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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > May, 2010 Index    

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - May, 2010

International Activities

Funding Initiatives

International Training Grant Program Receives U.S. Economic Stimulus Funds
The Fogarty International Center (FIC) will commit up to $2.7 million that it received in U.S. economic stimulus funds in FY 2010 for 6 to10 awards that will provide short-term support to U.S. universities and their partners. The purpose of the awards is to create infrastructure, resources, and opportunities for training postdoctoral investigators to carry out innovative, multidisciplinary team research in global health. The initiative emphasizes problem-solving, collaborative, and hands-on approaches and may require the development of new training models and new partnerships within and beyond the university community. The NIH Resource-Related Research Project (R24) will award up to $250,000 in direct costs for a single academic institution or $400,000 in direct costs for a consortium. Because U.S. economic stimulus funds had been made available for international research projects for the first time and the period for submitting letters of intent was unusually short, NIDA IP personally notified potentially eligible grantees about the opportunity.

Binational Agreement

U.S., Mexico Issue Joint Declaration on Demand Reduction
The United States and Mexico issued a joint declaration of cooperation on drug demand reduction efforts that underscored a commitment to reduce illicit drug consumption and the need to work collaboratively with each other and additional partners in the region. The declaration emphasized the importance of both countries intensifying efforts to prevent and treat substance abuse disorders. The two nations agreed to address six areas of improvement within the next 12 months: developing strong families and communities that resist criminal organizations and promote a culture of lawfulness; providing more and better addiction treatment by integrating it into mainstream medicine; expanding screening, brief intervention, and referral to substance abuse treatment; implementing evidence-based practices; bolstering accreditation and licensing programs; and promoting innovations in criminal justice to reduce recidivism and interrupt the cycle of drug use and crime. Both nations pledged to continue domestic initiatives to reduce the demand for drugs through the United States' National Drug Control Strategy and Mexico's Action Program for Prevention and Treatment of Addictions. The joint declaration, which is available online at, was issued at the conclusion of the 8th U.S.-Mexico Bi-National Drug Demand Reduction Policy Meeting, which was held at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 23-25, 2010. NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow and Dr. Mar’a Elena Medina Mora, Mexican National Institute of Psychiatry, spoke about scientific advances in a session entitled "How Science has Revolutionized the Understanding of Drug Addiction" that was moderated by NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Timothy P. Condon. IP Director Dr. Steven W. Gust and Dr. Armando Patr—n, CONADIC, co-chaired a session on "Collaborative Research Activities in Treatment and Prevention" that featured presentations by Dr. Betty Tai, CTN, and Dr. Jacqueline Lloyd, DESPR, as well as several NIDA grantees. NIDA IP supported the travel of Dr. Melanie Domenech Rodr’guez, Utah State University, who spoke about adapting a NIDA-supported prevention intervention and implementing it in Mexico.

NIDA Offers Tuition Waiver to Dutch Addiction Program Summer Institute
NIDA IP will provide one tuition waiver to a U.S. participant, and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) will provide five tuition waivers for participants from new European Union countries at the Dutch Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction. The Summer Institute is a joint initiative of ZonMw and the University of Amsterdam Graduate School of Social Sciences, which will host the program from July 4-16, 2010. The intensive, multidisciplinary program offers graduate-level and continuing professional development training in addiction research, while promoting opportunities for international networking. Course credits from the University of Amsterdam and continuing education credits for most disciplines are available.

Research Results

INVEST Fellow Validates Noninvasive Drug-Testing Methods
Dr. Marta Concheiro Guis‡n of Spain successfully used her recent INVEST fellowship to develop and validate two new, noninvasive methods of quantifying the level of licit and illicit drugs in biological samples from opiate-dependent patients. The new methods developed by Dr. Concheiro and her mentor, Dr. Marilyn Huestis, NIDA IRP, allow researchers to quantify quickly and simultaneously 16 drugs and their metabolites in oral fluid or 14 drugs and their metabolites in sweat patches. Dr. Concheiro and colleagues validated the methods using specimens from a group of pregnant women who were receiving buprenorphine therapy for opioid dependence within a joint Johns Hopkins University/NIDA IRP clinical trial comparing methadone versus buprenorphine treatment. Drs. Concheiro, Heustis, and their colleagues published several articles describing their innovation, including articles in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (2009) 394(2):513-522; Forensic Science International (2009) 188(1-3):144-145; Clinical Chemistry (2009) 55(6):1177-1187; Journal of Analytical Toxicology (2009) 33(5):243-252; and Journal of Chromatography B (2009) 877(27):3065-3071. Dr. Concheiro also presented her research at 2009 meetings of the Society of Forensic Toxicologists, International Association of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and NIDA International Forum. Dr. Concheiro, who is planning future collaborations with Dr. Huestis, has returned to research and teaching in the Forensic Toxicology Service at the University of Santiago de Compostela Faculty of Medicine.

NIH-Supported Meetings

Fogarty International Tobacco Research and Capacity Building Network Meeting
The 2010 meeting of the FIC International Tobacco Research and Capacity Building Network brought together FIC and other NIH grantees who conduct international tobacco research and/or research capacity building. Participants met February 23-24, 2010, on the NIH Campus to exchange information, share experiences on project management and research/training collaborations between domestic and foreign investigators, and foster connections between NIH grantees and other U.S. Government and international tobacco research initiatives and activities. Ms. Dale Weiss, IP, chaired a session that featured presentations by three NIDA grantees: Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, University of California San Francisco, Tobacco Control Research and Training in South America; Dr. Wasim Maziak, University of Memphis, Responding To the Changing Tobacco Epidemic in the Eastern Mediterranean Region; Dr. Isabel Scarinci, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Network for Tobacco Control Among Women in Parana, Brazil; and one FIC grantee: Dr. Jonathan M. Samet, Johns Hopkins University, Epidemiology and Intervention Research for Tobacco Control in China. Ms. Weiss also introduced Joe Perpich, M.D., J.D., and Jeff McAllister of JGPerpich, LLC, who presented on the NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory (NIVC), its available tools, Collaboration Matching Service, and various working group activities.


DISCA and USDISCA Awards Support Research Collaborations
Senior drug abuse researchers from Taiwan and the United States have been named Distinguished International Scientists, receiving NIDA I P support to advance their collaborations with colleagues in the United States and Russia, respectively:

  • Hwei-Hsien Chen, Ph.D., a pharmacologist and toxicologist at Tzu Chi University, Taiwan, will work with Athina Markou, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, to investigate whether the reward-enhancing effects of the abused inhalant toluene occur in mice. Drs. Chen and Markou also will investigate how glutamatergic pharmacological manipulations that are available to treat humans may affect toluene-induced facilitation of brain reward function, an approach that could suggest eventual pharmacotherapies to prevent toluene abuse. Dr. Chen, who visited Dr. Markou's laboratory in San Diego, will concentrate on mastering the mouse intracranial self-stimulation procedure, which currently is unavailable in Taiwan.
  • Kenneth W. Griffin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Cornell University, will prepare a grant application with Irina Pervova, Ph.D., St. Petersburg State University, Russia, to propose a systematic program of NIH-funded research projects designed to export and adapt evidence-based U.S. prevention programs for Russian youth. Drs. Griffin and Pervova will propose to examine the etiology of substance abuse and HIV risk behavior among Russian youth, identify a U.S. prevention program for implementation in Russia, and implement and evaluate the adapted program in efficacy and effectiveness trials in St. Petersburg. Their collaboration grew out of a 2006 NIDA-funded conference where Dr. Pervova chaired the local organizing committee and Dr. Griffin helped plan the meeting and participated in it.

WHO/NIDA/CPDD Select International Traveling Fellows
NIDA has joined the World Health Organization (WHO) and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) in selecting two drug abuse scientists from developing countries as recipients of International Traveling Fellowship Awards. The awards will support a 1-week research visit with a NIDA-supported research grantee and participation in the NIDA International Forum and the CPDD Annual Scientific Meeting in June 2010. The two International Traveling Fellows are:

  • Irma Kirtadze, M.D., Georgia, focuses on HIV prevention among drug users, particularly inhalant users, stimulant injectors, and needle exchange program clients. She currently is leading a country wide HIV/AIDS prevention program among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Georgia. Dr. Kirtadze has had numerous papers published in peer-review journals and conference proceedings, including proceedings of the last three NIDA International Forums. She has been the recipient of a NIDA grant to study engaging non-treatment seeking drug abusing Georgian men as well as other NIDA travel awards. Dr. Kirtadze will visit Dr. Hendree Jones of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Dr. Wendee Wechsberg of RTI International, with whom she will study comprehensive approaches to HIV prevention and treatment with the goal of applying these methods to drug using women in Georgia.
  • Sun Hongqiang, M.D., M.S., China, has conducted research in the field of alcohol and drug dependence, including a published a study on the efficacy of nicotine sublingual tablets for nicotine dependent patients in China. He currently is exploring the effects of acute tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine depletion treatment on cue-induced alcohol urging in alcoholics. Under his travel fellowship, Dr. Sun plans to visit Dr. Thomas Kosten's laboratory and clinical programs at Baylor College of Medicine, Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, and MD Anderson Cancer Prevention Center in Houston, Texas. He will work with Drs. Thomas F. Newton and Richard De La Garza at Baylor and the VA Medical Center to learn more about basic research on alcohol dependence and its treatment, especially detoxification and relapse prevention. At MD Anderson under Dr. Paul Cinciripini's tutelage, he will learn about pharmacogenetics within the larger clinical smoking cessation trials being conducted in Houston.

Fellowship Orientation Brings Researchers from 13 Nations to NIDA
HHH Fellows from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), JHU, and Emory University joined NIDA INVEST and INVEST/CTN Fellows for an orientation program. Sixteen fellows from 12 nations, along with a Vietnamese graduate student at Emory University, participated in the orientation. NIDA IP Director Dr. Steven W. Gust and Associate Director Dale Weiss hosted the program to introduce the fellows to the Institute's international research priorities, NIDA and NIH resources for fellows, and collaboration and training tools developed by the NIDA IP. Participants also were introduced to a webinar series designed to help international researchers improve their scientific communication skills, the NIVC, and the Humphrey Fellowship Professional Affiliation Directory. Representatives from NIDA divisions and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration talked with the fellows about their offices' international research priorities and opportunities for collaborative international research. Fellows visited NIDA's IRP in Baltimore, where they met with key IRP staff and toured various facilities, including a laboratory, clinic, magnetic resonance imaging suite, and nicotine addiction and cognition outpatient testing rooms. Fellows also toured the National Library of Medicine and met with staff at the FIC.

Former NIDA Humphrey Fellow Directs Brazilian Integrated Prevention and Treatment Project
The Brazilian Ministry of Justice and the Brazilian Secretariat for Drug and Alcohol Policies has awarded a large grant to the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, to integrate drug abuse treatment and prevention programs in 60 counties in the states of Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Vitoria, and Brasilia. Former NIDA HHH Fellow Flavio Pechansky, M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc., Director of the Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, will coordinate the project. Researchers will identify and evaluate public, community, and private programs that already exist in these localities, mapping and georeferencing services to improve referral systems. The project will develop specialty training courses for approximately 6,000 health care and social work professionals in treatment and social rehabilitation of individuals with drug and alcohol abuse problems, particularly juveniles. The project also will educate more than 3,000 law enforcement officers and judiciary professionals about drug and alcohol issues. Researchers will conduct a wide array of studies aimed specifically at crack users and at-risk pregnant women and their newborns.

Former NIDA Humphrey Fellow Receives Alumni Professional Development Grant
The Institute of International Education awarded a Hubert H. Humphrey Alumni Professional Development Grant that enabled former NIDA Humphrey Fellow Dr. Peter Kenneth Ndege, Kenya, to attend the International Harm Reduction Association 21st conference, Harm Reduction 2010, held April 25-29, 2010, in Liverpool, England. Currently a lecturer at Kenya Methodist University, Dr. Ndege was a 2006-2007 HHH fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University. He used the skills and experience gained during his fellowship to form the non-government organization Center for Addiction Studies in Africa, which trained 70 primary healthcare clinicians in the diagnosis and management of drug use disorders. He also established Eastern Medical Consultants Limited, which is committed to providing specialized medical services to rural areas in Kenya at minimal charge. Dr. Ndege currently is working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on the best way to introduce opiate substitution therapy and other harm reduction measures in Kenya, particularly among vulnerable populations such as IDUs, prisoners, and commercial sex workers. He expects to use the information gained from Harm Reduction 2010 not only to update his knowledge in this field but also to acquire skill and contacts in the area of policy making, so that he can help draft a policy paper on harm reduction in Kenya.

Online Initiatives

Newest Virtual Seminar Lecture Focuses on Neurobiology of Inhalant Misuse
The fourth in a series of Volatile Substance Abuse Virtual Seminars is ready for viewing. Silvia Cruz, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Cinvestav in Mexico, describes preclinical studies that have identified the effects of inhalants on behavior, the central nervous system, and cellular and molecular functions. She also briefly discusses the epidemiology of inhalant abuse in Mexico and the implications of preclinical research findings for treatment and prevention interventions. The seminars, which are available on the NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory and the NIDA International Program Web site, are being developed by a multinational working group of inhalant abuse researchers funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and supported by NIDA. Dr. Cruz's lecture is available here: Two additional lectures, one each from researchers in Canada and the United States, are being prepared.

Travel Support

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
NIDA IP provided partial travel support for the following individuals attending a meeting of the ASAM in San Francisco, California, on April 15-18, 2010.

  • Paul Haber, M.D., Australia, is Medical Director of the Drug Health Service at Sydney South West Area Health Services.
  • Felice Nava, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Committee Director for the Italian Society of Addiction Medicine and a consultant physician at the Department of Addiction Medicine, Hospital of Castelfranco Veneto.

ASAM covered the registration and room expenses for Drs. Haber and Nava.

Meeting on Drugged Driving
NIDA IP supported the participation of Dr. Inger Marie Bernhoft, from the Technical University of Denmark, at a one-day workshop on research needs related to drugs and driving, held on March 19, 2010, at the NIH campus. NIDA hosted the meeting to gain expert advice on the current state of the science and knowledge gaps in the field of drugged driving, which it will use to guide future research efforts. NIDA IP paid the travel expenses of Dr. Bernhoft, who described ongoing research being conducted under the Epidemiology Work Package of the Driving under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines (DRUID) project.

Kasr Al-Ainy Annual International Psychiatry Conference
NIDA IP supported the participation of Dr. Inger Marie Bernhoft, from the Technical University of Denmark, at a one-day workshop on research needs related to drugs and driving, held on March 19, 2010, at the NIH campus. NIDA hosted the meeting to gain expert advice on the current state of the science and knowledge gaps in the field of drugged driving, which it will use to guide future research efforts. NIDA IP paid the travel expenses of Dr. Bernhoft, who described ongoing research being conducted under the Epidemiology Work Package of the Driving under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol and Medicines (DRUID) project.

Kasr Al-Ainy Annual International Psychiatry Conference
NIDA IP supported the travel of Dr. Robert P. Schwartz of the Friends Research Institute to the Kasr Al-Ainy Annual International Psychiatry Conference, held in Cairo, Egypt, on February 24-25, 2010. Dr. Schwartz spoke on Pharmacotherapy for Opiate Addiction in Prison, during which he presented findings from his recently completed randomized clinical trial of methadone in prison and an early report from an ongoing clinical trial of buprenorphine for opiate-addicted prisoners.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded three CTN INVEST fellowships:

  • Suzanne Nielsen, Australia / Mentor Walter Ling, UCLA
  • Meera Vaswani, India / Mentor Wade Berrettini, Univ of Pennsylvania
  • Felipe Vallejo Reyes, Chile / Mentor Eugene Somoza, Univ of Cincinnati

Current CTN INVEST fellows presented reports to the CTN on January 29, 2010:

  • Dr. Mario Zapata, CES University, Medellin, Colombia (sponsor: Michael Robbins, University of Miami) presented a progress report on his fellowship.
  • Leonardo Estacio Jr., Philippines (Mentor: Dr. Dennis Donovan, University of Washington, Seattle, WA) presented his goals for the fellowship.

Other International Activities

Two visitors from Kazakhstan visited NIDA on February 18, 2010. Mr. Madiyar Kozhakhmet, Deputy Director, Youth Department, Ministry of Education and Science and Ms. Zhanar Rakysbayeva, Chief Inspector in Special Affairs, Prevention Service Department, Ministry of Interior Arrairs were on a tour sponsored by the Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program. Meeting with the visitors from NIDA were Dale Weiss, IP and Drs. Aria Crump, Rich Jenkins and Tom Brady, DESPR.

Dr. Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA and Cora Lee Wetherington, DBNBR participated in the 3rd International Conference of Women Mental Health in Medellin, Colombia on March 2-6, 2010.

Dr. Cora Lee Wetherington, DBNBR, gave two invited talks, "Gender Differences in Tobacco Addiction" and "Gender Aspects in Research on Drug Abuse" at the International Women's Medicine and Mental Health International Congress, Medelin, Colombia, March 2-7, 2010.

Dr. Wilson M. Compton, Director, DESPR, participated in the Binational US-Mexico Meeting on Demand Reduction, Washington, DC, February 23-25, 2010.

Dr. Wilson M. Compton chaired two panels and presented on "Setting the Stage for Prevention: Epidemiology of Illicit Drug Abuse" and "Understanding Addiction as a Brain Disease: Implications for the Drug-Crime Nexus", Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 7-8, 2010.

Drs. Wilson Compton and Eve Reider of DESPR and Mr. Kevin Haggerty of the University of Washington presented at a meeting on January 8, 2010 on "Evidence Based Prevention" that was held by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi National Rehabilitation Centre at the Emirates Palace Hotel, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The objectives of the meeting were: 1) to understand the drug disease burden and need for monitoring in developing addiction response; 2) to advocate policy makers on the importance of developing prevention programs integral to drug response; 3) to understand prevention principles and educate on Ôgood practices' in prevention, and 4) to mobilize decision makers and opinion leaders toward endorsing evidence based prevention programs. Dr. Compton presented on "Setting the Stage for Prevention: The Burden of Drug Abuse and Drug Abuse Surveillance and Monitoring, Dr. Reider presented on "Fundamentals of Drug Abuse Prevention: A Research Based Guide," and Mr. Haggerty presented on "Implementing School Based and Family Based Prevention."

Jan R. Anderson, Member of the Swedish Parliament, met with the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA on February 2, 2010, to discuss drug abuse prevention research.

Dr. Farida Allaghi, Executive Director of Mentor Arabia, and Trustee of the Mentor Foundation, visited with the Prevention Research Branch at NIDA on October 27, 2009. Mentor Arabia is a regional non-governmental organization which advocates for drug prevention and implements awareness-raising and training programs among Arab youth. The Mentor Foundation is an international non-government not for profit organization with a focus on the prevention of drug misuse and the promotion of health and well-being of young people. Mentor seeks to identify, support and share information on effective practice that will protect young people from the harm that drugs can cause.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) consultation on "Global Health in the 21st Century: Identifying the Big Priorities," October 14, 2009, Washington, D.C. Dr. Hartsock covered the use of applied epidemiology and advanced modeling to more accurately determine coming public health needs.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated in the Council on Foreign Relations' Global Health Program's consultation meeting, "AID for AIDS: Considering the Future of PEPFAR, December 3, 2009, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) consultation meeting on "The Future of Global HIV Treatment and Prevention," December 14, 2009, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated with Dr. Volkow and OAR/NIH in a teleconference with the Medical Research Council of South Africa on surging methamphetamine use in that country, December 15, 2009, Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated in a meeting of representatives of the Russian government and NIAID concerning HIV vaccine development and drug users, January 8, 2010, Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) consultation meeting on "Opportunities for Improving U.S.-Cuba Engagement in Health Policy," January 22, 2010, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Peter Hartsock served in the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) Working Group on Health, Demography, and the HIV Epidemic, and in the group on Borders, Biases, and Bio-Threats: Public Health Concerns and International Migration in the Russian Federation, February 16, 2010, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Roy Wise, IRP, presented a seminar entitled "Some anatomical substrates of reward prediction and relapse to addiction" at the Neurobiological Studies and Perspectives on Drug Addictions Symposium, April 15-18, 2010, Mexico City, Mexico.

Dr. Jonathan Katz, IRP, presented an invited seminar entitled "Atypical Dopamine Transport Inhibitors: Mechanisms Underlying Their Potential As Treatments For Cocaine Abuse." The talk was sponsored by the Centre for Advanced Research on Logic and Sensibility at Keio University, Mita Campus, Tokyo, March 14, 2010.

Dr. Jonathan Katz presented an invited seminar entitled "Behavior Analysis in the Age of Cognitive Neuroscience." The talk was invited by the Department of Psychology, Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan, March 13, 2010.

Dr. Jonathan Katz was invited to participate in a symposium held at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Japanese Pharmacological Society, March 16, 2010, Osaka, Japan. The symposium was chaired by Drs. Kohji Takada and Shigeru Watanebe and was entitled: "Cognitive Safety: A New Approach to Drug Safety."


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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