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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > September, 2007 Index    

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - September, 2007

International Activities

New Research Training Program

NIDA has created a new version of the INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellowship, offering postdoctoral research training in clinical trials. In addition to the normal cohort of INVEST Fellows, the NIDA International Program and Clinical Trials Network (CTN) are offering INVEST/CTN Fellowships to non-U.S. scientists to work with a mentor affiliated with one of the 17 CTN Regional Research and Training Centers. Like the regular INVEST Fellowships, the INVEST/CTN Drug Abuse Research Fellowship combines postdoctoral research training in the United States with professional development activities and grant-writing guidance. Fellows may conduct their research in any aspect of the Clinical Trials Network research agenda on drug abuse and addiction, such as intervention research, clinical trials methodology, or drug abuse treatment as HIV/AIDS prevention. Fellows and their mentors are encouraged to develop jointly and seek funding for a collaborative research project to be conducted in the Fellow's home country. Fellows and their U.S. mentors are part of a network of international scientists who exchange information and collaborate on drug abuse research nationally, regionally, and globally.

Research Results

Research Team Supported by INVEST and DISCA Awards Finds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity is Dose-Dependent and May Permanently Alter White Matter
Researchers from Seoul National University and Harvard University have concluded that altered concentrations of brain metabolites, including N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) and myo-inositol (MI), may indicate neurotoxicity associated with drug abuse. Writing in Drug and Alcohol Dependence 88(1), pp. 28-35, 2007. the researchers describe proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) studies that explored differences in brain metabolites between abstinent methamphetamine (MA) abusers and healthy comparison subjects, as well as the associations between metabolite concentrations and clinical characteristics. The research findings suggest that MA-induced metabolic alterations of frontal gray and white matter are dose-dependent, for primarily male subjects, and that the MA-related abnormalities in gray matter may, in part, recover with abstinence, but not those in the white matter. Lead author Young Hoon Sung was a 2005-2006 NIDA INVEST Fellow, working with co-author Perry F. Renshaw, Harvard University and McLean Brain Imaging Center. Another co-author, In Kyoon Lyoo, is a 2007 NIDA Distinguished International Scientist, also working with Dr. Renshaw.

Binational Research Team Supported by NIDA-Dutch Addiction Program Supplement Evaluates Effectiveness of Experimental Treatment
A research team comparing the effectiveness of manualized behavior therapy on school-aged disruptive behavior disordered (DBD) children in everyday clinical practice to care as usual has concluded that the effect size of the experimental treatment was significantly larger when care as usual consisted of family therapy, but there was no significant difference when care as usual consisted of behavior therapy. Writing in Behavior Modification May 31(3), pp. 298-312, 2007, Drs. John E. Lochman, University of Alabama, and Walter Matthys, Utrecht, conclude that the comparison of an experimental treatment to care as usual depends on the type of usual treatment.

International Program's Bibliometric Study Identifies Countries, Funding Sources, and Trends in Drug Abuse Research Articles
In an effort to assess the involvement of the international research community, identify funding organizations, and describe the topics of drug abuse research being conducted, the International Program conducted a bibliometric study of articles published in Addiction and Drug and Alcohol Dependence from 1998 through 2004. The authors' institutions represented 60 countries, and 10 percent of the articles were cross-country collaborations. The authors credited 443 unique funding sources from 39 countries. Just 5 organizations constituted 60 percent of the funding sources, all of them U.S. government agencies. NIDA supported 41 percent of the research. Although more than 5,700 Medical Subject Heading categories were recorded in the more than 1,800 articles that met the inclusion criteria, 10 categories accounted for 50 percent of the total: psychology, epidemiology, therapeutic use, rehabilitation, pharmacology, administration and dosage, statistics and numerical data, drug effects, methods, and adverse effects.

FY 2006 Annual Report

A summary of the NIDA International Program's Fiscal Year 2006 activities demonstrates the broad range of activities NIDA supports to successfully develop new international scientific networks, encourage junior scientists to become drug abuse researchers, and engage experts from underrepresented geographic areas in international collaborative research.

NIDA International Forum

More than 260 registrants from 40 countries participated in the NIDA International Forum, which was held June 15-18, 2007 in Quebec City, Canada. The meeting was cosponsored by the NIDA International Program; the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addiction of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Introducing the meeting theme, Technological Innovations to Build International Research Capacity, Daniel Olguin Olguin of the MIT Media Lab described developmental projects where researchers use electronic or social sensor technologies to track social signals provided by speech and body gestures as well as physiological responses to track individual or group communication patterns, develop mathematical models of human behavior, identify individuals or groups with similar interests, and automatically record organizational interactions. Mr. Olguin Olguin reviewed Media Lab interventions designed to treat depression and diabetes, and invited Forum participants to suggest drug abuse research applications. Other plenary session speakers discussed high-tech tools - such as ecological momentary assessment, computerized intervention software, and automated clinical bookkeeping for contingency management programs - in drug abuse prevention and treatment research projects.

IP Director Dr. Steven W. Gust described how several years of flat or decreasing budgets have driven the Institute's interest in creating Web-based research and training tools. He also previewed an IP bibliographic study that identified 443 unique funding sources cited by drug abuse researchers who published articles in Addiction and Drug and Alcohol Dependence between 1998 and 2004. Representatives from the Fogarty International Center and the Institute for International Education joined IP Program Analyst Dale Weiss to discuss funding opportunities for IP fellowship alumni. Dr. Flavio Pechansky, University of Porto Alegre, Brazil, discussed the individual and group actions necessary to build a regional research network.

During the poster session, more than 130 drug abuse scientists from around the world presented their research to NIDA Forum and CPDD participants while representatives from nine NIDA components and the NIH Fogarty International Center presented posters summarizing the units' goals, research interests, international focus, and international funding priorities. Concurrent workshops focused on ethnographic research in HIV/AIDS; international trends in inhalant abuse and a multinational effort to better define and classify inhalants; and web resources supported by NIDA and the National Institutes of Health. Working groups also met during the Forum, focusing on the Addiction Severity Index, the Clinical Trials Network, ethnography, HIV/AIDS in IberoAmerica and Central-Eastern Europe, inhalants abuse, and women, children, and families.

NIDA Components Outline International Focus
During the June 2007 NIDA International Forum poster session, nine NIDA components and the Fogarty International Center presented posters summarizing the units' goals, research interests, international focus, and international funding priorities. The posters were prepared for the Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research; Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research; Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research; Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse; International Program; Intramural Research Program; AIDS Research Program; Center for the Clinical Trials Network; Special Populations Office.

NIDA Presents International Awards of Excellence
The NIDA International Program Awards of Excellence recognize mentors, researchers, and binational collaborative teams who have demonstrated sustained support of the NIDA International Program mission through outstanding contributions to international cooperation in drug abuse research and training. The awards are presented each June at the NIDA International Forum; two-page written nominations may be submitted to the International Program by March. The 2007 NIDA International Program Awards of Excellence were presented to: Wallace Mandell, Johns Hopkins, Excellence in Mentoring; David S. Metzger, University of Pennsylvania, Excellence in International Leadership; and Richard S. Schottenfeld, Yale University and Mahmud Mazlan, Malaysian Substance Abuse Center Maur, Excellence in Collaborative Research.

NIDA-Supported Meetings

Satellite Examines Neurotoxicity
NIDA provided support for a satellite meeting, New Research Frontiers and Advances in Drug Addiction, at the International Society for Neurochemistry meeting held August 14-17, 2007 in Merida, Mexico. The satellite was cosponsored by the International Drug Abuse Research Society (IDARS), the International Society for Neurochemistry, and the American Society for Neurochemistry. Participants discussed the role of genomics, proteomics and metabonomics in drug-induced neurotoxicity; medication development; molecular biology and free radicals in drug-induced neurotoxicity; substituted amphetamines-induced neurochemical changes and relationship to neurotoxicity; imaging brain structure and function; and GHB, volatile solvent, and inhalant neurotoxicity.

ICADTS/TIAFT Meeting Focuses on Drugged and Drunk Driving
NIDA supported the joint meeting of the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety (ICADTS) and The International Association of Forensic Toxicology (TIAFT) in Seattle, Washington, August 26 - 30, 2007. The three scientific tracks at the meeting examined driving under the influence of drugs; behavioral, post-mortem, and analytical toxicology; and road safety. A one-day pre-conference symposium for young scientists promoted networking, research skills, and career planning. The International Ignition Interlock Symposium was also held during the meeting. In addition to NIDA, meeting support was also provided by the U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and Transport Canada. Dr. Marilyn A. Huestis, IRP, is past president of TIAFT, serves on the TIAFT Scientific Advisory Committee, and presented during the conference.

International Visitors

Dr. Jerry Flanzer, DESPR, arranged for a visit to NIDA from a delegation from China on May 7, 2007. Dr. Shenyang Guo, University of North Carolina lead the delegation. The delegation was here to learn more about the "Making Choices" program sponsored by NIDA. The Chinese government has provided seed funds to conduct a test of this program in China.

Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership program, Dr. Vera Durisic, Head of the Department for Neurosis, Psychiatric Clinic in Montenegro visited NIDA on June 12, 2007. Meeting with Dr. Durisic from NIDA were, Dr. Vince Smeriglio and Debbie Grossman, DCNBR, and Carmen Rosa, CCTN.

On June 27, 2007 Dr. Gilberto Gerra, Director of the UNODC Global Challenges Program visited NIDA. Dr. Gerra was visiting Washington to discuss some of the new UNODC strategies in prevention and treatment as well as to learn more about U.S. Drug Demand Reduction programs. Dr. Gerra met with Dr. Tim Condon as well as representatives from DESPR, DPMCDA and CCTN.

A delegation of parliamentarians from the Australian Victorian Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee visited NIDA on July 30, 2007. The delegation was led by Deputy Chairman Mr. David Morris. The delegation was visiting Washington for the purpose of gathering evidence for the Committee's inquiry into the misuse/abuse of benzodiazepines and other forms of pharmaceutical drugs in Victoria. Representatives at the meeting from NIDA included Dr. Aria Crump and Moira O'Brien, DESPR, Geoffrey Laredo, OPSC and Dale Weiss, IP.

Other International Activities

Dr. Joseph Frascella, Director, DCNBR, gave a presentation entitled "Eating Addiction: Lessons Learned from Drug Addiction" at the 3rd European Association of Addiction Therapy Conference in Vienna, Austria on September 12, 2007.

Dr. Wilson Compton, Director, DESPR, presented a paper on the "Psychiatric Epidemiology of Pain" at the 11th Congress of the International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology in Goteborg, Sweden, May 4, 2007.

Dr. Wilson Compton presented a paper on "Reducing Opiate Analgesic Abuse" at the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence on June 18, 2007 in Quebec, Canada.

On June 26, 2007, Dr. Wilson Compton co-chaired and served as discussant on a panel addressing "Drug Addiction Treatment in Criminal Justice Settings" at the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Padua, Italy.

Dr. Meyer Glantz, DESPR, represented NIDA at the 2007 World Mental Health Consortium annual meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Consortium is a collaboration of the World Health Organization, NIMH and NIDA, and other mental health institutions. The Consortium members sponsor and conduct the World Mental Health Survey, a multi-site investigation of the prevalence and concomitants of mental and substance use disorders 28 countries. The United States component of the survey, the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication, has completed data collection and is currently analyzing and publishing its findings.

Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, DESPR, gave a keynote address titled: Using Epidemiologic Data to Inform Prevention Programming at the 2007 National Anti-Drug Conference and International Anti-Drug Symposium which took place in Taipei, Taiwan from May 30th through June 3, 2007.

Dr. Yonette Thomas, DESPR, chaired a workshop on "Bringing the Social Environment into Focus in Drug Abuse Research" at the 11th Congress of the International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology in Goteborg, Sweden, May 3-6, 2007. Dr. Thomas' presentation addressed the importance of understanding and mapping the social environment in drug abuse research.

Dr. Peter Hartsock, DESPR, served on the organizing committee and organized and chaired a special symposium on AIDS modeling applications for understanding the Russian AIDS epidemic (fastest growing AIDS epidemic in the world; drug abuse has been the principal driver) and related interventions. Sixteenth International Conference on AIDS and Public Health, St. Petersburg, Russia, May 28-June1, 2007.

Dr. Augusto Diana, DESPR, served as a Task Force member for the International Task Force on Prevention Evaluation Measures, part of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Dr. Diana presented the results of the Task Force, a compendium of prevention measures called the CICAD Toolkit for the Evaluation of Universal Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for Youth, to the VIII meeting of the Expert Group on Demand Reduction, held in Bogota, Columbia, February 13 - 15, 2007. The purpose of the meeting was to establish agreement on the use of a common set or measures for prevention programs across the participating member states.

Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, DPMCDA, spoke at the European Association of Addiction Treatment in Vienna on September 10, 2007 on New Pharmacological Development in the Treatment of Nicotine Dependence: Varenicline and More.

Drs. Ivan Montoya, Jag Khalsa, Ahmed Elkashef, and Frank Vocci presented a course on Addiction to Opiates at a pre-conference session of the II Latin American Congress on Addictions in Medellin, Colombia on July 25, 2007.

Dr. Frank Vocci spoke on the Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction at the II Latin American Congress on Addictions. Dr. Jag Khalsa spoke on the Co-morbid Conditions and Infections Associated with Substance Abuse. Dr. Ahmed Elkashef spoke on the Development of Medications for the Treatment of Cocaine Dependence. Dr. Ivan Montoya spoke on the Development of Medications for the Treatment of Drug Dependencies.

Drs. Frank Vocci, Ivan Montoya, Ahmed Elkashef and Jag Khalsa, all of DPMCDA, met with the Dean of the School of Public Health and several faculty members of the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Columbia on July 25, 2007. Discussions were held regarding technical assistance needs for the assessment of drug abuse incidence, prevalence, and its consequences; and development of a research agenda in drug use and dependence in the Colombian population.

Dr. Jag Khalsa, Dr. Frank Vocci, Dr. Ahmed Elkashef, and Dr. Ivan Montoya also met with various clinicians/researchers from the School of Public Health at the University in Medellin, Colombia, and exchanged research findings on drugs of abuse. The Colombian hosts were extremely impressed by NIDA's accomplishments and asked for assistance in setting up similar research and administrative infrastructure in Colombia where drug abuse and infections related problems are becoming a significant problem.

Dr. Jag Khalsa, DPMCDA, gave invited talks on medical consequences of drug abuse and infections, clinical consequences of marijuana, and drug-drug interactions at the Mariaberocentrum (Drug Treatment Center) in Stockholm, Sweden, and at the Helsinki University, Finland, June 1-4, 2007.

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, gave the invited plenary lecture on addiction at the 2nd International Congress on Biological Psychiatry, Santiago, Chile, April 20, 2007. His topic was Neurobiology and Treatment of Cannabis Dependence.

Dr. Yavin Shaham, IRP, presented a seminar entitled "Relapse to Drug and Food Seeking: Recent Findings" on June 8, 2007 at the Free University in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Dr. Mu-Fa Zou, IRP, gave invited lectures at Hubei University, Wuhan Institute of Science and Technology, both in Wuhan, and East China University of Science and Technology, in Shanghai, during his recent visit to 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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