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2019 Addiction Science Award Winners Nikita Rohila (3rd place), Aditya Tummala (1st place), Sid Thakker (2nd place).2019 Addiction Science Award Winners Nikita Rohila (3rd place), Aditya Tummala (1st place), Sid Thakker (2nd place).

The Addiction Science Award is coordinated by the Friends of NIDA, a coalition that supports NIDA's mission. With scientific expertise from NIDA, the awards are given to three outstanding projects on the topic of addiction science. The award is part of the International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest science competition for high school students.

For Teachers: See the Addiction Science Award Teaching Guide

What is the Addiction Science Fair Award?

Every May, close to 1,800 students from more than 75 countries compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Since 2008, judges with expertise in addiction research have selected three projects for the Addiction Science Awards at the fair, showcasing exemplary work in research projects related to substance use disorders, including their prevention and treatment. NIDA provides judges with scientific expertise, and small cash awards are provided by Friends of NIDA, a private coalition that supports NIDA's mission. The first place winner receives $2,500, the second place winner receives $1,500, and the third place winner receives $1,000.

The Addiction Science winners are announced at the Special Awards ceremony at the fair, and NIDA invites them to visit our headquarters at NIH in Bethesda, Maryland to present their projects.

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The ISEF is the world's largest international pre-college science competition, and annually provides a forum for more than 1,500 high school students to showcase their independent research. The ISEF is the premier science competition in the world exclusively for students in grades 9-12.

Each year, the winners of local and school-sponsored science fairs compete in regional and state fairs, and the winners attend the ISEF. The non-profit organization Society for Science & the Public partners with dozens of corporate, academic, government, and science-focused sponsors, who provide support and awards for the ISEF each year. While medical and behavioral science awards are given by various public and private agencies, this is the first series of awards given exclusively for projects that advance addiction science.

What is Addiction Science?

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that affects brain function and behavior. It is also a treatable disease. The science of addiction is diverse; it includes any research that contributes to our understanding of addiction and its health consequences, such as:

  • who abuses drugs and why
  • basic biology (including genetics)
  • brain structure and function (how the brain works)
  • behavior (that can lead to drug abuse or addiction)
  • prevention and treatment (behavioral therapy and medications)
  • health services research (how to get the best treatments to those who need it).

Since prevention of drug abuse and treatment of drug addiction are NIDA's primary goals, any research that can help us achieve them is of interest. Projects that focus on these scientific questions are considered for the Addiction Science Award.