitor), Dr. Bernard LeFoll presented on BP 897 (a D3 partial agonist), Dr. Steven Sands presented on varenicline (an alpha-4-beta-2 nicotine receptor partial agonist), and Dr. Raymond Niaura presented on rimonabant (a CB-1 receptor blocker). Dr. John Cryan (Novartis) served as the discussant, covering other biological targets (other receptors, enzymes and ion channels) that hold promise for future medications discovery and development efforts related to smoking cessation.

Dr. Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA, was invited to participate as a keynote speaker of the XXXII Annual Meeting of the Spanish Society of Drug and Alcohol (Sociodrogalcohol), in Ciudad Real, Spain.


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

In Memoriam

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