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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

September, 1998

Media and Education Activities

Science Education

On July 27, 1998, NIDA released the seventh in its "Mind Over Matter" series for middle school students. "The Brain's Response to Nicotine," developed through NIDA's Science Education Program, follows the same format as the earlier components of the series in which the young character Sara Bellum takes the reader on an exploration of the brain's response to drugs. At the end of Sara's investigation of the effects of nicotine on the brain, the magazine unfolds to display on the reverse side an artistic photograph of neurons with a quotation designed to inspire curiosity about science. Concurrent with the development of the student magazine, a chapter on nicotine was added to the teacher's guide that accompanies the series. All of the "Mind Over Matter" materials are available free through the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (1-800-729-6686).

Press Releases

June 22, 1998 - Cocaine Reward Does Not Require Dopamine or Serotonin Transporters--The Brain Sites Previously Implicated Cocaine's action in the brain requires more or other sites than researchers previously believed, or an unidentified means of action. A team led by Dr. George Uhl and Dr. Ichiro Sora of NIDA's Intramural Research Program found that cocaine could still elicit drug-seeking behavior in mice lacking the genes for either the dopamine or serotonin transporter. This study was published in the June 23 Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

As a result of this news release, articles appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Science Magazine, ABC News.Com, and The Washington Times.

June 24, 1998 - Gene Variant Found That Can Help Protect Against Nicotine Addiction. According to a study published in the June 25 issue of Nature, some individuals carry a gene variant that may help protect them from becoming addicted to nicotine. Dr. Rachel F. Tyndale, University of Toronto found that individuals with a genetic variant in a particular enzyme break nicotine down more slowly than those who do not. These individuals have greater resistance to nicotine addiction and if they do smoke, they smoke fewer cigarettes than individuals without the impairment.

As a result of this news release, articles appeared in USA Today, Associated Press (Online), The Washington Times, The New York Times, The San Jose Mercury News, Science Daily, New Scientist, and Nature magazine.

June 24, 1998 - First Global Meeting On HIV Prevention and Drug-Using Populations To Be Held in Geneva, Switzerland, June 25-26, 1998. NIDA, in collaboration with the World Health Organization's Programme on Substance Abuse and the Joint United National Programme on HIV/AIDS, will convene a meeting of researchers for the first time to establish a Global research Network on HIV Prevention in Drug-Using Populations. Approximately 50 HIV/AIDS prevention researchers from 23 countries have been invited to attend. In addition, a special June supplement of Public Health Reports will focus on the current status of national and international drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention research, much of which has been sponsored by NIDA.

July 20, 1998 - Nicotine Addiction Focus of National Conference. Facts about nicotine addiction, based on the latest scientific research, will be the focus of a national conference, Addicted to Nicotine, A National Research Forum, sponsored by NIDA and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

As a result of this news release and press coverage at the event, articles appeared in Reuters, CBS.Com, Associated Press and numerous trade publications.

Media Exposure

June 4, 5, & 8, 1998 - Dr. Leshner, Dr. Hoffer, and several NIDA research staff at the IRP were interviewed by BBC Radio reporter Sue Armstrong for a 30-minute science news show on drug addiction and neuroscience. The show will air internationally in September.

June 6, 1998 - Wall Street Journal. Dr. Leshner and Dr. Frank Vocci were interviewed for an article "Researchers Push Many New Weapons Against Cocaine Habit" which focused on medications for treating addiction.

June 25, 1998 - Dr. Leshner was interviewed by several media outlets including, USA Today and Associated Press, regarding the NIDA funded study on defective genes and nicotine addiction.

Sunday, July 26, 1998 - The New York Times. Dr. Leshner was quoted in an article about efforts to develop medications to treat drug addiction. This article was prepared following negative comments about methadone by New York City Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.

Monday -Tuesday, July 27-28, 1998 - Addicted to Nicotine Conference. Dr. Leshner, Dr. Vocci, and several conference speakers were interviewed by several member of the press, resulted in national coverage by CBS This Morning and CBS Radio, NBC Radio, Associated Press, Reuter's, and Knight Ridder, and upcoming coverage by JAMA, and U.S. News & World Report among others.

August 4, 1998 - Dr. Leshner was interviewed by several media outlets, including CBS and NBC Nightly News, Wall Street Journal and New York Times for articles and news segments on a NIDA funded study at Brookhaven National Laboratory on a new medication for treating cocaine addiction. Paramount Stations nationwide aired a documentary on teen smoking, "Smoking Truth or Dare" which included information from an interview with Dr. Edythe London, IRP.

Press Briefings

NIDA sponsored a press briefing during the Addicted to Nicotine Conference, June 27, 1998. The briefing was hosted by Dr. Alan I. Leshner who was joined by 5 researchers who have brief presentations related to their areas of expertise. A question and answer period followed the presentations. About 20 individuals representing print and broadcast media attended.


NIDA's video, "The Great Disconnect," has won a Gold Certificate in the Questar Awards given by MerComm, Inc. for video communications. MerComm, Inc., is affiliated with the International Academy of Communication Arts and Sciences. "The Great Disconnect" highlights the power of science in the battle against drug abuse and addiction.

NIDA's Mind Over Matter (MOM) Magazine Series has won the distinguished Bronze Anvil Award given by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). MOM won the award in the Magazine Series category for Excellence in Tools and Tactics in public relations. PRSA is the world's largest organization of public relations professionals. The MOM series consists of seven full-color glossy magazines and a teacher's guide designed to teach middle school students how drugs of abuse act in the brain.

NIDA INFOFAX has won the prestigious Banner Award given by the American Hospital Association's Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development. INFOFAX won the award in the "Use of Emerging Media" category. The Banner Awards program recognizes fundamental skills in the disciplines of planning, strategy development, marketing, public relations and communications. The NIDA Infofax system uses network-based telecommunications to provide a toll-free, 24-hour information service to a broad range of users.


The following are meetings where NIDA has exhibited its publications and program announcements in recent months:

June 3-7, 1998 - Society for Prevention Research

June 4-6, 1998 - National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP)

June 10-14, 1998 - National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations

June 13, 1998 - NIH Health Forum

June 16-17, 1998 - NIH Health Fair

June 13-18, 1998 - College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)

June 21-23, 1998 - Association for Health Services Research (AHSR) and the Foundation for Health Services Research (FHSR)

June 21-23, 1998 - Congress on Women's Health: Advances in Research & Therapy

June 28-July 2, 1998 - Media Education Conference

June 28-July 3, 1998 - International AIDS Conference

July 1-4, 1998 - National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC)

July 28-31, 1998 - Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)

August 1-6, 1998 - National Medical Association (NMA)

August 14-18, 1998 - American Psychological Association (APA)

August 21-25, 1998 - American Sociological Association

September 16-20, 1998 - American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)

Planned Meetings

NIDA is sponsoring the meeting Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: Myths Vs. Reality, a town meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on October 14, 1998. NIDA Director, Dr. Alan I. Leshner and NIDA researchers will discuss ways that state policy makers, organizations, schools and communities can utilize the latest scientific research to assess state and local drug problems and develop programs to meet their needs.

NIDA will conduct a Training Track at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum on November 18-21, 1998 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC. This year's Forum will focus on the critical need to improve the quality and effectiveness of community coalitions. NIDA's track will provide practical guidance to coalitions about the science of drug abuse and addiction.

NIDA will be participating in the Primary Care/Behavioral Healthcare Summit in St. Louis, MO, November 4 and 5, 1998. The summit is designed to acquaint primary care physicians and managed care organizations with behavioral healthcare issues. NIDA is a cosponsor of the event, and has developed a drug abuse tract for conference attendees.

The NIDA, NIMH and the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research will cosponsor a Consensus Development Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on November 16-18, 1998. Despite the substantial progress in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children and adults with ADHD, the disorder has remained controversial in many public and private sectors leaving many families, health care providers, educators, and policy-makers uncertain about the status of the disorder, its treatment and its long-term consequences. Psychostimulants, including dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate, and pemoline, are by far the most widely researched, clinically effective, and commonly prescribed treatments for ADHD. These medications are regarded by many in the medical community as constituting the psychopharmacologic treatment of choice for ADHD. Nonetheless, considerable controversy exists, both in the public at large and within segments of the medical community, about the common use of these medications for treating children diagnosed with ADHD. The use of methylphenidate and amphetamine nationwide has increased significantly in recent years. This increased availability and use of psychostimulants has intensified the concerns about use, overuse, and abuse. This 21/2-day conference will bring together national and international experts as well as representatives from the public. After these presentations and audience discussion, an independent, non-Federal consensus panel chaired by Dr. David J. Kupfer, Thomas Detre Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, will weigh the scientific evidence and prepare a statement on ADHD and its treatment. The Conference sessions will be held in the Natcher Conference Center (Building 45). You may register for this conference by Internet @ or send an e-mail message to

A symposium entitled Amygdala and More will be held in November 1998. Participants will include: Dr. Roger Brown, NIDA (Chair); Dr. L. Heimer, University of Virginia; Dr. George Koob, Scripps Research Institute; Dr. B.J. Everitt, University of Cambridge, UK; and Dr. H.C. Breiter, Massachusetts General Hospital. Marked neuroadaptations in monoaminergic and neuropeptide systems occur in the extended amygdala and in the shell of the nucleus accumbens after the repeated administration of abused substances. These limbic structures form a large forebrain continuum connecting virtually every part of the brain. The anatomical limits and connections, the regional dysregulation of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, and the functional and cognitive consequences that emerge in this region after repeated exposure to drugs of abuse in animals and humans will be discussed.

The Behavioral Science Working Group (Chair, Dr. Jaylan Turkkan) is planning a number of New Investigator events at national conferences this coming year including CPDD; the American Psychological Society; the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco; the Society for Prevention Research; the Society for Neuroscience; the Society for Research on Child Development; and the AIDS Impact Meeting. Each venue will highlight achievements by new NIDA investigators, provide useful information about training and career mechanisms, and offer mentoring advice from senior NIDA investigators.

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