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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

Media and Education Activities

NIDANews on Twitter

The Press Team designed and launched a NIDA Twitter page, "NIDANews." NIDA will "tweet" about press releases, NewsScans, research findings, conferences, ongoing programs and other news items. To view the page and become a "follower" of NIDANews, go to

Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training

Dr. Timothy Condon was a panelist in a webcast titled "This is Your Brain on Drugs," produced by the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training (MCTFT). The webcast was taped February 26, 2010, and other panelists included Dr. Amelia Arria, NIDA grantee and Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health; and Senta Goudy, Chief of Prevention in the Florida Office of Drug Control in Tallahassee, Florida.

National Inhalant Prevention Coalition

Dr. Timothy P. Condon was a panelist at the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition press conference March 11th in Washington, DC. PILB's press team issued a note to reporters announcing Dr. Condon's participation in the event and provided on-site assistance.

Upcoming Events

OSPC/PILB began planning media and outreach activities for NIDA participation in several upcoming meetings, including the NIDA Blending Conference April 22-23 in Albuquerque, NM; the American Psychiatric Association Meeting May 22-26 in New Orleans, LA; and the International AIDS Conference July 18-23 in Vienna, Austria.

NIDA will once again co-sponsor an addiction science award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) to be held May 9-14 in San Jose, CA. Intel ISEF is the world's largest international pre-college science competition for students in grades 9-12. Over 1,500 high school students from over 50 countries, regions, and territories showcase their independent research at the annual event. Members of OSPC and NIDA grantees serve as judges for the addiction science award, and Friends of NIDA provide funding for the awards.

Media planning and partnership collaboration is also underway for National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) to be held November 8-14, 2010. The event is an extension of NIDA's annual Drug Facts Chat Day, which began in 2008 and during which thousands of teens ask questions about drugs via a Web chat. Each year, NIDA gets many more questions than can be answered in a day. In response to this demonstrated interest by teens to get the scientific facts about drugs, NIDA developed NDFW -- asking teens, schools and community groups all over America to hold their own "Q and A" events, with local experts. Throughout the week, teens will participate in a variety of NDFW activities such as hosting movie nights and book club meetings, contacting their members of congress, holding school assemblies and sponsoring music and art contests. NIDA will hold its annual Drug Facts Chat Day on November 9th. A NDFW event page on Facebook, a registration page on NIDA's website, a toolkit and a logo are in development by PILB.

Press Releases & Notes to Reporters

January 7, 2010 - NIDA Researchers Discover A New Mechanism Underlying Cocaine Addiction. Researchers have identified a key epigenetic mechanism in the brain that helps explain cocaine's addictiveness. The study, published in the January issue of the journal Science, shows how cocaine affects an epigenetic process (a process capable of influencing gene expression without changing a gene's sequence) called histone methylation. These epigenetic changes in the brain's pleasure circuits, which are also the first impacted by chronic cocaine exposure, likely contribute to an acquired preference for cocaine.

January 13, 2010 - NIDA Researchers Honored With Presidential Early Career Award. Two NIDA-funded researchers have been awarded the White House Office of National Science and Technology Council's Presidential Award for Early Career Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). NIDA grantees Dr. Bruce J. Hinds, III and Dr. Gonzalo E. Torres received their awards during a ceremony at the Commerce Building in Washington, DC.

January 19, 2010 - Leading Medication Development Researcher Phil Skolnick joins NIDA to lead Drug Discovery Efforts. NIDA announced that Phil Skolnick, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon.), a leader in the worlds of corporate and academic drug research, has been appointed Director of NIDA's Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse (DPMCDA).

March 15, 2010 - Impulsive-Antisocial Personality Traits Linked to a Hypersensitive Brain Reward System. Normal individuals who scored high on a measure of impulsive/antisocial traits display a hypersensitive brain reward system, according to a brain imaging study by researchers at Vanderbilt University. The findings provide the first evidence of differences in the brain's reward system that may underlie vulnerability to what's typically referred to as psychopathy. The NIDA-funded study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

March 28, 2010 - Common Mechanisms of Drug Abuse and Obesity. Some of the same brain mechanisms that fuel drug addiction in humans accompany the emergence of compulsive eating behaviors and the development of obesity in animals, according to research funded by NIDA. When investigators gave rats access to varying levels of high-fat foods, they found unrestricted availability alone can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain, leading to compulsive eating behaviors and the onset of obesity. The study, conducted by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute, was released May 28th in the online version of Nature Neuroscience and will also appear in the journal's May 2010 print issue.

Notes to Reporters:

January 14, 2010 - A note was sent to reporters about the publication of the NIDA-funded study "Impact of the Positive Action program on school-level indicators of academic achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes: A matched-pair cluster randomized, controlled trial" by Snyder, et al. and published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.

January 14, 2010 - A note alerted media that NIDA's Virtual Town Hall on Prevention is now available online at The Town Hall, conducted live in September 2009, featured the Communities that Care prevention system.

January 19, 2010 - A note to reporters was sent out about the publication of the NIDA-funded study "Overdose and Prescribed Opioids: Associations between Prescribed Opioids and Overdose in Patients with Chronic Pain: A Cohort Study" by Dunn, et al. and published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

February 1, 2010 - Reporters were notified about the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Efficacy of Extended-Duration Transdermal Nicotine Therapy: A Randomized Trial." The study was conducted by researchers at Penn Medicine, an academic medical center that includes the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System; and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

February 22, 2010 - A note to reporters alerted the media to the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "Toward discovery science of human brain function." The research was conducted by investigators at the NYU Langone Medical Center and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

March 1, 2010 - Reporters were alerted to the publication of the NIDA-funded study entitled "The relationship between methamphetamine use and increased dental disease." The article was published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, and suggests that dentists should consider severe oral health problems in otherwise young, healthy people as a possible sign of drug addiction.

March 8, 2010 - A note to reporters alerted the media to a NIDA-funded study published in Nature Neuroscience, entitled "Methylphenidate facilitates learning-induced amygdala plasticity," by Tye, et al. Methylphenidate (Ritalin or Concerta) has been used for decades to treat ADHD, yet little is known about the precise mechanisms by which it exerts its therapeutic effects. This study uses an animal model to study the mechanisms underlying methylphenidate's effects on learning.

March 8, 2010 - A note to reporters announced that NIDA Deputy Director Timothy Condon would be speaking at a press conference sponsored by the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC). The annual press event highlights the risks of inhalant abuse among young people. The event, with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on March 11th.

Research News

Full NewsScans can be seen at Please note the colorful re-design of NIDA's NewsScan, which launched with issue #65.

January 28, 2010 - NIDA NewsScan #65 - Research News

  • Database Created to Supplement Commercial Microarray Coverage of Addiction-Related Genes
  • Two Thirds of Injection Drug Users in Tijuana, Mexico Have a Latent Tuberculosis Infection
  • Many School Districts Have Punitive Responses to Positive Results from Random Drug Testing
  • Highly Selective Compounds Developed to Target the Brain's Dopamine D3 Receptor
  • Increasing Glutamate Transmission Eliminates Cocaine-Induced Place Preference in Rats
  • Men with Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Dependence also Have High Lifetime Prevalence of Opioid Dependence
  • Benzotropine Analogs Reduce Cocaine Self-Administration in Rats
  • Drug Combinations Contribute to HIV Risk in Gay and Bisexual Men

Highlights of Interviews & Articles of Interest

January 5, 2010 - Cable News Network (CNN) — Dr. Nora Volkow was interviewed on-camera about prescription drug abuse and overdose.

January 5, 2010 - Associated Press (AP) — Dr. Steven Grant was interviewed about NIDA's khat research.

January 6, 2010 - — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about the effect of cocaine on genes in the brain (regarding a NIDA-funded study published in Science).

January 7, 2010 - Reuters — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about the effect of cocaine on genes in the brain (regarding a NIDA-funded study published in Science).

January 13, 2010 - Teen Vogue — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about teens and marijuana use.

January 14, 2010 - Time — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about levamisole.

January 19, 2010 - MSNBC — Dr. Susan Weiss and Jennifer Elcano, of OSPC's Science Policy Branch, were interviewed about prescription drug abuse among women.

February 5, 2010 - — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about opioid abuse.

February 11, 2010 - Associated Press (AP) — Dr. Marilyn Huestis was interviewed about fake marijuana substances.

February 15, 2010 - Reuters London — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about treatment for addiction.

February 17, 2010 - Associated Press (AP) — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about the proposed changes to the DSM-V pertaining to substance abuse and addiction.

February 22, 2010 - BBC Radio — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about obesity research.

March 3, 2010 - Newsweek — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about the effectiveness of psychosocial therapies for drug abuse compared to pharmacological or immune-based therapies (i.e. vaccines).

March 8, 2010 - National Public Radio (NPR) — Dr. Ivan Montoya was interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show about the nicotine vaccine.

March 16, 2010 - New York Times — Dr. Wilson Compton was interviewed on how cocaine and marijuana can impact behavior.

March 23, 2010 - Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) — Dr. Volkow was interviewed about NIDA's comorbidity research.

March 26, 2010 - Associated Press (AP) — Dr. Steven Grant was interviewed about the drug mephedrone or "meow meow."

Steven Grant of CNB, DCNBR was interviewed on February 16, 2010 by a reporter for Wired magazine on the topic of brain changes after treatment for substance abuse.

Steven Grant was interviewed on April 1, 2010 by National Public Radio to provide background for a potential story on Mephedrone, an emerging drug of abuse.

Dr. Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA, was interviewed by The Patient Channel on the treatment of nicotine dependence.

Other Educational Activities

On March 11, 2010, Dr. Jay Sanders presented, "Information Technology and the Transformation of Healthcare Delivery: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be." Dr. Sanders is President and CEO of The Global Telemedicine Group, Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a founding board member and President Emeritus of the American Telemedicine Association. He discussed issues related to "off-the-shelf" eHealth technology that can fundamentally change how healthcare is provided.

On February 25, 2010, Dr. Paul Kessler, provided a presentation on Nicotine Vaccine for Smoking Cessation: Update on NicVAX¨ Development. Dr. Paul Kessler, Senior Vice President, Clinical, Medical and Regulatory Affairs, reviewed preclinical and clinical data for Nabi's Biopharmaceuticals' nicotine conjugate vaccine, NicVAX¨, which is currently undergoing phase III testing for smoking cessation.

On January 14, 2010, Dr. James McKay, presented "Continuing Care for Substance Use Disorders: Old Challenges and New Ideas." Dr. McKay, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed findings from continuing care studies, and identified factors associated with positive treatment results. The limitations of the research literature were discussed as well as newer research on disease management approaches that address these limitations. Additionally, trends toward wider use of measurement-based care, adaptive treatment models, and pharmacotherapy in the long-term management of addictive disorders were discussed.

Dr. Mary Kautz, DCNBR, along with other NIDA colleagues, participated in Brain Awareness Week activities held at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, on March 17 & 18, 2010. Five institutes from NIH hosted interactive sessions focusing on brain health and neuroscience for Washington, DC area students, grades five through twelve.

Recent and Upcoming Conferences/Exhibits

American Society Addiction Medicine (ASAM) 41st Annual Meeting and Medical-Scientific Conference
April 15-18, 2010 -- San Francisco, CA

National Institute on Drug Abuse Blending Research and Practice Meeting (NIDA)
April 22-23, 2010 -- Albuquerque, NM

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Annual Clinical Meeting (ACOG)
May 15-19, 2010 -- San Francisco, CA

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting (APA)
May 22-26, 2010 -- New Orleans, LA

American Academy of Physician Assistants Conference (AAPA)
May 29-June 3, 2010 -- Atlanta, GA

American College Health Association Annual Meeting (ACHA)
June 1-5, 2010 -- Philadelphia, PA

National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Annual Training Conference
June 2-5, 2010 -- Boston, MA

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Annual Convention
June 30-July 3, 2010 -- Washington, DC

American Psychological Association (APsychA) Annual Convention
August 12-15, 2010 -- San Diego, CA


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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