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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

May, 1998

International Activities

On March 5, 1998, Dr. Patricia Needle, International Program, OSPC, presented a report on recent NIDA collaborative activities in the area of drug abuse and HIV prevention research with Russia at the 7th Gore-Chernomyrdin Health Committee Meeting held in Washington at the Department of State. Dr. Needle reported on the outcomes of the October U.S.-Russia Bilateral Workshop Prevention of HIV and Other Infectious Diseases Among Drug Abusers held in St. Petersburg. Four workgroups prepared recommendations in the areas of: Epidemiologic strategies for monitoring infectious disease epidemics; research issues in the clinical management of infectious diseases; drug abuse treatment - research and intervention strategies to prevent infectious diseases; and community strategies - research and intervention strategies to prevent infectious diseases. Copies of the report are available from the NIDA International Program office.

NIDA researchers Drs. Sherry Deren, Robert Heimer, Walter Ling, Patricia Marshall, Clyde McCoy, Mangai Natarajan, and Robert Trotter, and M. Patricia Needle, NIDA, joined 25 Indian colleagues for the Indo-U.S. Workshop on HIV Prevention Research Methodology held February 24-27, 1998 in Chennai (formerly Madras). The workshop was cosponsored by YRG Care and Research Foundation, Chennai, and the Indian National AIDS Control Organization, with support from NIDA and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Indian participants brought draft proposals and concept papers for collaborative research that served as the basis for workshop discussions. This meeting was an extension of two earlier workshops held in India in 1994 and 1996, which have so far led to the funding of a collaborative project by the U.S.-India Fund.

On February 13, 1998, the review committee for the NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowship met to select Fellows for the 1998-1999 academic year. Three prospective Fellows and one alternate - Drs. Amani El Mougy of Egypt, Gained Novistky of Russia, Gabor Kelemen of Hungary, and Leonardo Estacio of the Philippines (alternate) - were selected to participate in the program at The Johns Hopkins University. This NIDA-supported portion of the Humphrey Fellows Program includes a six-week or longer professional affiliation with a NIDA grantee to design a research proposal for implementation in the Fellow's home country.

NIDA staff Drs. Donald Vereen, Special Assistant to the Director for Medical Affairs, Dr. Zili Sloboda, Director, DEPR, and M. Patricia Needle, International Program, participated in the first U.S.-Mexico Demand Reduction Conference held in El Paso, Texas, on March 18-20, 1998. More than 200 attendees at the conference explored ways to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in both countries during general sessions and work group meetings that addressed a range of topics, including community participation, drug-related violence, evaluation of treatment and prevention programs, HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse research. NIDA cofacilitated the working group on research cooperation and exchange of technical information, which produced a set of recommendations for the continued development of research cooperation between Mexico and the U.S.

NIDA's International Program, since February 1998 has arranged Institute overviews and meetings with Institute staff for 11 groups of international visitors. These include 3 groups representing 15 countries sponsored by the United States Information Agency; groups from Turkey, India, Germany, Russia, and Japan; an official delegation from The Netherlands; and an orientation visit for NIDA INVEST Research Fellows.

Mr. Nicholas J. Kozel, DEPR, participated in the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Abuse (SACENDU) in Cape Town, South Africa on March 24-26, 1998. SACENDU is sponsored by the Medical Research Council of South Africa and World Health Organization (WHO). Its mission is to develop a multi-city drug abuse surveillance program in the country based on epidemiologic and ethnographic data. Historically, the most serious substance abuse problem in the country has involved alcohol, cannabis and Mandrax (methaqualone). Recently, new drugs, especially crack cocaine, have appeared as well as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. The program is in the initial stages of attempting to expand program participation to several other Southern African Developing Countries (SADC), including Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland, with the prospect of establishing a regional epidemiologic surveillance program.

Moira O'Brien, Epidemiology Research Branch, DEPR, conducted a workshop, Building International Frameworks for NIH Grants on Drug Abuse, for the International Training Institute of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology which was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, April 21-22, 1998.

Drs. Elizabeth Robertson and Larry Seitz of DEPR's Prevention Research Branch met with NIDA Humphrey Fellow Victor V. Chtenguelov, M.D., Ph.D. on February 12, 1998. Dr. Chtenguelov is the Science Director, Ukrainian Research Institute of Social and Forensic Psychiatry, Kiev, Ukraine. Discussions focused on prevention including its theory, principles, and current research literature. Dr. Chtenguelov also met with staff of the Community Research Branch, DEPR, and the Office of Science Policy and Communications.

Nicholas Kozel and Larry Seitz of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research met with Mr. Yukihisa Kitamura, Deputy Director General, Physical Education and Sports Bureau, Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Mr. Noriyuki Matsukawa, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan, and Professor Shingo Katsuno, Hyogo University of Teacher Education from Japan on March 12, 1998. Considerable time was spent discussing prevention including types of prevention, prevention principles, and examples of good prevention intervention programs.

Dr. Robert Battjes, DCSR, attended a meeting of the instrument development task force of the WHO/NIH Joint Project on the Assessment and Classification of Disablements, March 9-12, 1998, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Roman Stefanski, IRP Preclinical Pharmacology Laboratory, presented a talk entitled, "Neuroadaptations to Long-Term Methamphetamine Self-Administration in Rats," at the Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior Meeting in Morzine, France, January 3-11, 1998.

A grant was awarded by the Civilian Research and Development Foundation for the Independent States of the FSU (CRDF) for collaborative research to the State Research Institute of Addictions, Moscow, Russia, and NIDA's Intramural Preclinical Pharmacology Laboratory. Sergey Sudakov, M.D., Ph.D. and Dr. Steven Goldberg and colleagues will cooperate on the research project entitled, "Finding of New Compounds for Treatment of Opiate Addiction on the Basis of Study of Non-Opiate Peptide Systems." Dr. Sudakov visited the Intramural Program during April to initiate work on the project.

In a collaborative research project between Marjolein Beekman and Durk Dijkstra, Department of Medicine Chemistry, University Centre of Pharmacy, Groningen, The Netherlands, and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin, Behavioral Neuroscience Branch, IRP, a potential neural trigger for schizophrenia and a new atypical antipsychotic drug have been discovered. Work also continues on the role of neuroactive steroids in drug dependence and drug-abuse related toxicities.

In a collaborative research project with N. Savtchenko and M. Mashkovsky, Center of Chemistry of Drugs, Russian Ministry of Public Health, Moscow, and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin, the preclinical pharmacology of a novel stimulant, sydnocarb, has recently been characterized for possible use as a treatment agent for psychomotor stimulant abuse.

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