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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

September, 1996

International Activities

NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner met with Sir George Alleyne, Director, Pan American Health Organization, and PAHO staff in early August. The meeting, which included Dr. Zili Sloboda, Director, DEPR, and Dr. Patricia Needle, Acting Director, International Program, focused on presentation of NIDA's research portfolio and international activities, and the exploration of further collaboration with PAHO on drug abuse and related research in the Americas.

The "International Conference on Neurochemistry and Pharmacology of Drug Addiction and Alcoholism" was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June. Dr. Alan Leshner presented a plenary session on the neurobiology of drug abuse. In the workshop on Developing International Cooperation in Drug Abuse Research, Dr. Timothy Condon, Director, OSPC, provided an overview of the NIDA organization and basic science research portfolio, and Dr. Patricia Needle discussed funding mechanisms and opportunities for international cooperation. NIDA grantees Charles R. Schuster, Edward Sellers, Joseph Justice, and Boris Tabakoff presented research papers in a program coordinated by Dr. Robert Balster. Dr. Edvin Zvartau of the Institute of Pharmacology, Pavlov Medical University, was the conference organizer. At the opening ceremony of the conference, NIDA Director Leshner and Nicolai Yaitsky, Rector, Pavlov Medical University, signed documents in an Exchange of Letters agreeing to promote collaboration in the fields of biomedical and behavioral research related to drug abuse and drug-related HIV/AIDS. Funding for U.S. participation was provided by U.S. Department of State and by NIDA.

Dr. Svetlana Dambinova, Institute of the Human Brain, Russian Academy of Sciences and President, Russian Society for Neurochemistry, visited NIDA during July to discuss a range of possibilities for research collaboration with Dr. Leshner and with Drs. Edythe London and Dr. George Uhl of NIDA's Division of Intramural Research.

"Building International Research in Drug Abuse: Opportunities and Challenges," was sponsored by the International Program as a satellite CPDD meeting. Sixty-five researchers, including NIDA-trained visiting scientists and foreign fellows from 21 countries, met to present research from outside the U.S.; to explore development of a network for collaborative research; and to report on the status of drug abuse research and policy issues in world regions.

NIDA hosted the Peruvian Minister of Health Mariano Costa, Alejandro Vassilaqui, Executive Director of CEDRO (Peru's Center for Information and Education for the Prevention of Drug Abuse), and Ms. Maria Teresa Hart of the Embassy of Peru for a joint discussion on drug abuse issues in Peru and opportunities for closer collaboration between our two countries on research on the prevention and treatment of drug abuse, specifically cocaine. Dr. Donald Vereen, OD, chaired the meeting, which was attended by staff of DEPR (Zili Sloboda, Nicholas Kozel), DCSR (Henry Francis, Sander Genser), International Program (Patricia Needle) and Dr. Arlene Fonaroff, Program Officer for the Americas, Fogarty International Center.

Dr. Zili Sloboda, Mr. Nicholas Kozel, and Ms. Moira O'Brien, all of DEPR, attended the third meeting of the International Drug Abuse Epidemiology Work Group (IDAEWG) which was held at the World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on July 2-4, 1996. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for representatives from epidemiology surveillance networks from around the world to present and discuss the most current epidemiologic data on drug abuse; to discuss development of an infrastructure for identifying and promoting epidemiologic and other drug abuse research; and to link research findings to community and public health policy. Recent increases in marijuana use noted in the United States were paralleled in Canada. This observation led to an OP-ED article in the Washington Post on August 22nd by Dr. David Musto of Yale University, renowned drug abuse historian. Heroin, cocaine, and marijuana still predominate much of the world with much local variation pointing out the significance of such a global network such as the IDAEWG. A summary of the meeting is currently being prepared by WHO and NIDA.

Mr. Nicholas Kozel, DEPR, cochaired the South Asian Multi-City Epidemiology Work Group meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 30 - August 1. The South Asian Work Group is composed of researchers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey and is one of a series of regional programs being developed to provide assessment and surveillance of drug abuse with the objective of integrating these regional data into a global perspective. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and is coordinated by staff of NIDA and the Universiti Sains Malaysia. The Asian Work Group is modeled after NIDA's Community Epidemiology Work Group. Indirect indicators and other measures of drug abuse show that the primary drugs of abuse in the region include heroin, buprenorphine, cannabis, codeine, tranquilizers and sedative-hypnotics.

Dr. Zili Sloboda, DEPR, attended a meeting in Munich on August 19-22 sponsored by the European Union. The focus of the meeting was the development of planning and evaluation guidelines for prevention and a conference on evaluation scheduled for January 1997. The conference will include plenaries and workshops on the state-of-the-science in Europe and the United States in the areas of outcome evaluation, epidemiology and prevention, and issues such as mediating variables, instrumentation, barriers to evaluation and the role of the mass media.

Dr. Robert Battjes, Deputy Director, DCSR, spoke at the opening plenary session of the 18th World Conference of the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities, in St. Petersburg, Russia, September 8-13. His presentation was entitled "Adolescent Drug Abuse: Treatment Implications." In addition to Dr. Battjes' participation, NIDA also provided travel awards for international research presentations at the Conference.

Dr. Chiiko Asanuma of the Etiology and Clinical Neurobiology Branch, Division of Clinical and Services Research, was an invited speaker at the Colloquium on New Perspectives in Posterior Association Cortex held at the annual meeting of the Neuropsychology Association of Japan on September 13, 1996 in Sapporo, Japan. While in Japan, Dr. Asanuma visited the School of Medicine at Nihon University in Tokyo, where she gave a seminar on her research.

Dr. Steven W. Gust, Acting Director of NIDA's Office on AIDS participated in the
XI International Conference on AIDS held in Vancouver in July, and presented a poster on HIV/AIDS Research at NIDA.

Katherine Davenny of the Clinical Medicine Branch, Division of Clinical and Services Research, presented a poster at the XI International Conference on AIDS, held in Vancouver, July 1996, where she discussed NIDA's ongoing AIDS research program.

Richard H. Needle, Ph.D., M.P.H. of CRB/DEPR presented a research poster on "Injection Drug Users' Networks, the Injection Process, and Multiperson Use of Drug Injection Equipment and Paraphernalia," at the XI International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, July 7-12. The poster was also developed by Susan Coyle, Ph.D. and Helen Cesari, M.S. Results were presented from a multisite observational study of drug injection networks in six U.S. cities and Puerto Rico. The research was conducted as a collaborative effort by NIDA grantees from each site as well as Steve Jones, M.D., from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arthur Hughes, Chief, ERB/DEPR, presented papers and participated in the Pompidou Group European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction meeting June 10-14, 1996, in Strausbourg, France.

Dr. Frank Tims, DCSR, was an invited speaker at the 3rd International Congress of the Worldwide Hungarian Medical Academy in Pecs, Hungary, July 4-6. His topic was "Contemporary Drug Issues."

Dr. Frank Tims was an invited participant and speaker in a symposium on "Drug Abuse and the Criminal Justice System: A Creative Partnership for Change," in Ottawa, Canada. The symposium was jointly sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association and the Portage Programs for Dependencies, and was convened to consider implications and strategies for implementation of Bill C-41, which is designed to greatly increase diversion of substance abusing offenders. He presented a paper entitled, "Costs and Cost-Benefits of Treatment."

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, DIR, was invited to present a paper entitled, "Methamphetamine Causes Apoptosis in Immortalized Neural Cells" at the European Society for Neurochemistry in Groningen, The Netherlands, June 1996.

Dr. Steven Grant, DIR, presented a paper entitled, "Positron Emission Tomographic Studies of Cerebral Glucose Metabolism in Stimulant and Opiate Addiction" at the XXth Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologium (CINP) Congress, Melbourne, Australia, June 23-27, 1996.

Dr. Toni Shippenberg, DIR, presented a paper entitled, "Are Muscarinic Cholinergic Systems Involved in the Development or Expression of Behavioral Sensitization to Cocaine," at the European Behavioral Pharmacology Society, Sardinia, Italy, May 1996.

Waldemar Oliveros, M.D., M.P.H. from Panama visited NIDA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research on July 9, 1996. Dr. Oliveros just completed his M.P.H. at John Hopkins University's Department of Mental Hygiene. He has a strong interest and background in prevention and has deÿ prevention intervention trial (PIT) for children entering elementary school in the 6.5 to 8.5 age range.

The Philadelphia VA's findings on the usefulness of naltrexone in former heroin addicts currently on Federal probation were presented at the meeting of the International Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP) held in Melbourne, Australia in June 1996.

NIDA will support travel for researchers Dr. Garo Basmadjian and Dr. Claire Advokat to attend the "International Symposium on the Application of the Theory of Metabolic Regulation to Pain," to be held in late September in Armenia.

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