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National Institute on Drug Abuse

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse

May, 1996

International Activities

NIDA Director Alan Leshner addressed the Secretary of State's Open Forum at the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the Department of State on May 15, on "Technological Advances in the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Abuse." The Open Forum provides an opportunity for members of the Foreign Affairs community, from the Department of State and other foreign affairs agencies, as well as foreign science counselors stationed in Washington, to attend presentations on key issues, particularly those with foreign policy implications. Dr. Leshner informed the group about NIDA's research perspective on the public health consequences of drug abuse, the relationship between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, and the Institute's international strategy for disseminating NIDA research and for building targeted research collaboration between the U.S. and selected regions of the world.

1996-97 will be the ninth year of NIDA participation in the Hubert H. Humphrey International Fellowship Program in Drug Abuse. The Institute will sponsor three fellows, from Peru, Bulgaria and Egypt, to study and initiate research projects as part of the program at the Johns Hopkins University. In addition to academic course work at Johns Hopkins, the experience of the NIDAsponsored Fellows includes a research mentorship visit of 8-10 weeks with a NIDA grantee.

NIDA has also selected three INVEST International Research Fellows for 1996-1997. Sylvia Cruz, Ph.D. of Mexico will work at Virginia Commonwealth University with Dr. Robert Balster on the molecular and neurochemical events associated with the acute depressant effects of organic solvents. Danxin Wang, Ph.D. of China, will join Professor Wolfgang Sadee at the University of California San Francisco to study the effects of dihydroetorphine. Raka Jain, Ph.D. of India will work with Professor Stephen Holtzman of Emory University on abuse liability, tolerance, and dependence potential of various psychotropic drugs.

The U.S.-India Workshop on Behavioral and Social Research Methodologies for Prevention of Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS was held in New Delhi during March. NIDA grantees Sherry Deren, Don Des Jarlais and Robert Trotter, Judith Auerbach of the NIH Office of AIDS Research and NIDA staff Drs. Don Vereen, Richard Needle and Patricia Needle, accompanied by Science Attache Gray Handley of the U.S. Embassy, met for four days of presentations and discussion combined with individual meetings with Indian researchers to assist in finalizing proposals for submission to the U.S.-India Fund. Following the New Delhi workshop, Drs. Vereen and Patricia Needle traveled to Imphal for a two-day conference on establishing research priorities in drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, hosted by the Commissioner of Health of Manipur State. The India visit was supported through a Letter of Agreement with the Department of State. It is anticipated that there will be 4-5 Indo-U.S. collaborative behavioral research proposals submitted in time for funding before the termination of the Fund in 1997.

NIDA's International Program is serving as the coordinating office for a satellite meeting to the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in San Juan. The meeting, "Building International Research in Drug Abuse," scheduled for Saturday, June 22, will bring NIDA-trained visiting scientists and foreign fellows from the Hubert H. Humphrey and INVEST Research Fellowship Programs together with U.S. researchers to explore aspects of implementing international research collaboration and to share research findings. Support for the satellite meeting has been provided through a Letter of Agreement with the Department of State.

During March, Dr. Robert Battjes (DCSR) participated in the Steering Committee meeting for the WHO/NIH Joint Project on Assessment and Classification of Disablements. This new initiative, which involves WHO, NIDA, NIMH and NIAAA, will develop cross-cultural instruments addressing impairments, disabilities, and handicaps, building upon previous collaborative work that developed instruments for diagnosis of mental and substance use disorders, i.e., the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN).

The third meeting of the International Drug Abuse Epidemiology Work Group (IEWG) is scheduled for July at WHO Headquarters in Geneva. The IEWG is composed of officials and researchers from international organizations, such as WHO, the United Nations Drug Control Programme, the Council of Europe Pompidou Group, the Commission of the European Communities, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the Organization of American States, among others. IEWG participants also include researchers and officials from national agencies, institutions and universities, including staff from NIDA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, the Mexican Secretariat of Health, the University of Chile, the Malaysian University of Science and the South African Medical Research Council. The purpose of the meeting is to provide a forum for representatives from epidemiology surveillance networks from around the world to discuss the objectives and logistics of establishing an international network for the presentation and discussion of epidemiologic data on drug abuse on an ongoing basis; for developing an infrastructure for identifying and promoting epidemiologic and other drug abuse research; and for linking research findings to community and national public health policy.

Ann Blanken (DEPR) represented NIDA at the 24th meeting of the Pompidou Group in Athens, Greece, during April. The Pompidou Group is a consortium of European drug abuse epidemiology experts.

Karol Kumpfer, former NIDA Prevention Research Branch grantee and member of the IRG, will be in Australia for six weeks as a consultant to train social service and health care workers on her Strengthening Families Program model which was developed through NIDA and CSAP grants. The Strengthening Families Program (SEP) is a 16-week selective prevention intervention program designed for elementary school age children living in high risk families. The program includes separate interventions for the child, the parents, and the family.

Shunzo Abe, Planning Director for the Tokyo-based Drug Abuse Prevention Center (DAPC) visited NIDA in April. DAPC is under joint jurisdiction of the National Police Agency and the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare and serves as the national coordinator for a drug abuse prevention and education campaign. Mr. Abe was briefed on NIDA's research programs, international opportunities, program announcements, and publications.

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