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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

September, 1999

International Activities

In late May 1999, the review committee for the NIDA INVEST Drug Abuse Research Fellowships met to select three Fellows for 1999-2000. Dr, Vaughan Rees, Australia, will conduct research with NIDA grantee Dr. Jeffrey Samet at Boston University School of Medicine; Dr. Abdel Assi, Egypt, will work with NIDA researchers Dr. Charles Chavkin at the University of Washington; and Dr. Elisa Mengual, Spain, will spend her Fellowship year with Dr. Virginia Pickel at Cornell University Medical University.

The U.S.-Russia Binational Workshop on Drug Abuse and Infectious Disease Prevention Strategies was organized May 24-27, 1999 by NIDA and Pavlov Medical University, St. Petersburg. The workshop featured multidisciplinary working groups of drug abuse researchers, treatment providers, community organizers, health care professionals, policymakers, law enforcement officials, educators, youth leaders, and media representatives who focused on drug abuse prevention, drug abuse treatment, and community prevention intervention strategies for drug-using populations. NIDA staff Drs. Peter Delany, DCSR, Elizabeth Robertson and Richard Needle, DEPR, and Patricia Needle, OSPC, joined 9 NIDA-funded researchers and Dr. Paul Gaist, Office of AIDS Research, NIH, as plenary session presenters.

On June 8, 1999 NIDA Humphrey Fellow alumna Dr. Berna Ulug, drug abuse treatment researcher at Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, made a presentation to NIDA and NIAAA staff at the Neuroscience Center. Dr. Ulug shared findings on a two-year study of drug abuse conducted in 11 cities in Turkey.

NIDA hosted the fourth international satellite to the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) in Acapulco, Mexico, on June 11 and 12, 1999. The two-day meeting, "Building International Research on Drug Abuse: Continuing Focus on Children and Youth," brought together more than 60 scientists from 17 nations to explore the relationships among drug abuse research, practice and policy. NIDA Director Dr. Alan Leshner, Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, MDD, Moira O'Brien, DEPR, and Patricia Needle addressed the meeting participants.

Drs. Alan Leshner, Director, Timothy Condon, Associate Director, and Patricia Needle, Director, International Program, met in August 1999 with the Deputy Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Youth and Sport and Hungarian drug abuse researchers to plan the forthcoming East European regional meeting on methamphetamine abuse, which will be held in Budapest in early spring 2000. Following the Budapest meeting, Dr. Leshner gave the plenary address "The Nature of Addiction: Research Challenges and Opportunities" to the congress of the International Council on Alcohol and the Addictions (ICAA) in Vienna. NIDA also presented two workshops at the ICAA meeting: "New Directions in Drug Abuse Treatment: Behavioral Models and Pharmacotherapies, chaired by Dr. Betty Tai, MDD, and including presentations by Drs. Andrea Barthwell, Encounter Medical Group, Chicago, and Kenzie Preston, IRP; and "Transforming Drug Abuse Research into Practice for Prevention and Treatment," chaired by Timothy Condon, Associate Director, and with presentations by Drs. Claire Sterk, Emory University School of Public Health, Atlanta, and Richard Rawson, UCLA and Matrix, Los Angeles.

On July 12, 1999, NIDA hosted a group of German visitors, including representatives of the German Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology and two drug abuse researchers, to discuss a joint workshop to encourage binational research collaboration in the areas of epidemiology, prevention and drug abuse treatment. The visitors met with Moira O'Brien and Jacques Normand, DEPR;Peter Delany, DCSR; and M. Patricia Needle, Director, International Program, OSPC.

Dr. James Colliver of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research represented NIDA at the 29th Meeting of Experts in Epidemiology of Drug Problems (Pompidou Group) in Strasbourg, France June 7 and 8, 1999. He presented a paper on drug abuse trends in the United States and NIDA activities.

Mr. Nicholas J. Kozel (DEPR) cochaired a joint meeting of the East and South Asian Multi-City Epidemiology Work Group held in Penang, Malaysia on May 10-13, 1999. Researchers from Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea participated in the meeting and reported on patterns and trends of drug abuse in their countries and on emerging problems and related issues. Major drugs of abuse include: opium smoking and injection, heroin injection and "chasing the dragon", buprenorphine injection, cannabis smoking, inhalation of volatile substances, abuse of benzodiazepines and sharp increases in methamphetamine abuse. The emergence of MDMA and ketamine abuse in a number of countries in the region also has been noted.

Mr. Nicholas J. Kozel (DEPR) chaired a meeting of the Border Epidemiology Work Group (BEWG) held in San Diego, California on July 14-15, 1999. The BEWG is composed of researchers and program officials from the United States and Mexico and from the Pan American Health Organization. The major illicit drugs of abuse on the U.S. side of the Border are heroin cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. In Mexico, the major drug of abuse is marijuana; however, indicators of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine abuse have been increasing sharply in recent years, especially in the Border cities of Tijuana, Juarez and Nogales.

Richard Needle, Ph.D., MPH, Dionne Jones, Ph.D., and Helen Cesari, M.Sc., CRB, DEPR, planned and led the second annual meeting of the Global Research Network on HIV Prevention in Drug-Using Populations, in Atlanta, Georgia, August 26-28, 1999. The meeting was sponsored by NIDA in collaboration with the Office of AIDS Research, NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the World Health Organization Substance Abuse Department. The meeting objectives included: 1) identifying emerging issues in the epidemic with implications for HIV, HBV, and HCV prevention; 2) discussing the nature, status, and effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts among injecting drug users in different countries; and 3) increasing research capacity through collaborative efforts nationally and internationally.

Richard Needle, Ph.D., Chief, Community Research Branch, DEPR, participated as an observer and resource person at the Intercountry Technical Workshop on the Prevention of Drug Use and HIV/AIDS in New Delhi, India on June 1-4, 1999. The workshop was held for senior personnel of drug control and public health agencies dealing with HIV/AIDS in countries of South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) to update knowledge and skills on technologies for reducing the risk for transmission of HIV among IDUs; to exchange experiences and transfer technologies between drug control and public health agencies on addressing the joint problems of IDUs and HIV/AIDS; and to facilitate the establishment of working relations on issues related to IDUs and HIV/AIDS between drug control and public health agencies of countries in the region.

Drs. M. Patricia Needle and Elizabeth Robertson met with members of the United States Information Agency, International Visitors Program in Drug Education and Prevention on April 30, 1999 to exchange information on research and practice.

Drs. Robertson and Seitz from the Prevention Research Branch, DEPR met with Fiona Young of the United Kingdom's Home Office on July 22, 1999. Ms. Young is in the process of establishing a research group in the U.K. to integrate the prevention interests of a number of government departments in relation to the commissioning and use of research to guide policy and practice.

On July 9, 1999, Dr. Larry Seitz met with Augusto Perez-Gomez from Columbia, South America. Mr. Gomez is in charge of demand reduction for Colombia. The discussion involved the various aspects of prevention and what constitutes a good prevention program.

On July 12, 1999, Moira O'Brien, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, met with Mr. Maurides De Melo Ribeiro, President of the State of Sao Paulo's Narcotics Council, Brazil, to discuss NIDA's role in assessing the nature and extent of drug abuse in the U.S.

Helen Cesari represented CRB, DEPR, at the 4th International Conference on the Biopsychosocial Aspects of HIV Infection, "AIDS Impact 1999: Connecting a World of Resources", July 15-18, 1999, in Ottawa, Canada. The conference was hosted by the Canadian Psychological Association and supported by Health Canada through the Canadian Strategy on HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Bennett Fletcher, Chief of Services Research Branch, attended the WHO/NIH Joint Project on Assessment and Classification of Disablements Steering Committee Meeting in Geneva, March 1999.

Dr. Peter Delany served on the planning committeee and represented the Division of Clinical and Services Research at the U.S-Russia Bilateral Workshop: Drug Abuse and Infectious Disease Strategies, May 22-28, 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Dr. Delany presented on The Nature of Drug Abuse, Science-Based Approaches to Drug Abuse Treatment, and co-led a multi-disciplinary working group on the Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment with Dr. Ivgeny Krupitsky of the Pavlov Medical University.

Dr. Alexey Mukhin presented "Radiohalogenated Analogs of A-85380, Novel Ligands for Imaging the a4b2 Subtype of Nicotinic Receptors" at the International Symposium "Neuronal Nicotinic Receptors - Their Functional Role In CNS Disorders with Focus on New Therapeutic Implications", Stockholm, Sweden, May 27-29, 1999.

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, NIDA, IRP, was invited to speak at a special symposium on Ecstasy: Mechanisms of Action and Pathology. The symposium took place at the College de France in Paris on June 2-5, 1999.

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, NIDA, IRP, moderated two sessions of the Satellite Meeting of the International Society for Neurochemistry and European Society of Neurochemistry held in Copenhagen, Denmark on August 4-6, 1999. This year's Satellite Meeting focused on Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Drugs of Abuse: Cocaine, Ibogaine, and Substituted Amphetamines. Dr. Cadet moderated the meeting's first session on Gene Expression/Molecular Mechanisms of Drug Addiction, as well as the meeting's final session, Panel Discussion and Open Forum: Summary and Recommendations.

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet, NIDA, IRP, presented a poster at the International Society for Neurochemistry and European Society of Neurochemistry Meeting held in Berlin, Germany on August 7-15, 1999. The poster was entitled "Comparative Toxic Effects of Methamphetamine and Dopamine in Cell Culture Potentiation by Serum Withdrawal."

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