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NIDA Home > Publications > Director's Reports > September, 2009 Index    

Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse - September, 2009

International Activities

Funding Initiatives

Binational Research Project Builds on NIDA International Fellowships to Study Effectiveness of Counseling and Methadone Maintenance Treatment in Jakarta
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and former NIDA IP Fellows from Indonesia have been awarded an R01 grant to conduct a prospective randomized trial to evaluate the effectiveness of integrated drug and HIV counseling among injecting drug users beginning methadone treatment in Indonesia. The team hypothesizes that the structured, low-intensity, cognitive-behavioral drug and risk counseling approach will be more cost effective and result in higher rates of retention in treatment, lower rates of drug use, and lower rates of HIV risk than methadone maintenance treatment as usual. To test these hypotheses, the research team in Jakarta will recruit 300 injecting drug users as they enter treatment at the Drug Dependence Hospital and its five satellite programs. The work expands the collaboration established between the Indonesian Principal Investigator, Adhi Nurhidayat, M.D., during his NIDA INVEST Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Principal Investigator, David Metzger, Ph.D. It will also extend findings from a World Health Organization study on substitution therapy of opiates and HIV/AIDS that was completed by former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Ms. Riza Sarasvita, M.S., M.H.S., and her colleagues at The Drug Dependence Hospital in Jakarta.

Binational Agreement

NIDA and Taipei Medical University Sign Binational Agreement
NIDA and Taipei Medical University, Taiwan, have agreed to cooperate on research into neuroprotection and drug abuse. NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow and Taipei Medical University President Dr. Wen-Ta Chiu signed a binational agreement to foster research training and research collaborations of mutual interest; further scientific and academic interactions between the two institutions; exchange researchers, trainees, and materials; and to promote lectures, conferences, workshops, and seminars on neuroscience and drug abuse.

NIDA International Forum

NIDA International Forum Focuses on Commonalities of Diseases of Addiction

Drugs. Sex. Gambling. Obesity. Plenary Session speakers at the 14th NIDA International Forum documented the commonalities among these "Disorders of Desire," citing clear overlap in implicated brain regions and similar patterns of compulsive self-administration, tolerance, craving, comorbidity, disruption of inhibitory control, and impaired decision-making. NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Timothy Condon reviewed the Institute's priority research areas and reported on the Institute's signature projects to eradicate tobacco addiction and elucidate the genetics of brain development, and initiatives to prevent and treat substance abuse among military personnel and veterans. IP Director Dr. Steven W. Gust chaired the meeting, which was held June 19 - 23, 2009, in Reno, Nevada, as a satellite to the Annual Scientific Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD). More than 250 participants from 48 countries participated in the plenary session, workshops, and networking activities. A joint CPDD/NIDA International Forum poster session featured presentations by 150 U.S. and international researchers. Those abstracts are now available online in the new NIDA International Forum Abstract Database, which permits users to search for abstracts from 2003 through the present by author, title/subject, year, research category (basic science, epidemiology, prevention, or treatment), country, or geographic region ( /information/abstracts/). Representatives from 10 NIDA components (IP, ARP, CCTN, DBNBR, DCNBR, DESPR, DPMCDA, IRP, Special Populations, and Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program) and the Fogarty International Center presented posters summarizing the units' goals, research interests, international focus, and international funding priorities.

Dr. Joseph Frascella, DCNBR, chaired the plenary session on the disorders of desire, which featured presentations by him, Dr. Wim van den Brink, University of Amsterdam, and Dr. Anna Rose Childress, University of Pennsylvania. Concurrent workshops focused on ethical issues in the conduct of research, chaired by Dr. Linda B. Cottler, Washington University; multinational assessment and prevention of inhalant abuse, chaired by Ms. Debra Dell, Canadian Youth Solvent Addiction Committee; new formulations and indications for the pharmacotherapy Naltrexone, co-chaired by Dr. Ivan Montoya, DPMCDA, and Dr. David R. Gastfriend, Alkermes, Inc.; and the interaction of violence and substance use affecting women's treatment and interventions in the global arena, chaired by Dr. Wendee M. Wechsberg, RTI International.

The International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) presented two concurrent breakout sessions focused on practical and ethical issues in publishing addiction science. The session on practical issues, chaired by Dr. Robert L. Balster, editor of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was designed to help published and unpublished researchers choose an appropriate journal, avoid common pitfalls between submission and acceptance, and understand what editors want most from prospective authors. Dr. Thomas F. McGovern, editor-in-chief of Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, chaired the session on ethical issues, which addressed issues such as good citation practices, how to deal with authorship credits, and conflict of interest related to funding sources. Participants received a copy of the newly revised book, Publishing Addiction Science (second edition, Babor et al., 2008).

The alumni meeting of the NIDA International Fellowship Programs was co-chaired by Ms. Dale Weiss, IP, and Dr. J. Randy Koch, Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. David Otiashvili, Union Alternative Georgia, and Dr. George Woody, University of Pennsylvania, discussed how NIDA international fellowships and funding initiatives helped them build a productive international research team. Dr. James E. Herrington, Fogarty International Center, reviewed National Institutes of Health funding opportunities to support global health research.

NIDA/CPDD Satellite on Treating Addiction During Pregnancy
The NIDA International Program also supported a second CPDD satellite, Treating Addiction During Pregnancy: Exploring Multinational Perspectives To Build a Treatment Approach Consensus. Invitees to the NIDA/CPPD satellite on treating addiction during pregnancy completed a premeeting survey that attracted enthusiastic responses from researchers in 22 different countries on six continents. More than 90 percent of respondents agreed with 11 of 13 proposed principles of drug treatment for pregnant women. Dr. HendrŽe Jones of Johns Hopkins University chaired the meeting; Dr. Gabriele Fischer of the Medical University of Vienna was co-chair. Dr. Marianne Springer-Kremser, Medical University of Vienna, reviewed ethical considerations involved in conducting addiction research with pregnant participants. Three other speakers reviewed research findings on studies of pregnant women in their countries: from Australia, Dr. Lucy Burns, National Drug and Research Centre; from France, Dr. Laurent Gourarier, Maison Blanche Hospital; and from Israel, Dr. Einat Peles, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

NIDA International Program Presents Awards of Excellence
During the 2009 NIDA International Forum, the NIDA International Program presented awards to honor mentors, researchers, and binational collaborative teams whose efforts support the International Program mission.

The Excellence in Mentoring award was presented to James C. Anthony, M.Sc., Ph.D., Michigan State University, in recognition of his drug dependence epidemiology training programs for U.S. and international researchers. Dr. Anthony has forged a unique partnership with Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru, where he has made significant contributions to that university's public health research training program, as well as epidemiology research throughout Latin America.

Ian Stolerman, B.Pharm., Ph.D., King's College London, United Kingdom, was honored for Excellence in International Leadership for his work as president of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors, where he helped to establish, which helps authors and peer-reviewers share research results across national and language borders, promotes international recognition of research published in non-English-language journals, and advances international communication within addiction science.

A trio of researchers working to understand HIV risk behaviors among drug users and sex workers on the Mexico-U.S. border was honored for Excellence in Collaborative Research: Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D., University of California San Diego; Mar’a Remedios Lozada Romero, M.D., Baja California State, Mexico; and Carlos Magis-Rodr’guez, M.D., M.P.H., CENSIDA, Mexico. An outstanding example of cross-border cooperation, the three have worked effectively to document factors that significantly impact the evolving HIV epidemic in Tijuana. Their public health approach to shared responsibility for recognizing and treating sexually transmitted diseases between bordering countries contributes significantly to improved cross-border HIV prevention, clinical practice, and multidisciplinary global health training programs.

NIDA-Supported Meetings

NIDA Supports International Poster Session at Society for Prevention Research as SPR Launches International Networking Effort
More than 30 scientists from around the world presented their research at the International Poster Session cosponsored by the NIDA IP and DESPR Prevention Research Branch in conjunction with the 17th Annual Meeting of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR), which was held May 26-29, 2009, in Washington, DC. NIDA provided travel awards for 12 international researchers who presented the results of drug abuse prevention research completed in international settings. DESPR Director Dr. Wilson M. Compton told SPR participants that NIDA supported the international poster session because international research helps the Institute explore and extrapolate the commonalities of addiction and develop international scientists. Representing the IP, Ms. Dale Weiss cited international researchers' important roles in addressing the public health impact of drug abuse and addiction.

Responding to the SPR decision to focus on international research during its 2011 Annual Meeting, 30 scientists from 10 countries met to suggest ways that SPR can help create more effective international research networks. The group suggested that SPR create a social networking site for international prevention researchers; develop an international structure modeled on the SPR Early Career Preventionists Network; diversify the editorial board of the SPR journal Prevention Science and prepare a special issue on international research; organize workshops on publishing research results, grant writing, or international collaboration; provide Continuing Medical Education credits for both U.S. and international participants; propose 2011 conference themes or paper sessions highlighting international research topics such as case studies on the process of building a successful collaboration, prevention in cross-border areas, and prevention among immigrant populations; and cosponsor events with European Union prevention groups.

Dr. Brenda Miller, Prevention Research Center, and Dr. Sven AndrŽasson, Swedish National Institute of Public Health, co-chaired the International Networking session. Dr. Jean Schensul, Institute for Community Research, moderated the discussion of cross-cultural differences; Dr. Harold Holder, Prevention Research Center, moderated the discussion of natural experiments that arise due to national differences in policy; and Dr. Seth Kalichman, University of Connecticut, moderated the discussion of ways to successfully establish international collaborations. Representatives of NIDA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development also participated in the meeting. Prevention scientists interested in participating in the SPR International Network are invited to contact Dr. Miller at or Dr. AndrŽasson at


First IAS/NIDA Research Fellows in Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS Selected
NIDA and the International AIDS Society (IAS) have announced the first two IAS/NIDA Research Fellows in Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS. Michah Ongeri Oyaro, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, was selected for the 18-month postdoctoral fellowship. Maria Gudelia Rangel, Ph.D., a research associate and professor at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico, was selected for the 8-month professional development fellowship for an established HIV researcher not currently working in the drug abuse field. The two $75,000 awards were announced at the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which took place in Cape Town, South Africa, July 19 to 22, 2009. Dr. Oyaro will work with John Wylie, Ph.D., University of Manitoba, Canada, to design and conduct a study of social networks, serostatus, and molecular epidemiology of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infections among drug abusers in Kenya. The research findings will inform future vaccine development and immediate intervention measures to address viral transmission through education, immunization, provision of condoms, and treatment strategies. Dr. Rangel has spent more than 15 years working in the field of HIV and migration, and now wishes to re-orient her career to study HIV in the context of substance abuse. She will work with Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, University of California San Diego, to investigate HIV prevalence among clients in substance abuse rehabilitation centers in Baja California, Mexico. The project findings will add significantly to the limited data on HIV among Mexican drug users, with potential implications for Mexican state and national drug policies.

Former HHH Fellow Joins UNAIDS in Bangladesh
Dr. Munir Ahmed, recipient of a 2008-2009 Hubert H. Humphrey (HHH) Drug Abuse Research Fellowship, was recently appointed as the UNAIDS Partnerships and Social Mobilization Adviser for Bangladesh under the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS. Dr. Ahmed previously worked with CARE's harm reduction program for injection drug users and heroin smokers and led operations for CARE's HIV program. During his fellowship year, he focused on drug treatment modalities, including self-help groups and treatment for drug overdoses, prevention programs, and drug control policy and legislation. Dr. Ahmed credits his HHH Fellowship with enhancing his competitiveness for the UNAIDS position, which represents a significant career advancement.

Former HHH Fellow Leads Drug Advisory Program for Colombo Plan
Former Humphrey Fellow Mr. Duc Cuu Nguyen, Vietnam, has been named Director of the Drug Advisory Program (DAP) of the Colombo Plan Secretariat. Founded in 1951, the 26-country Colombo Plan is one of the oldest regional intergovernmental organizations in the world and is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The Colombo Plan launched DAP in 1973 to strengthen regional capability to participate effectively in international drug control efforts and to prevent drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. Mr. Nguyen formerly worked on national drug control policy in the Standing Office on Drug Control of Vietnam, responsible for precursor control and international cooperation in the Greater Mekong subregion, and as officer in charge of binational relations with the United States. He focused on drug control issues as well as drug abuse treatment and prevention during his 2006-2007 Humphrey Fellowship.

Travel Support

American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
NIDA IP provided partial support for 12 scientists from 7 countries to participate in the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence National Conference, held April 25 - 29, 2009, New York, New York. NIDA-supported participants included: Dr. Orlin Todorov and Dr. Alexander Kantchelov, Bulgaria; Dr. Pascal Courty, Dr. Andre Remy, and Dr. Michel Bourquin, France; Dr. Albrecht Ulmer, Germany; Dr. Icro Maremmani, Italy; Dr. Thomas Clausen, Norway; Dr. Vladimir Mendelevich, Russia; and Dr. Andrej Kastelic, Dr. Barbara Lovrecic, and Dr. Nusa Segrec, Slovenia.

Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists
NIDA IP supported the participation of two speakers at the Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists Conference, Setting Sail: Best Practices for the Next Decade, which was held May 6 - 9, 2009, in Nova Scotia, Canada. Bette Reimer, Research Associate, Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, discussed bringing the principles and skills of information science to knowledge exchange activities aimed at supporting evidence-based substance abuse services and decision-making. Anne Welsh, Lecturer in Library and Information Studies, University College, London, reviewed the drug sector's use of Web 2.0 technologies.

Behavioral and Mental Health Research in the Arctic: Strategy Setting Meeting
NIDA provided partial travel support for three researchers who participated in the Behavioral and Mental Health Research in the Arctic: Strategy Setting Meeting, which was held June 2-3, 2009, in Anchorage, Alaska. The NIDA-supported travelers included Lawrence Hamilton, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire; Spero Manson, Ph.D., Director, American Indian and Alaska Native Programs, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center; and Lisa Wexler, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts. IP Director Dr. Steven W. Gust also participated in the meeting.

Virtual Seminar Series Features NIDA Division Directors
The NIDA International Program has produced recorded talks to introduce the mission, goals, and international research priorities of each NIDA Division. The online NIDA Division Directors Virtual Seminar Series is a valuable tool for learning more about NIDA, identifying potential research topics of interest to NIDA, or preparing for meetings with NIDA staff.

Video Highlights Online Resources for Communications, Research Collaboration, & Training Tools

A 5-minute video available on the IP Website ( highlights four online resources developed for the international drug abuse research community:

  • NIDA International Virtual Collaboratory (NIVC), which supports live audio/video virtual meetings, discussion forums linked to an e-mail list-serv, user-built document libraries, secure document-writing and -editing tools, and a searchable Collaboration Matching Service.
  • International Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco (IDAT) Research Community, which collects and disseminates research news, provides online training and databases, supports networking tools to facilitate collaborative work, and publishes an online, peer-reviewed journal.
  •, which provides free, online courses in biostatistics, evaluating drug and substance abuse programs, and designing and managing clinical trials. Each course includes self-assessment questions, practical examples, and links to resources. Continuing medical education credit and printable copies of the course materials are available for a modest fee.
  • Methadone Research Web Guide and Tutorial, which presents U.S. research outcomes about methadone maintenance treatment, reviews best practices in treatment program design and implementation, and disseminates evidence-based treatment protocols. It is designed to answer the most frequently posed questions by the international community regarding the path of research inquiry used by the United States, which could be used by other countries to support approval of methadone as a treatment therapy (

International Visitors

Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, a group of visitors from Russia came to NIDA on June 25, 2009. The main objective of the program is to provide an opportunity for the visitors to become acquainted with the various addiction prevention and treatment programs in the United States including outreach interventions, mediciation assisted therapy, mental health and psycho-social services. Staff from NIDA that met with the group included Jag Khalsa, Ph.D., DPMCDA, Peter Hartsock, Ph.D., DESPR, Elena Koustova, Ph.D., DBNBR, Jan Lipkin, OSPC, and Dale Weiss, IP. Staff from the NIH Office of AIDS Research, Natalie Tomitch and Amelia Hall also joined the meeting.

Other International Activities

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is recruiting fellows for the 2009 INVEST/CTN research fellowship program. Clinical trial researchers from all non-U.S. countries are encouraged to apply for this opportunity to work with a research mentor at one of the sixteen CTN Regional Research and Training Centers. The deadline for submission of applications was September 1, 2009.

Dr. Shoshana Kahana, along with members of DESPR and DPMCDA, took part in the ARP-sponsored meeting with the CDC and NIMH on Wednesday, June 24, 2009. The meeting was meant to provide participants with an opportunity to meet one another and to encourage future communication and collaboration as well as to facilitate planning of projects and to avoid duplicative research.

Dr. Meyer Glantz, DESPR, represented NIDA and NIH at the World Mental Health Consortium Meeting held in Saratoga Springs, New York, July 22-July 27, 2009. The WMH Consortium is a coordinated multi-national psychiatric epidemiology survey using a standardized assessment and analysis approach. Dr. Glantz presented an analysis of the prevalence and concomitants of the DSM-IV alcohol abuse criteria with particular attention to the implications of including the social consequences criteria in cross national research. The findings suggest that the variability associated with these criteria might be a valuable asset, particularly in economically developing countries, rather than a weakness.

Dr. Peter Hartsock, DESPR, represented NIDA at the Fogarty International Center annual AITRP/ICOHRTA network conference, May 26-27, 2009 held in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Hartsock presented on NIDA/DESPR's latest AIDS modeling research on expanded HIV testing, circumcision, the "HIV Superhighway" (multiple concurrent sexual partnerships), impact of HAART in Russian drug users who are HIV positive, identification and research on TB rates among Mexican drug users who are also HIV positive, and research on influenza (H1N1) risks in this same population.

Dr. Peter Hartsock met with Russian researchers visiting NIDA on June 25, 2009 to discuss NIDA/DESPR's AIDS research program, especially research that focuses on Russian drug abuse and AIDS and on potential opportunities for research applications on the Russian drug abuse and HIV/AIDS problem.

Dr. Ivan Montoya gave a one-day workshop on funding opportunities at NIH at the Colombian Psychiatric Association, in Bogota, Colombia on August 1, 2009.

Dr. Ivan Montoya gave a lecture at the CES Medical School and the Colegio Montessori in Medellin, Colombia on August 3 and 4, 2009, respectively.

Dr. David Gorelick, IRP, served on the International Scientific Program Committee for the 9th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry, held in Paris, France June 28-July 2, 2009.

Dr. David Gorelick met July 3, 2009 with scientists at the Fernand Widal Hospital, Paris, France to discuss their collaborative research on cannabis dependence and gave a scientific presentation on "Brain mu-opioid receptors in cocaine addiction."

Dr. David Gorelick staffed the NIDA IRP poster at the International Poster Forum at the CPDD annual meeting June 22, 2009 in Reno, Nevada, and answered questions from foreign scientists.


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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