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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > May, 2009 Index    

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - May, 2009

Media and Education Activities

Press Releases

February 2, 2009 - NIDA Study Shows That Methylphenidate (Ritalin) Causes Neuronal Changes in Brain Reward Areas. Investigators funded by NIDA have shown that the medication methylphenidate (Ritalin), which is commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can cause physical changes in neurons in reward regions of mouse brains - in some cases, these effects overlapped with those of cocaine. Both methylphenidate and cocaine are in the class of drugs known as psychostimulants. While methylphenidate is widely prescribed, this study highlights the need for more research into its long-term effects on the brain. These research findings were published February 3, 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

March 4, 2009 - Combination of Genes and Prenatal Exposure to Smoking Increases Teens' Risk of Disruptive Behavior. A study funded by NIDA shows that prenatal exposure to smoking combined with a specific genetic variant places children at greatest risk for behavioral problems. Many studies have established that there is an increased risk of aggressive behavior in children exposed to cigarette smoke before birth, a significant problem given that many women still smoke during pregnancies. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2006-2007 slightly more than 16 percent of pregnant women aged 15-44 (426,000) were current cigarette smokers.

March 16, 2009 - Study Helps Unravel Mysteries of Brain's Endocannabinoid System. New research funded by NIDA has identified a new mechanism for the processing of endocannabinoids, natural brain compounds similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The results of this study, led by researchers from Stony Brook University, were published March 16, 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research News

Full NewsScans can be seen at

January 12, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #58 - Research News

  • Contingency Management Helps Pregnant Women Abstain From Smoking
  • Higher Prevalence of Sexual Risk Behavior Found in Teens Not Attending College
  • Lofexidine Reduces Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
  • Dopamine Helps Balance Striatal Synaptic Plasticity
  • Substance Abusers' Brains Hypersensitive to Normal Rewards
  • Increased Hormone Processing in the Brain May Result in Transition From Drug Use to Drug Abuse
  • Defects in Dopamine-Regulating Mechanisms Found in Obese Rats
  • Cocaine-Induced Cellular Stress Inhibits Neural Development

February 27, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #59 - Research News

  • First-Year College Students Show High Rate of Cannabis Use Disorders
  • Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants Among First-Year College Students
  • Graphic Warnings Change Viewers' Perception of Tobacco Advertisements
  • Parental Monitoring Reduces High School Drinking, Leading to Reduced College Drinking
  • Higher Prevalence of Sexual Risk Behavior Found in Teens Not Attending College

March 24, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #60 - Research News

  • Hepatitis C Virus Can Be Transmitted by Drug Use Through the Nose
  • Smoking Cessation More Difficult for African-Americans, Hispanics
  • Adolescent Mouse Brains More Sensitive to Oxycodone Than Adult Brains
  • Brain Activity Prior to Drug Treatment May Predict Treatment Outcomes for Cocaine Addiction
  • Family-Based Intervention Improves Children's Early Problem Behavior
  • Social Contexts of College Drinking Explored
  • HealthWise Program Tested for Reduction of Substance Use and Risky Sexual Behavior in South African Schools
  • DNA Variation Influences Neural Response to Negative Stimuli

Interviews & Articles of Interest

December 15, 2008, Marie Claire -- Interview with Dr. Gaya Dowling, OSPC, about the effects of illicit drugs on dopamine levels.

January 5, 2009, Reuters/Thomson -- Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about NIDA military meeting.

January 13 and 21, 2009, Scientific American -- Two interviews with Dr. Nora Volkow, one about study regarding obesity and gender and the other about a JAMA paper and addiction treatment in the criminal justice system.

January 13, 2009, Nature -- Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about the science of addiction.

January 16, 2009, Maxim -- Interview with Dr. Richard Denisco, DESPR, about adolescents and prescription drug abuse.

January 28, 2009, Associated Press -- Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton, DESPR, about NESARC data used in paper published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

January 28, 2009, Radio Health Journal -- Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton, DESPR, about article in Nature on cognitive-enhancing drugs.

February 3, 2009, National Public Radio "On Point" -- Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about cognitive-enhancing drugs.

February 3, 2009, Reuters - Chicago bureau -- Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about news release on Methylphenidate.

February 4, 2009, New York Times -- Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton, DESPR, about new RAND study on the economic cost of methamphetamine use in the U.S.

February 19, 2009, AARP Bulletin -- Interview with Dr. Timothy Condon about rising prescription drug abuse and risk factors among seniors.

February 24, 2009, Glamour -- Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about the growing acceptance and use of prescription medications among young women without a prescription.

March 3, 2009, Science Magazine -- Interview with Dr. Steven Grant, DCNBR, about deep brain stimulation as a treatment for addiction and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

February 2009, Dr. Steven R. Goldberg, IRP, was interviewed by the BBC in the documentary Horizon broadcast in Europe.

Outreach Activities

Brain Awareness Week
NIDA once again participated in Brain Awareness Week activities at the National Museum of Health and Medicine on March 18-19, 2009. This year marked the 10th anniversary of Brain Awareness Week as well as NIDA's participation in the activities. NIDA played "NIDA Brain Derby," an interactive game, with students from middle school through high school. Students were divided into two teams that then competed by answering quiz questions on a variety of topics related to how drugs act in the brain. The students had a great time and seemed to learn as they played. NIDA participants included Dave Thomas, Dave White, Allison Hoffman, Roger Sorenson, Jane Acri, Denise Pintello, and Cathrine Sasek.

NIDA Goes Back to School Presentation
March 21, 2009 — To encourage teachers to use NIDA youth education materials, Brian Marquis of NIDA's Public Information and Liaison Branch presented a "NIDA Goes Back to School" (NGBTS) workshop at the National Science Teachers Association annual conference in New Orleans, LA. More than 70 teachers attended the workshop, and each participant received a copy of the powerpoint presentation detailing the NGBTS materials and how they can be used as supplements to the curriculum the teachers are using.

NIDAMED To Be Launched
NIDA is set to unveil NIDAMED, an initiative to give medical professionals tools and resources to screen their patients for substance use, in conjunction with NIDA's recently updated Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment: A Research Based Guide. The products, including an online screening tool and resource guide, will be unveiled during a morning press conference and an afternoon state-of-the-science meeting entitled "The Science of Recognizing and Treating Substance Abuse and Addiction." The event took place April 20, 2009. Additional information will appear in the next Director's Report.

New NIDA Videos are Available
To help make the NIDA Teen Website more fun, and to make NIDA's science more accessible to youth, the Office of Science Policy and Communications produced three creative videos in which some of NIDA's scientists speak directly to teens. The videos feature Drs. Ruben Baler, Joseph Frascella, Gaya Dowling, and Redonna Chandler discussing the latest scientific understanding of the risks of using steroids, marijuana, and nicotine in an entertaining and educational style. The videos will be offered to other sites, such as The Research Channel and NIH's YouTube site. To view the videos, go to the links below.

Additional Highlights

On January 8, 2009, Dr. Gregory Farber, Senior Health Scientist Administrator in the Division of Biomedical Technology, NCRR, presented the CCTN Classroom seminar on "BIRN: A Solution for your Data Sharing Problems." NIH has created two significant data sharing infrastructures: BIRN (the Biomedical Informatics Research Network) and caBIG. In this talk, the two infrastructures were briefly described. Uses of the BIRN infrastructure for sharing data of relevance to biomedical researchers were discussed. Finally, the relationship of the BIRN to other informatics initiatives supported by the Neuroscience Blueprint (the Neuroscience Information Framework, NIF and NITRC, the Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse) was described.

On March 12, 2009, Richard A. Elion, M.D., Director of Research at Whitman Walker Clinic, Washington, DC and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine presented the CTN Classroom seminar. His presentation titled "Treatment as Prevention: A time for change" gave a description of his experience with treatment of HIV positive patients from the HIV clinic perspective.


NIDA's MTV-style video of Director Dr. Nora Volkow's conversation about the science of addiction with high school students in Harlem, New York has won a national Aegis Award. The Aegis Awards is one of the few video competitions that features true peer judging by fellow producers, directors, cameramen, editors, and other professionals who work in the video/film industry. The video, produced by the Office of Science Policy and Communications, can be viewed at

Recent and Upcoming Conference Exhibits

American Medical Student Association (AMSA) 59th Annual Convention
March 12-15, 2009 -- Arlington, VA

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) 57th Annual Conference
March 19-21, 2009 -- New Orleans, LA

American Counseling Association (ACA)
March 19-23, 2009 -- Charlotte, NC

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD)
March 31 - April 4, 2009 -- Tampa, FL

The Society for Research and Child Development (SCRD) Biennial Meeting
April 2-4, 2009 -- Denver, CO

39th National Council Conference
April 5-8, 2009 -- San Antonio, TX

American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) National Conference
April 25-29, 2009 -- New York, NY

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) 40th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference
April 30 - May 3, 2009 -- New Orleans, LA

American Psychiatric Association (APA) 162nd Annual Meeting
May 16-21, 2009 -- San Francisco, CA

National Association of Drug Court Professionals 15th Annual Training Conference
June 10-13, 2009 -- Anaheim, CA

National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH)
June 10-12, 2009 -- Phoenix, AZ

National Association of School Nurses (NASN) 41st Annual Conference
June 25-29, 2009 -- Boston, MA


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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