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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - September, 2004

International Activities

NIDA International Forum

The 2004 NIDA International Forum, Progress Through Collaboration, was held in conjunction with the College on the Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Annual Meeting from June 11—14, 2004 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Speakers included Puerto Rican Secretary of Health, Dr. John Rullán; Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, World Health Organization; Dr. Juana Tomas-Rossello, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; and Dr. Astrid Eberhart, Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The Forum is an integral component in NIDA's efforts to assist scientists from around the world in exchanging information and establishing collaborative drug abuse research projects. The meeting featured a day-long symposium; International Program networking, poster, and planning sessions included in the overall CPDD agenda; and pre-conference workshops. More than 200 scientists from 49 countries participated in the symposium, which focused on the status of HIV/HCV infection among drug users in Iberoamerica, research and funding activities conducted by other international drug abuse research organizations, and the international research priorities set by NIDA's divisions. The Forum was chaired by Dr. Steven W. Gust, International Program (IP), and featured remarks by NIDA Deputy Director, Dr. Timothy P. Condon, Dr. M. Patricia Needle, IP; Dr. Steven Goldberg, Intramural Research Program (IRP); Dr. David Shurtleff, Division of Basic Neurosciences and Behavioral Research (DBNBR); Dr. Jack Stein, Division of Epidemiology, Services & Prevention Research (DESPR); and Dr. Francis Vocci, Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse (DPMCDA).

Research Training and Exchange Programs

Distinguished International Scientist Collaboration Awards (DISCA)
NIDA has selected three researchers as 2004 Distinguished International Scientists: Dr. Helena Barros, Fundacao Faculdade Federal Ciencias Medicas Porto Alegre, Brazil; Dr. Ivan Berlin, Groupe Haspitalier Universitaire Pitie-Salpetriere, France; and Dr. Kazutata Ikeda, Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, Japan. The competitive DISCA awards provide support to senior scientists during research exchange visits of 1 to 3 months so that applicants and their partners can cooperate on new research methods and techniques; conduct data analysis; prepare joint research reports or proposals; or work together on basic, clinical, and applied research on drug abuse. The binational teams must propose an innovative approach, clearly define their expected product or outcome, and submit a final report to NIDA.

  • Building on a relationship established at a NIDA-supported meeting in Brazil, Dr. Barros will spend two months in Boston working with NIDA grantee, Dr. Klaus Miczek, Tufts University. The team will conduct preliminary studies to address the importance of the GABA system regarding gender differences in cross-sensitization of social stress and cocaine use. The researchers anticipate using the results of the preliminary studies to plan and seek NIDA support for a three-year collaborative investigation of the interrelationships among gender differences, stress-induced sensitization, cocaine i.v. self-administration, depression, neurochemical changes in the GABA system, gene expression, and sex steroids.
  • Dr. Berlin and Dr. Lirio S. Covey, New York State Psychiatric Institute, will use Dr. Berlin's two-month visit to expand their collaborative research on non-nicotinic drug treatments for smoking cessation for the high-risk group of smokers with higher levels of nicotine dependence, previous failed attempts to quit smoking, and a history of major depressive disorder (MDD). The researchers will design and conduct a randomized, controlled, double blind clinical trial of naltrexone vs. placebo for smokers with past MDD. Participants in that study who fail to stop smoking will be recruited into a second clinical trial assessing the efficacy of treatment with bupropion vs. a combination of naltrexone and bupropion.
  • Continuing their research exchange visits, Dr. Ikeda will use his DISCA award to spend one month learning the procedures for conducting research with mice conditioned to self-administer drugs intravenously from Dr. Athina Markou, Scripps Research Institute, San Diego. Dr. Markou, whose research on rodent self-administration of cocaine, amphetamine, morphine, nicotine, and phencyclidine has primarily used rats, will learn about behavioral and molecular genetics investigations using mice from Dr. Ikeda. The two will use their new skills to collaborate on investigations to establish methamphetamine self-administration and the dose-response function for methamphetamine in mice. They anticipate that the preliminary investigations will lead to a NIDA grant application.

INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellowship
Dr. Liliana M. Cancela, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina, has been selected as a 2004-2005 NIDA INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellow. She will spend her Fellowship year working with Dr. Peter W. Kalivas, Medical University of South Carolina, learning new techniques to investigate stress- and drug-induced neuroadaptations through molecular studies of pharmacological interventions or manipulation of genetic expression. This research could help scientists understand the role of common cellular networks in the influence of stress on addiction. A biochemist, Dr. Cancela is an associate professor at the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, where she conducts research on stress-induced addiction to psychostimulants. Through the competitive INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellowship, NIDA supports 12 months of postdoctoral training with a NIDA grantee at a U.S. institution and professional development activities to help Fellows establish personal relationships with NIDA grantees and staff.

Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellowships
NIDA, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education, has selected eight drug abuse professionals from seven nations as Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows. The Fellows learn about NIDA-supported drug abuse research and the application of research to the development of government policy and prevention and treatment programs through academic courses at Johns Hopkins University, a minimum of six weeks in a research affiliation with a NIDA grantee, and professional development activities to help Fellows establish personal relationships with NIDA grantees and staff. The 2004-2005 Humphrey Fellows are:

  • Dr. Irena Jakovljevic, Psychiatrist, Montenegro, Serbia & Montenegro;
  • Dr. Venera Zakirova, Assistant Professor, Moscow Humanitarian University, and Family Service Counselor, Ufa, Russia;
  • Dr. Khola Iram, AIDS Prevention Project Manager, Peshwar, Pakistan;
  • Dr. Charlton Easton Collie, Pulmonologist and Medical Lecturer, Kingston, Jamaica;
  • Dr. Arun Kumar Sharma, Community Medicine Faculty, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India; and
  • Dr. Nael Mostafa Hasan, Psychiatrist, Behman Hospital, Cairo, Egypt

Travel Support

In August, NIDA supported a preliminary visit to Kenya by researchers from Yale University to discuss the feasibility of initiating a clinical research protocol for treating heroin dependence and reducing HIV transmission and the burden of HIV in Kenya. During their visit, Drs. David Fiellin, Marek Chawarski, and Lynn Sullivan: 1) evaluated the patient characteristics, treatment needs and feasibility of recruitment at the Mathare Psychiatric Hospital, Nairobi, and Coast General Hospital, Mombassa; 2) identified potential project directors or Kenyan collaborators at each of the sites; 3) met with other healthcare personnel who might become involved in the project; 4) reviewed the sources of healthcare data that would be of potential importance to the project; 5) evaluated the technical capacity of the two sites to support research activities; 6) provided initial training to physicians, psychologists, other health care providers, and policy makers about opioid agonist maintenance treatment, antagonist maintenance treatment, drug abuse counseling, HIV risk reduction counseling, and coordinating HIV and drug abuse treatment; and 7) met with staff from the UNODC Drug Control and Crime Prevention Programme for Eastern Africa, which is serving as the umbrella organization for projects developing drug abuse and HIV treatment services, outreach, and counseling for Kenyan heroin users under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

If they conclude that the Kenya project is feasible, the Yale research team anticipates applying for a NIDA administrative supplement to Dr. Richard Schottenfeld's current studies in Malaysia and Iran (DA14718, "HIV Risk Reduction and Drug Abuse Treatment in Malaysia" and "HIV Risk Reduction and Drug Abuse Treatment in Iran") to develop a similar clinical research program at the two hospital-based outpatient clinics in Kenya. The studies in Malaysia and Iran compare the efficacy of buprenorphine and naltrexone maintenance treatment and are facilitating development of the drug abuse clinical research and treatment infrastructure in the two countries. This infrastructure will then develop and disseminate evidence-based behavioral treatments tailored to the specific circumstances of heroin addicts in each of the countries and train healthcare personnel to provide opioid agonist and antagonist maintenance treatment.

NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow traveled to the Menendez Pelayo International University, Santander, Spain, to make two presentations at the conference, Advances in Drug Dependency Research, hosted July 24-27, 2004 by the Spanish National Plan on Drugs (PNSD). NIDA and PNSD signed an Exchange of Letters in October 2003 to promote binational collaboration on biomedical and behavioral drug abuse research.

NIDA supported participation by grantees at the International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting, June 22-27, 2004, in Paestrum, Italy. Drs. Igor Grant and Drew Mattison, University of California at San Diego, participated in the workshop, Future Directions in Cannabinoid Therapeutics II: From the Bench to the Clinic. Several other U.S. researchers received support from NIDA: Dr. Daniele Piomelli, University of California, Irvine; Dr. Alexandros Makriyannis, University of Connecticut; Dr. Sumner H. Burstein, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Dr. Guy A Cabral, Medical College of Virginia; Dr. Benjamin F. Cravatt, The Scripps Research Institute, San Diego; Dr. J. Michael Walker, Brown University; and Dr. Patricia Reggio, Kennesaw State University, Georgia. NIDA also supported participation by the following international researchers: Dr. Guido Tettamanti, University of Milan; Prof. Emilio Clementi, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan; Dr. Manuel Guzm´n, Complutense University, Madrid; Prof. Antonio Calignano, University of Naples; Dr. Vincenzo Di Marzo, Italian Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare; and Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Three NIDA grantees participated in a conference, Modeling Mental Processes and Disorders, organized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences AGORA for Biosystems and Turkey's Ege University Center for Brain Research, May 24-29, 2004, in Ku_adasű, Turkey. Dr. Andrew B Norman, University of Cincinnati; Dr. Warren Bickel, University of Vermont; and Dr. Peter Killeen, Arizona State University, joined clinicians, basic scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, and statisticians to discuss behavioral, statistical, and mathematical models of brain function.

The Singapore Institute of Mental Health and the Community Addictions Management Program (CAMP) sponsored the First Asia Pacific Institute on Addiction, (APIA) May 29-June 4, 2004, to exchange information about policies, research and addiction treatment programs in the region, and to provide clinical updates and training in prevention and treatment of addictive disorders and HIV/AIDS. NIDA supported the participation of three Chinese researchers: Dr. Guo Song, National Institute of Drug Dependence; Dr. Li Bing, Institute of Mental Health; and Dr. Cheng Hung, United Kingdom HIV/AIDS China Project. Faculty members included NIDA grantees Dr. Walter Ling, University of California, Los Angeles; Dr. Carlton Erickson, University of Texas; and Dr. Thomas Babor, University of Connecticut.

NIDA provided support to the 6th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference of the International Society for Addiction Medicine (ISAM 2004), June 2-5, 2004, in Helsinki, Finland. During the conference Dr. Steven Gust, IP, chaired a session on tobacco addiction treatment.

NIDA provided travel support for Dr. Stephen T. Higgins, University of Vermont, to participate in the 28th International Congress of Psychology, August 8-13, 2004, in Beijing, China.

International Visitors

Dale Weiss, IP, along with representatives of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of State, attended a roundtable discussion on July 14, 2004, sponsored by the Phelps Stokes Fund. The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss drug abuse research and policy issues with Mr. Abel Martínez Dur´n from the Dominican Republic. Mr. Martínez Dur´n is a legislator, Lower House of the National Congress of the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, DPMCDA, presented the plenary lecture on "Imaging the addicted Brain" at the 6th Annual International Society for Addiction Medicine (ISAM) in Helsinki, Finland. He attended the ISAM Meeting from May 31 — June 6, 2004. Dr. Vocci also co-chaired a symposium on addiction treatment where he spoke on pharmacological treatments for stimulant dependence.

Drs. Ahmed Elkashef and Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA, also attended at the ISAM Meeting from May 31 - June 6, 2004. Drs. Ahmed Elkashef and Ivan Montoya presented on "Marijuana: The Extent of the Problem and Treatment." Drs. Elkashef and Vocci also met with the members of the ISAM Board of Directors to discuss planning for the 2005 ISAM meeting.

Dr. Frank Vocci met with Simon McNabb, CDC, and two visitors from Poland, Krzysztof Przewozniak, M.A. and Witold Zatonski, M.D. on August 3, 2004.

Dr. Ivan Montoya presented at the ISAM meeting in Helsinki the NIDA initiative on medications development for cannabis related disorders and a research paper based on the results of the NIDA funded longitudinal study of adolescents in Colombia.

Dr. Ivan Montoya presented at the First Iberoamerican Congress of Addictions in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) a review of the scientific progress in the development of medications for cocaine dependence.

Wilson Compton, M.D., M.P.E. and Meyer Glantz, Ph.D., DESPR, represented the Institute at the July 2004 World Mental Health Consortium (WMH) Meeting in Portland, Maine. As NIDA's collaborating investigator in the National Comorbidity Study and as a member of the WMH Consortium and the Substance Use Data Analysis Workgroup, Dr. Glantz will be collaborating in the analysis and publication of national and international data on drug abuse and associated factors.

Dr. Yonette Thomas, DESPR, chaired a panel on "Adolescent Substance Abuse: Epidemiology and Predictors of Risk Factors" at the meeting of the International Society for Addiction Medicine in Helsinki, Finland on June 2, 2004.

On June 7, 2004, Dr. Yonette Thomas participated in the satellite symposium of the International Society for Addiction Medicine at the State Pavlov University in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, presented two papers at the International Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on August 2-6, 2004. The papers were entitled Fundamentals of Prevention Research and Practice and Research Advances in Interventions for Adolescents.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson met with Drs. Marion Forgatch, Jerry Patterson and Ivar Holman of the Oregon Social Learning Center and Haktor Helland, Terje Ogden and other representative of the Norwegian research team collaborating on the Cross-national Dissemination trial of the Parent Management Training model in a day long meeting to discuss progress and future challenges of the study. The meeting took place May 29, 2004 in Quebec City, Canada.

Dr. Eve Reider, DESPR, collaborated with Dr. Steven Gust, International Office in organizing a symposium for the 12th Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research, May 26, 2004, Quebec City, Canada. Dr. Reider chaired and Dr. Gust led the discussion for the symposium, "Forging International Research Collaborations: Adaptation and Testing of Drug Abuse Prevention Principles Across Cultures." Established, developing and emerging international collaborations were presented (respectively): 1) Terje Ogden, University of Oslo, Norway, and Marion Forgatch, Oregon Social Learning Center, 2) Lisa Wegner, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and Edward Smith and Linda Caldwell, Pennsylvania State University, and 3) Amador Calador Far, Irefrea, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Jean Schensul, Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT.

Dr. Peter Hartsock, DESPR, served on the Organizing Committee of the Twelfth International Conference on AIDS, Cancer, and Related Problems that took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 24-29th, 2004. Dr. Hartsock also organized a symposium at the Conference titled "Multi-Disciplinary Research/Evaluation of the Public Health Impact and Cost Effectiveness of AIDS Interventions." Participants included NIDA grantees, scientists from across the former Soviet Union and representatives for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Dr. Peter Hartsock participated in the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Expert Working Group on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Russia's meeting on "Tuberculosis Control in the Russian Federation and the Tuberculosis/HIV Problem in Russia," July 7, 2004, Washington, D.C. Participants included representatives from the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, and Health and Human Services. Russian participants included representatives from the Russian Ministry of Health, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Russian Medical Academy.

Drs. Aria Crump and Cecelia McNamara conducted a presentation for a Spanish Delegation on April 15th at NIDA Headquarters.

Dr. Steven Grant, Chief, Clinical Neuroscience Branch, DCNDBT, presented a talk entitled "Cognitive Approaches to Drug Addiction" and met with addiction researchers at three sites in Europe in June 2004. The sites included the Area d'Investigacio Farmacologica, Institut de Recerca, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau., Barcelona, Spain on June 25, 2004, Addex Pharmaceuticals in Geneva, Switzerland on June 29, 2004 and Psychiatric University Hospital University of Zürich, Zurich Switzerland on June 28-29, 2004.

Dr. Steven Grant, presented a talk entitled "Evidence for Cognitive Dysfunction and Dependence in MDMA Users" at a symposium he co-chaired on "MDMA Neurotoxicity in Humans: Current Status and Future Prospects" at the 24th Congress of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsycho-pharmacologicum, June 20-24, 2004 in Paris France. The symposium focused on recent evidence related to cognitive dysfunction and alterations in brain activity associated with chronic MDMA abuse. The other speakers in the symposium were Dr. Katherine Bonson, Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Franz Vollenweider, Univ. Zurich, Dr. Euphrosyne Fouzoulis-Mayfrank, Medical Faculty of the University of Technology, Aachen, and Dr. John Halpern, McLean Hospital.

On May 26th & 27th, 2004, Drs. Joseph Frascella and Laurence Stanford, DCNDBT, attended the Annual Meeting of the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society in Vancouver, BC. Dr. Stanford served as the discussant for a symposium entitled Neuroimaging of Prenatal Drug Exposure.

Dr. Teri Levitin and Dr. Rita Liu of OEA participated in a Round Table on Writing Grants and Peer Review at the 10th Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA) International Symposium in Beijing, China, July 18-14, 2004. Dr. Liu introduced NIH's organization and grants system. Dr. Levitin presented an in-depth description of the peer review policies and process. Dr. Levitin and Dr. Liu also met with Beijing high school students in a Q&A session to compare student life in US and China.


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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