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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

Media and Education Activities


April 20, 2009 - A press conference was held at the National Press Club to announce NIDA's first comprehensive Physician's Outreach Initiative, NIDAMED. NIDAMED gives medical professionals tools and resources to screen their patients for tobacco, alcohol, illicit and nonmedical prescription drug use. The initiative stresses the importance of the patient-doctor relationship in identifying unhealthy behaviors before they evolve into life-threatening conditions. The NIDAMED resources include an online screening tool, a companion quick reference guide, and a comprehensive resource guide for clinicians. The news conference featured NIDA Director Dr. Volkow, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Ed Jurith, J.D., Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., and representatives from the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and other organizations committed to helping patients who struggle with drug-related medical issues.

A patient-tested postcard, designed to complement the physician screening materials, encourages patients to discuss any and all drug use with their doctors to help ensure proper medical care. Physicians are encouraged to place the postcards in their waiting rooms. Media coverage of the event included articles by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, BHC Journal, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, and ABC Radio. The Associated Press article was picked up by more than 15 newspapers nationwide. In addition, a NIDAMED radio announcement produced by the North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS), was broadcast 121 times in 29 different states with an audience of 14,237,420 (as of 8/19/09).

Addiction Science Fair Awards

In May 2009, NIDA presented Addiction Science Awards to students participating in the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world's largest competition for high school science students. This is the second year that NIDA has participated in the Special Awards Program, bestowing 1st, 2nd and 3rd place honors for projects that advance addiction research. This year, more than 1,500 students from more than 50 countries participated in the ISEF competition at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, which is coordinated by the Society for Science and the Public. Winners of the Addiction Science Award received cash awards provided by Friends of NIDA, with a $2,500 scholarship for the first-place honoree. In addition, the students travelled to NIDA on August 3, 2009 to present their innovative projects to NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and NIDA program staff.

ARRA Publicity

NIDA's Public Information and Liaison Branch (PILB) has provided technical assistance to the press information officers (PIOs) at several institutions that have received the first American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus grants from NIDA. A sample press release, newsworthy details about the grants, and boilerplate language about NIDA and ARRA were provided to PIOs at 15 universities and institutes across the country. Several of these institutes have subsequently issued press releases to local media about their new grants.

Press Releases

April 20, 2009 - NIDA Launches Drug Use Screening Tools for Physicians. NIDA unveiled its first comprehensive Physicians' Outreach Initiative, NIDAMED, which gives medical professionals tools and resources to screen their patients for tobacco, alcohol, illicit, and nonmedical prescription drug use. See NIDAMED Launch description in this report for details.

May 13, 2009 - NIDA Study Reveals Widespread Effects of Cocaine on Genome Structure and Function. Repeated use of addictive drugs such as cocaine causes long-lasting changes in parts of the brain involved in motivation and reward, among others, yet the precise mechanisms by which these changes are maintained are poorly understood. A new NIDA-supported study, published May 14, 2009 in the journal Neuron, sheds light on this process by providing fundamental new insights into the effects of cocaine on the structure and function of the genome, the complete set of DNA instructions needed to make an organism.

May 15, 2009 - NIDA Study Suggests Low-Key Anti-Smoking Ads Are More Likely to Be Remembered than Attention-Grabbing Messages. For the first time, preliminary research using brain-imaging technology has shown that low-key and attention-grabbing anti-smoking public service announcements stimulate different patterns of activity in smokers' brains and that smokers are more likely to remember seeing the low-key PSAs. The study, published May 15, 2009 in the journal NeuroImage, was supported by NIDA and the National Cancer Institute.

May 15, 2009 - The Impact of Third Hand Smoke on Risk for Genetic Mutations Wins First Place Addiction Science Award at 2009 Intel ISEF Competition. A resourceful study into the effect of third hand smoke upon the risk for genetic mutations in fruit flies won the top Addiction Science Award at this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world's largest science competition for high school students. The Intel ISEF Addiction Science Awards were presented at an awards ceremony by NIDA and Friends of NIDA, a group that supports NIDA's mission and educates policy makers, health professionals and the general public about advances achieved from the investments in biomedical and behavioral research related to finding a cure for and eliminating drug dependence.

June 18, 2009 - NIDA Study Shows School-Based Prevention Program Reduces Problem Behaviors in Fifth Graders By Half. A study suggests that school-based prevention programs begun in elementary school can significantly reduce problem behaviors in students. Fifth graders who previously participated in a comprehensive interactive school prevention program for one to four years were about half as likely to engage in substance abuse, violent behavior, or sexual activity as those who did not take part in the program. The study, supported by NIDA, appeared in the August 2009 print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

July 30, 2009 - NIH and VA Announce $7 Million Partnership for Substance Abuse Research among Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families. Two federal departments have joined forces to create a first-time collaborative funding project to support research on substance abuse and associated problems among U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families. NIDA, in partnership with two other NIH Institutes—the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI)—are jointly collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), on a seven million dollar funding opportunity announcement for research in this area.

Research News

Full NewsScans can be seen at

June 2, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #61 - Research News

  • Persistent Brain Changes in Response to Cocaine Depend on Expectation of Reward
  • Antibiotic Improves Efficacy of Morphine and Reduces Reward Response
  • New Analytic Method to Test Effectiveness of Open-Enrollment Group Interventions
  • Middle School Interventions Reduce Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs
  • Stress Hormone Levels Altered in Maltreated Foster Children
  • Deep Brain Stimulation Decreases Cocaine Seeking in Rats
  • Immune System Proteins Interfere With Painkilling Effects of Opioids
  • Functional Embryonic Stem Cells Isolated From Rats

July 8, 2009 - NIDA NewsScan #62 - Research News

  • Time to Hepatitis C Infection in Injection Drug Users Lengthening in Developed Countries
  • Male, Female Injection Drug Users in Tijuana Have Different Risk Factors for HIV Infection
  • HIV Prevalence at the United States–Mexico Border May Change the HIV Epidemic in Mexico
  • Varenicline Improves Learning Deficits Caused by Nicotine Withdrawal in Mice
  • Denicotinized Cigarettes Affect Nicotine Receptors in Smokers' Brains
  • Family-Based Intervention Helps Male Children of Drug Users Avoid Substance Use Disorders
  • Computerized Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Has Enduring Effects on Drug Use
  • Vigabatrin Prevents Relapse to Methamphetamine Use in an Animal Model of Addiction

Interviews & Articles of Interest

March 11, 16, & 17, 2009 - Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Associated Press, Thomson Reuters, and several trade publications - Interviews with Dr. Nora Volkow regarding published paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the effects of modafinil on dopamine and dopamine transporters in the male human brain.

March 19 & 20, 2009 - Grayscale Productions - Interviews with Drs. David Shurtleff, David McCann, Gaya Dowling, Wilson Compton, and Joe Frascella for inclusion in a 10-part video series called Drugs: The Straight Facts.

March 26, 2009 - Los Angeles Times - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about studies on obesity for a story about bad habits and how hard it is to break them.

April 7, 2009 - Christian Science Monitor - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about the use of cognitive enhancing drugs in healthy adolescents and adults.

April 14, 2009 - Indiana Public Radio - Interview with Dr. Timothy Condon about risk for substance abuse among baby boomers.

April 15, 2009 - Washington Post - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about the science of addiction.

May 15, 2009 - Time - Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton about naloxone distribution to addicts and pain patients to reverse overdose.

May 18, 2009 - Associated Press - Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton about illicit drug trends.

May 19, 2009 - Federal News Radio - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about NIDAMED initiative.

May 29, 2009 - Chicago Tribune - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about cognitive enhancing drugs.

June 17, 2009 - New York Magazine - Interview with Drs. Joe Frascella and Redonna Chandler regarding the long-term effects of illicit drugs.

June 22, 2009 - Ladies Home Journal - Interview with Dr. Joe Frascella about the biochemical reasons behind why women overeat/crave certain foods, link between drug addiction and obesity, and how exercise can curb the dopamine response.

June 25, 2009 - ESPN - Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton about prescription drug abuse.

June 25, 2009 - New York Times - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about growing concerns and evidence of rising rates of marijuana addiction.

July 1, 2009 - Voice of America - Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton about the problem of prescription drug abuse in America.

July 14, 2009 - ABC Network News - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about whether healthy people should be allowed to take performance enhancing drugs.

July 17, 2009 - WedMD - Interview with Dr. Susan Weiss about pain medication addiction.

July 21, 2009 - Mental Health Weekly - Interview with Dr. Cindy Miner about two ARRA grants studying smoking cessation in schizophrenics.

July 29, 2009 - Channel One News - Interview with Dr. Wilson Compton about teen addiction to painkillers and other prescription drugs.

August 3, 2009 - ABC News online - Interview with Dr. Nora Volkow about use, addiction and potency of marijuana.

Outreach Activities

NIDA Teen Blog -
NIDA has launched the "Sara Bellum Blog" on its Teen Web site. The blog content is managed by NIDA's Office of Science Policy and Communications. This new format gives NIDA an opportunity to respond more quickly to public events that capture the attention of teens.

Recognition for NIDA NOTES Science Writing
NIDA Notes received First Place in Science Writing in the 2009 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition of the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC). The award, which recognized the article, "Basic Science Discoveries Yield Novel Approaches to Analgesia" (NIDA Notes, Vol. 22 No. 1), named Senior Science Writer Lori Whitten, Managing Editor Andrew Keegan, Deputy Editor Julie Ann Miller, and Editor David Anderson.

NIH Plain Language Gold Award
On June 2, 2009 OSPC received an NIH Plain Language Gold Award for an editorial about stigma that was published in Science News. The editorial, entitled "It's Time for Addiction Science to Supersede Stigma," focused on how stigma associated with substance use disorders poses a huge obstacle to the effective translation of science-based principles into practice. The authors of the piece included Dr. Volkow, Ruben Baler, Susan Weiss, Gaya Dowling, Jessica Palmer, & Jennifer Elcano.

Recent and Upcoming Conferences/Exhibits

National Medical Association Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly July 25-30, 2009 -- Las Vegas, NV

2009 State Associations of Addiction Services and the Network for The Improvement of Addiction Treatment Summit -- July 29-August 1, 2009 -- Tucson, AZ

American Psychological Association 117th Annual Convention August 6-9, 2009 -- Toronto, Ontario, Canada

NAADAC the Association for Addiction Professionals Annual Conference August 19-22, 2009 -- Salt Lake City, UT

Blacks in Government 31st Annual National Training Conference August 24-28, 2009 -- Baltimore, MD

Latino Behavioral Health Institute 15th Annual Conference September 23-25, 2009 -- Los Angeles, CA

American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly October 14-18, 2009 -- Boston, MA

American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition October 17-20, 2009 -- Washington, DC

Society for Neuroscience 39th Annual Meeting October 17-21, 2009 -- Chicago, IL

Employee Assistance Professionals Association Conference October 22-24, 2009 -- Dallas, TX

13th Annual United States Conference on AIDS October 29-31, 2009 -- San Francisco, CA

American Association of Medical Colleges Annual Meeting November 6-11, 2009 -- Boston, MA

American Public Health Association 137th Annual Meeting and Exposition November 7-11, 2009 -- Philadelphia, PA

National Association for the Education of Young Children 2009 Annual Conference & Expo November 18-20, 2009 -- Washington, DC


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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